Some of us are suffering from a disturbed gut even though we follow a super healthy diet consisting of raw vegetables and fruits. So where is the problem? According to Ayurveda, raw foods consumed in high amounts can be a trigger for disturbed digestion. This does not mean that raw foods are entirely bad for your health.
As per Ayurveda, each one of us has a different Doshas according to our body type. The food we consume depends on our dosha – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. There are a number of factors that determine whether raw foods are suitable for us or not. It depends on our:
- digestive capacity
- mind-body constitution
- current imbalances
- stage of life
For someone eating a healthy bowl of salad or drinking a green smoothie every day can be beneficial in every way possible. But for the other, it might cause unhealthy digestion leading to constipation and bloating. Besides being a healthy alternative practice, everyone’s digestion process is unique based on the food suitable for their body type.
Ayurvedic Perspective on Raw Foods
Ayurveda is mostly concerned with the process of digestion and the ability to breakdown and absorb the food we eat. Digestion also varies from Dosha to Dosha depending on the food we consume every day. Ayurveda views raw food with qualities of Dry, Cold, Rough and Light. So, according to the rule of nature in Ayurveda, “Like Increases Like”.
For instance, if you are cold and you indulge in eating ice cream, you will increase the cold nature in your body. Therefore, each Dosha has different qualities and to maintain the balance, you need to eat food with opposite qualities. There are 6 different tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty, astringent and pungent that vary depending on the properties of different foods. All of these tastes should be present in the food we consume to create a balanced body.
From the Ayurveda perspective, raw food needs more Agni (digestive fire/energy) to break down our food. Thus, people with weak metabolism will find it hard to digest raw food. This leads to various ailments such as acidity, bloating, constipation, dry skin, feeling cold often, disturbed sleep and fatigue.
Since raw food uses up 80% of our energy to digest cooked food how does raw food make us feel more energetic? You might eat a bowl of salad or fruit and feel super fresh and energetic. But as soon as it begins to digest in our body, it offers less and short-lived energy afterward.
As per Ayurveda, cooked meals or foods are easily digested than raw food leading to a strong digestive system. Our bodies are accustomed to cooked meals and thus the digestive process happens accordingly. Eating raw foods in lesser quantity balances our digestive system leading to the right amount of nourishment and secretion of enzymes.
Non-Cooked Food and Your Dosha
As per Ayurvedic Raw Food Perspective – non-cooked raw food is not considered bad for your body as long as it is consumed according to your dosha.
Is cold, light, dry, rough and changeable. These are air and ether elements. People of Vata Dosha should not consume raw food, but instead, eat cooked warm food. This will help in easy digestion.
Is heavy, slow, smooth, soft, and static. These are earth and water elements. People of Kapha Dosha will best digest warm, light, dry, and freshly cooked foods.
The reason being raw is cooling in nature and requires an ample amount of Agni to break down. Whereas, the Doshic combination of Vata and Kapha focuses on warming the body to maintain body balance. Eating raw foods frequently will extinguish the Agni or digestive fire of the doshas.
Is hot, oily, sharp, and spreading. These are fire and water elements that have a very strong digestive fire or Agni. People of Pitta Dosha should consume both cooked and raw foods. Follow diets that are rich and high in carbohydrates that leaves you energized. Pitta Dosha has a balance of sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes, thus, focus on consuming raw food that enhances these tastes.
From the Ayurvedic raw food perspective, eating food without cooking is most beneficial for those with pitta dosha. Thus, a pitta dominant doshic combination will easily digest and absorb raw food due to the ample digestive fire.
12 Ayurvedic Guidelines for Eating Raw Food
- Choose foods appropriate to your Dosha that will nourish your body.
- Opt for foods that are easier on the digestion from your food choices. For example, cucumber, lettuce, baby carrots, daikon radish, and tender greens.
- Eat moderate portions to avoid overeating that disturbs the digestive process.
- Avoid cold food and liquids.
- Choose organic or home-grown food as they leave fewer toxins in the body.
- Use clarified butter (ghee), an Ayurvedic superfood with spices as a garnish on your raw salads to enhance digestion.
- Sip on warm water or warm herbal teas throughout the day or between meals to flush out toxins.
- Avoid eating raw foods for dinner. Instead, eat raw foods during the day when your digestive fire (Agni) is at its peak.
- Soak nuts and seeds before you eat them.
- Use flavor-enhancing herbs such as cilantro, mint, thyme, basil and fresh ginger root to aid digestion. These are also known as Ayurvedic healers or superfoods.
- Practice mindful eating and enhance each flavor at every meal you eat. For example, in a salad – taste beetroots/carrots for sweet, greens for bitter, lemon juice for sour, cilantro for astringent, fresh ginger for pungent and rock salt of salty.
- Practice Pranayama (yogic breathing) techniques to increase your digestive fire.
All Ayurvedic Raw Food is not bad. What matters is the tolerance level of each individual’s digestive process. Eating raw food is beneficial for those who are able to digest it smoothly and have their digestive fire (Agni) at peak. Those with weak metabolism are not able to digest raw food and end up with various health problems.
The right way to know if raw foods are suitable for you is to eat keep into account your ability to digest, your dosha type and your health situation. People with Pitta dosha are best suitable to eat raw food as per Ayurveda as they can break down their food during digestion.
Mindful practices such as enhancing each bite of your food or keeping a food journal to note how different types of food make you feel are very helpful. Incorporate Ayurvedic superfoods into your diet for a healthy gut such as lemon, turmeric, ginger, clarified butter(ghee) and many other. Also, following the Ayurvedic eating guidelines will give you healthy digestion and keep health issues at bay.
Listen to your body and follow the right diet according to your body type and not because it is a fad.
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