Somehow the Ayurvedic sages could foretell the problems pertaining to food that we would be facing today, 5000 years after the origin of Ayurveda. The Ahar Vidhi Visheshayatan or Rules for Consumption of Food talks about important factors relating to the consumption of food. These factors can help us assess whether the food consumed will lead to health or disease. These principles enlisted are timeless and extremely relevant to our current lifestyle.

  • The original nature of the food item – Prakriti – Before we consume any type of food, we must understand its basic properties. In Ayurvedic terms, this would mean its Rasa (Taste), Virya (Whether its action is cooling or heating), Vipak (effect post digestion), Gunas (basic properties) and Prabhav (special effect). For example, the rasa of wheat is sweet, its virya and vipak are cooling, its gunas are that its heavy and nourishing and its prabhav is that is helps to build tissue. Upon understanding this, once can safely say that wheat is a good food for a child who needs to build muscle and fat but may be too heavy for someone suffering from a cold or obesity.
  • Processing – Sanskar – How a certain food item is processed can change its effect on the body and thus some foods need to be processed. This does not include machinery processing  as that is almost always contraindicated. Ayurvedic shastras have specifically mentioned these processes – 


  • Cooking (Agni Sanskar) – Mostly makes the food lighter to digest and therefore Ayurveda always recommends cooked foods over raw foods.
  • Churning (Manthan Sanskar) – Churning can change the molecular properties of a substance. For example, curds can cause edema. But the same curds when churned into buttermilk can reduce edema. Not all foods need churning.
  • Place of Storage (Desa) – Where a substance is stored is also important. Some herbs are stored in the dark or under a heap of ash to increase their potency. When substances are stored in sunlight, they become drier and hotter while the moonlight makes substances inherently cooler.
  • Time (Kalas) – Certain foods need to be stored for a period of time before they are fit for consumption. Grains, especially rice must always be aged to one year to reduce its water content. Same is for Jaggery. If consumed sooner, both can create a slimy undesirable environment in the gut and lead to intestinal worms. At the same time, if water or cooked foods are kept overnight, they become stale and are not fit for consumption.
  • Form of the substance (Kalpana) – What is the best form for the consumption of a certain food so that it gives the desired effect. For example, ginger juice is more potent and heating than dried ginger. Therefore fresh ginger can cause ulcers but also be ore effective during a cold. Mint is much stronger as a tea than a paste. 

  • Food combinations – Samyoga – Certain foods just don’t combine well and when eaten together often can become a cause for diseases. These are some poor food combinations that are seen commonly.
  • Honey + Warm Substance (including teas)
  • Lentil + Dairy
  • Milk + Fruit (Mangoes and dates are exceptions)
  • Milk + Salt (No meals with salt are to be consumed with milk)
  • Milk + Fish

  • Quantity – Rashi – The amount of food consumed needs to be given serious consideration. Generally speaking, Ayurveda advises one to eat till he is full to the two thirds of his capacity. 

  • Place – Desa – The place where the food is grown says a lot about its nature. For example, mangoes grow in tropical climates which are hot and moist. They also ripen in the summer. Thus we can conclude that mangoes are hot and moist in the body too. Similarly, grains that grow in wetlands contain more moisture than those in drier places. Also, when we consume foods that don’t grow locally, our bodies may not be suited to them. This answers the question whether we should be eating many foreign foods like tofu and quinoa. According to Ayurveda – the answer is no. We must always ask the question – where does this food come from and what is the environment like in that place.

  • State of the person eating – Kala –  The state of health of the person eating the food needs to be considered. One cannot say that a certain substance is good for all. This is the common pitfall of the current times, where broad claims like “spinach is great for health etc” are made. Ayurveda lays great emphasis on assessing the current health status of the one who is eating the food. One man’s bread can be another’s poison.
    Similarly, the age of the person is to be considered. Certain foods are not to be eaten by certain age groups. For example, chewing paan or betel leaf is contraindicated in childhood. 

  • Basic Rules or Upyog Samsatha – This is the most important part of this section as it enumerates some basic rules. 
  • The food should always be warm and cooked as they support the Agni and pacify vata.
  • The food should have enough fat and oils. Dry foods lead to health complications and aging. 
  • The food should be always eaten in the right quantity in order to protect the Agni. Two thirds of your capacity.
  • A few sips of water or tea during the meal is better than drinking water before or after.
  • Food should only be consumed after the previous meal has been digested, usually three hours.
  • Foods possessing completely opposing qualities shouldn’t be eaten together. Example hot spicy soup followed by a cold ice cream.
  • The food should be consumed in a proper environment so that the senses are pleased and the mind is relaxed.
  • The food shouldn’t be consumed too fast as it will lead to Vata aggravation and cause bloating, gas as well as diminishment of the Agni.
  • The food shouldn’t be consumed too slowly either as it will lead to the food becoming cold and can lead to kapha aggravation.
  • Talking or laughing are not recommended during mealtimes as one can gulp great amounts of air and hurt the Agni.
  • The shastras also recommend that food should be eaten mindfully and with full concentration. Only then a person can know the right quantity and quality of food that he should consume. Today, scientists have proven that when we concentrate on our food, our gut and stomach release more digestive enzymes and thus enhance digestion.
  • Most importantly, one should assess whether a food is compatible to him. Foods that have been eaten for generations in a family are generally suitable to eat. When a completely new, foreign food is introduced; there is a high chance that the genes have no memory of how that food is to be processed. Once again, this indicates that we should be wary of introducing too many foreign foods in our diet.


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