The aim of Ayurved is twofold, firstly it is “SwasthyaRakshan” or preserving the good health of a healthy individual and secondly, it is VikaarPrashaman or curing the disorders of a diseased individual. The divine knowledge of Ayurved which is believed to be passed on to the mortals by the immortals above is completely devoted to these two attributes. While we have discussed a lot on the importance of dietetics for the maintenance of good health in terms of eating according to our constitution, diurnal or seasonal fluctuations, today’s article is to emphasize the importance of eating appropriately in disease too as that becomes the first step towards reversal of the conditions which have contributed to the disease formation.
According to the principles of Ayurved, derangement of the digestive power (Agni) occurs in many diseases, which is the prime reason for the formation of vitiated dosha, Ama (toxic substances) and malformation of Dhatus (body tissues). Hence, it is important to restore the normalcy of the digestive power. This objective can be attained by using a properly managed diet regimen according to the condition of doshas and type of the disease. Unfortunately, modern system of medicine gives negligible importance to this task of correcting the diet of a patient and therefore general masses find it difficult to do any sort of diet-intervention when they come for treatment to an Ayurvedic physician whose first preference is to correct the diet and the lifestyle of a patient and put them on minimum medication. On the contrary, they avoid Ayurvedic treatment altogether blaming it on the doctor for giving too many “dietary restrictions”, not realising the fact that it is for their own betterment!
“Pathya-apathya” is a unique concept true to Ayurved which gives guidelines about ‘pathya’- (beneficial diet and lifestyle) and apathya (harmful diet and lifestyle) for a particular disease or a pathological condition. The food characteristics and properties will change according to the season, place and person hence pathya also changes accordingly. Pathya not only advocates intake of wholesome food but also it directs to follow a certain regimen to fasten the process of recovery from the diseased state. Whatever is beneficial may not be essentially comfortable or enjoyable! For an instance, having bed tea (on an empty stomach) may be enjoyable for some but definitely not beneficial or healthy. For a patient of hyperacidity, this could be a grave mistake. But, we seldom see any counselling done by the conventional doctors about this and the patient is put on antacids without appropriate dietary invention and therefore there is only a temporary cure to the disease and never a permanent solution.
People conveniently forget an important fact that most disorders are borne out of unhealthy ways of eating and living life. Therefore correcting them becomes mandatory and that is exactly what treating the root cause is. These are some points to ponder on-
- Treatment of any disorder specifically metabolic disorders which are on the rise today substantially starts with diet and lifestyle intervention.
- Diseases like diabetes mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, obesity, digestive disorders etc can be easily reversed when in early stages, merely with an appropriate dietary regimen. Even high degree fevers or infectious conditions could be reversed in no time with appropriate diet and minimum medication.
- Dietary recipes which are propagated as home remedies may not be useful for all and even may prove dangerous for some. So whatever is propagated as a universal remedy for a particular disease is not to be believed in.
- The knowledge of dietetics in Ayurved is profound and thoroughly scientific. Through this platform, I would like to urge individuals to get consulted by an Ayurvedic physician, especially if you are suffering from long-standing illnesses and are being told to continue the medication for lifelong.
- Specific allergies to foods like milk, gluten, eggs, sea-food, certain fruits etc are borne out of inappropriate ways of eating them. For an instance drinking milk after meals or before going to sleep may induce “milk allergy” or consuming wheat which is newly harvested may cause “gluten intolerance”. In such cases completely giving up on these food items is not advisable but treating the underlying cause of this intolerance and eating them appropriately is the solution.
- Even if two patients are suffering from the same disorder their dietary program may vary. What may be good for one person may not be good for another person in the context of all the involved variables. Another important point in this context is the rule that “one must exercise moderation in everything one eats or does” – otherwise even nectar can turn poisonous and thus defy its very purpose.
- When patients are put on a restricted diet they worry whether there will get the necessary essentials like proteins, vitamins and minerals, etc. When diseased, the body is in an agitated condition and bringing it out of this state should be the priority of the physician. The patient when subjected to correct diet already starts recovering and feeling better and thus the digestive system gets boosted further and becomes capable of assimilating these nutrients better than before. The food may seem insufficient by itself but in combination with the treatment and medicines, the body is definitely being well cared for.
Appropriate dietary regimen for a prescribed amount of time could be cumbersome for that period but it will prove to be fruitful in regaining lost health. It creates a favourable environment in the body of the diseased individual which aids in healing and also any medication that is administered works better in such an environment.
Consultant at Traya Natural Health Centre