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Eating the right food to promote health and bliss
by Paul Morehead

The M.U.M. Review    Translate This Article
14 December 2005

Food is one of the three pillars of health according to the ancient texts of Maharishi Consciousness-Based Health Care(SM). The others are sleep and behavior according to Natural Law.

Food not only provides us with fuel for energy, but also all the nutrients that become our body tissues. According to the ancient Vedic text on health, Charaka Samhita, food provides much more.

'Food sustains the life of living beings. All living beings in the universe require food. Complexion, clarity, good voice, longevity, creativity, happiness, contentment, nourishment, strength, and intellect all depend on food. Actions performed for worldly achievement, attainment of heavenly life, and enlightenment are all dependent on food.' —Charaka Samhita, Sutrasthan 27. 349-350

Clearly food is essential for vitality and a happy, healthy life, growing in the direction of enlightenment. There are several factors that can help us choose the best foods and aid in digesting the food properly.

The Food

The quality of food we choose is important. What we ingest from food is more than specific chemicals, proteins, fats, or carbohydrates. It is the intelligence of food that we are taking in. And that vitality and intelligence gets transformed into our own physiology. For example, a fresh, organic, tree-ripened apple will have the maximum nutrition and vitality, and it will provide a specific nourishing effect on the body. Apples are sweet and a little astringent, so they will nourish the body but they are not too heavy for digestion.

The specific intelligence contained in a food can be determined with great precision from the taste of the food. There are six tastes of food: sweet, sour, salt, pungent (hot, spicey), bitter, and astringent. Astringent may be the least familiar taste. It causes a dry puckering sensation in one's mouth. The astringent taste is mainly found in beans and pulses (dal) and some spices and fruits (turmeric, persimmon).

Each taste has a specific effect on the three controlling principles of the body: Vata (movement) Pitta (transformation) and Kapha (structure). Here is a chart to show the effects of the six tastes.

Note that the tastes which decrease Vata increase Kapha and vice versa. The hot tastes increase Pitta (sour, salty, pungent).

Examples of Foods for Each of the Six Tastes

Sweet: sugar, grains, milk, ghee, butter, bread, many cooked vegetables, dal

Sour: citrus fruit (oranges, lemons, etc.), yogurt, cheese, sour cream, unripe fruit

Salty: any food with salt added

Pungent: hot spicey foods, pepper, jalapeno, chilis

Bitter: green leafy vegetables, turmeric, raw vegetables

Astringent: dal, beans, turmeric

It's important to have all six tastes in a meal. This brings satisfaction as well as balancing all three Doshas. Often when we feel dissatisfied with a meal, it's because we haven't had all six tastes. The easiest way to ensure having all six tastes is to use Maharishi Ayur-Veda Churnas. These are spice mixtures of all six tastes, but also with an emphasis on balancing one of the Doshas. This winter season, Vata Churna is best for most people.

Here are some important tips for healthy eating.

Food Choices

• Eat a variety of warm foods. At each meal it is good to have a grain (rice, or cous cous, or quinoa, etc.), two cooked vegetables, a dal or bean soup, and some dairy such as yogurt or lassi. If you are hungry, a flat bread will add more sweet taste and will build strength (yeasted bread is OK if toasted, but aggravates Vata). If you eat a good variety of foods, you will ensure that you're getting balanced nutrition, including proteins, carbohydrates, fats, minerals, and vitamins.

• Add a few spices such as ginger, cumin, or fennel to aid digestion.

• Milk is an excellent food which promotes consciousness and balance, but don't drink it with meals that have mixed tastes (vegetables, etc.). You should only drink milk with sweet tastes, such as cereal or toast. Milk should be organic and should be boiled before drinking.

• It's fine to sip warm or room temperature drinks with meals. But don't drink large quantities of liquids before, during or after meals as this dilutes the digestive power (fire).

• Add a little lemon juice to the food or to your tea. This stimulates your appetite and digestion. If your digestion is sluggish, chew a slice of fresh ginger before meals.

• For aiding digestion and balancing the Doshas, few foods are as excellent as lassi, a drink made from 1 part yogurt blended with about 4 parts water. Put about 1/4 cup yogurt in the blender, blend for 15 seconds. Add 1 cup of water with 1/4 teaspoon (tsp) cinnamon or cardamom and 1 tsp sugar. Blend well and enjoy after lunch or dinner. For a digestive lassi, use 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cumin and 1/8 to 1/4 tsp salt instead of the cinnamon and sugar.

• Try new things. Even if a food is new to you, there are many very healthy choices. You may discover some interesting new tastes.

The Process of Eating

• Eat with your full attention. This allows you to enjoy and taste the food, thereby gaining maximum nourishment. We should minimize talking and laughing, and should not read or watch TV while eating.

• Chew your food well. Digestion begins in the mouth.

• Sit quietly before eating, or say grace, to settle your mind and body.

• It's important to sit quietly for at least 5 minutes after eating. Never rush eating. That will lead to indigestion and impurities that cause imbalance.

• It is best to eat to 3/4 of your capacity. Overeating will immediately create imbalance in all three Doshas, and lead to the toxic undigested food product called Ama, which becomes acidified and blocks the channels throughout the body, causing many disorders.

It is said in Charaka Samhita that he who eats the proper amount at the proper time with all six tastes, with due consideration to himself, creates strength, vital health, and longevity.

Another fascinating point is that excellent, healthy diet, digestion, and metabolism lead to the creation of a very special, subtle substance called Ojas, which is so refined that it is almost consciousness. It is the substance which coordinates and organizes all the physiological processes in the body. It is synonymous with immunity and strength of the body. Fully enlivened Ojas results in the full enlivenment of intellect and ultimately pure consciousness. And that is our goal at Maharishi University of Management, to develop that unbounded awareness that is the source of perfect health and all success in life.

Copyright © 2005 Maharishi University of Management

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