Ayurveda is the science of life and longevity and not a mere elaboration of diseases and cures. It is a description of how to lead ones life in tune with nature and its concepts include all that are essential to make a man healthy and happy.

Two main objectives of Ayurveda are the maintenance of positive health and the treatment of disease.

Indicators of Ideal Health

According to Ayurvedic precepts, the indicators of good health are:


  1. Good appetite
  2. Normal functioning of sense organs
  3. Good digestion
  4. Normal urine output
  5. Sound sleep
  6 .Lightness of body
  7. Good mental faculties

Ayurveda being the Science of life, blend in with the day to day life of an individual. The science has clearly defined the daily routine from dawn to dusk, from waking up till sleep for the maintenance of good health

Three pillars of healthy living

Diet - It is essential to know what to eat, when to eat, how much to eat and how to eat. Ayurveda says that it is the individual who knows best what suits his body. No food suits two individuals alike due to a combination of various factors. Any substance, however good it may be, if taken in excess, is harmful to the body. Timely and moderate eating habits will serve you well.

Sleep - Give your body sufficient rest. In pursuit of all the material benefits and comforts, you treat your body like a donkey; abuse it to the extent you can; and finally you are an exhausted person even when you have the comforts. Give your body time to recover from the wear and tear of the daily stress and strain.

Celibacy - Total abstinence from sexual activity may not be possible for ordinary mortals - but a restrained sexual life, is certainly possible. Sexual promiscuity leads to various diseases as is so well known today.

Thus the factors of diet, sleep and celibacy play an important role in determining the health of the individual. 

Ahara or diet - An Ayurvedic approach

A person can become disease-free just by the resorting to a diet plan beneficial for the individual. Hence the diet is referred to as the "greatest medicine" by Sage Kasyapa.

A self controlled person should take food only after considering these factors related to food which are - svabhava(natural qualities),  samyoga (admixture),  samskara (processing),  matra (quantity),  desa (habitat), kala (time) and upayoga vyavastha (mode of using).

Svabhava is the natural quality of the food. For example, rain water, green grams, red rice, meat of deer etc. are easily digestible; whereas milk, sugarcane juice, black gram and meat of animals living in marshy region are not so easily digestible. However one must remember that these natural qualities will undergo change by the effect of mixing with other substances.

Samyoga or admixture is the mixing of two or more substances together. One should be very careful while mixing two substances for sometimes the two may be incompatible and act like poison once it is ingested.

Samskara or processing is the result of contact with water or fire, washing, churning, place, time, mode and vessel used for cooking. Thus preparatory processes like putting rice in water for soaking, grinding, roasting, frying, boiling, cooking in steam, baking etc. also affect the quality of the food.

Matra is applicable to the total quantity of food to be consumed and also to each item separately. Certain articles of food should compulsorily be consumed in less quantity - these are mostly items, which are harder to digest.

Desa refers to both the region in which the article of food is grown and also to the region where the user lives. Desa also refers to the body of the user, which means giving consideration to the state of his health, strength, constitution and digestive capacity.

Kala refers to the time of the year, time of the day, age of the user and the stage of the disease (if exists) and also to the intake of food in relation to proper/improper digestion of the previously partaken meal.

Upayoga vyavastha refers to the manner of taking food.

Food should be taken after cleansing of oneself and after offering due prayers. It should not be contaminated. Food should be prepared freshly and should not be overcooked or reheated. The food should not be taken very late in the evening or very early in the morning, in a very open place, in sunlight, in darkness, under a tree, lying in bed, in a vessel which is broken, not covered, not clean; and by holding the container or the food in the hand. Food should not be eaten very slowly or very fast and should be eaten with relish.

Significant points about diet

Some other points that the texts mention with regard to one's diet and food habits are as follows:
1. Foods of various tastes and textures should be taken at various stages of a meal depending on the digestive capacity.
2. The texts explain in great detail the importance of the liquid that is taken along with the food and the different types of liquid that go with different food. Generally speaking, water is the best liquid to be taken with food.
3. Water is the chief source of all tastes. It should be taken cold, after consuming curds, honey, barley, wheat and all other foods, which cause burning sensation during digestion and in autumn and summer seasons. It should be taken hot after consuming foods prepared from corn flour and such, others which are hard to digest; and during winter.
4. Milk as an after-drink is best after eating rice; and for those who are debilitated with fasting and for children and the aged.
5. Sour liquids are the best drink after food for those having disorders of vata; sugary liquids for disorder of pitta; and water boiled with triphala and mixed with honey for disease of kapha and of the eyes and throat. In brief, that liquid which possesses the properties opposite of that of the food and that which does not cause any harm to the person is the ideal after drink.
6. The after drink tones up the body, gives satisfaction, invigorates, gives a feeling of contentment, makes the food move downwards easily, breaks the hard material of the food, makes them soft, moistens them, helps for easy digestion and distribution to all parts of the body.
7. The after drink is to be avoided by those who are suffering from diseases of the parts of the body above the shoulders, dyspnoea, cough, excess salivation, hiccups, hoarseness of voice, injury to the chest and those who are indulging in too much of singing and speaking. For such persons, the after drink disturbs the stomach and chest, increases the moisture of the food in the throat and causes watery discharges from the tissues, indigestion, vomiting and other diseases.
8. After meals, the hands and mouth should be thoroughly cleansed with water and the person should not do any strenuous physical work, but rather should rest for about half an hour.
deciding one's diet, one should take into consideration several factors like time of the year, time of the day, place of residence, one's age, one's natural body type, one's digestion capacity, one's inherent and acquired strength and the type of food that one is used to. Further one cannot just identify one's diet and stick to it come what may. There has to be a continuing dynamic interaction with the body at all times and one of the most important factors that need to be considered is the digestion of the previous meal which can be greatly understood by observing one's bowel movements. This should determine whether any extra care needs to be taken, whether any type of food needs to be added or deleted, whether any particular rasa or taste needs to be increased or decreased and so on. Initially though one may have to make a conscious effort to get this understanding, over a period of time, it will come naturally and you will develop a tendency to take only such food and drinks with which your body is comfortable.


Panchakarma,  which includes five major procedures, is meant to purify the whole body by eliminating the accumulated toxins from it. This includes treatments like Virechana (Purgation), Vamana (Emesis), Snehavasthi (Medicated Oil Enema), Kashayavasti (medicated decoction enema) &Nasya (Nasal Administration). The specialty of this treatment is that it can be administered both in a healthy, as well as thediseased person. When a healthy person subjects himself to Panchakarma, it has a preventive, restorative and rejuvenative effect on the body.

In the beginning of the therapy, the body is prepared for the actual process of elimination. This is done by the following processes:

Deepana and Pachana : Deepana and Pachana :The purpose of these treatments is to keep the digestive fire at its best, by means of oral medication

Oleation and Sudationare the most important preparatory measures to have Panchakarma (purification therapies). This includes various types of whole body therapies like Abhyangam, Pizhichil (kayaseka), Navarakizhi, Choornaswedam, Pathrapotalaswedam, etc, can be done both internally as well as externally. Medicated ghees or oils are also administered orally for the purpose of Internal Oleation [Snehapana]. Both these methods lubricate the body channels and loosen the toxins accumulated in the body. Apart from this, localized therapies like Shirodhara, Shirovasti, Greevavasti, Kadeevasti, Nethratharpanam,Thalam, Lepanam will be also done in specific cases.

In the Eliminative Phase, the physician, based upon the condition of the patient's disease, decides the type of the Panchakarma treatment

"It is a sign of health to be willing to be cured"


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