Ayurveda believes that the food we eat literally makes up every part of our body. Every organ system is formed by metabolising of the food we eat and assimilating the nutrients from the metabolised food. Ayurveda divides the body into seven layers (and organ systems) of increasing complexity. Each succeeding layer is formed after the previous layer has absorbed the nutrients required from the food. So if our food is poor in quality, then it stands to reason that our more complex and nuanced inner systems will not be healthy as the existing nutrients have already been used up for the outer layers of the body.
So for example, the reproductive seed, “Shukra” is the very last and most nuanced layer in the body. This layer derives its nutrients after the formation of skin, scalp, hair, blood, lymph, flesh, and bone. So if your basic diet is poor in quality, then the Shukra (quality of sperm and ovum) will also be poor in quality as there is not enough nutrients left in the food after feeding all the previous organ systems.
Hair and nails in Ayurveda is closely linked to “asthi” or the bone system. It is believed that the same components of Asthi also go to make up the nails and hair. So weak and damaged hair could go hand in hand with brittle nails which could go hand in hand with weak bones.
If your hair or skin lacks life, is generally weak and does not grow well, we must always look at the quality of nourishment you are getting and how well it is being assimilated in your body. For today’s post, here are 4 principles of mindful eating that we would like to share from Ayurveda. These are principles that can be followed by all healthy people. If you have a specific condition, are pregnant, or are recovering from an illness, these principles may need to be tweaked individually for you.
- Eat at the right time.
- The process of digestion and assimilation is governed by the forces of Agni. Agni is strongly correlated to the movement of the Sun.
- Therefore the largest meal of your day should be lunch, which should be as close to the midday sun as possible.
- Dinner should be had as close to Sunset as possible. 8:30 pm is the very latest anyone should be eating. 7:00 -7:30 pm is ideal. This meal should be the smallest meal of the day.
- Breakfast is had ideally between 8 am – 9 am. This is the time when the digestive enzymes are availble for food processing as well. The next time they activate is around noon.
- Eat less than your complete capacity. Leave a little room for the food to be further processed.
- Your stomach is approximately the size of your closed fist. While it is a muscle that can expand. If you fill your stomach with food that is much beyond its capacity, it will leave you dull and full of toxins.
- Ayurveda says that after food enters the stomach, it is further processed by the forces of Agni, Vayu and Prithvi. So watery secretions, fiery enzymes, and air will move through the food churning and digesting it. If you have eaten to the fullest, there is no physical space for any of these substances to work on the food. So always eat slightly less than your capacity (10 – 20% less). How much space you leave should be arrived at by you after experimentation.
- Chew your food well.
- Most of us gulp near solid food sending unbroken food to the stomach.
- The texts say that Digestion ends in the stomach. It begins in your mouth.
- The enzymes secreted by your saliva begin breaking down food in your mouth and partially break down your food before it reaches your stomach. The stomach is actually supposed to receive watery partially digested slurry of food. When we chew less and swallow food quickly, we are sending a mass of food that puts a great strain on the stomach. Therefore digestion takes longer than it should and the food we eat ferments and starts generating toxins instead of nourishing us.
- When you chew your food well, you prevent excessive weight gain, ensure higher nutrient assimilation, reduce the strain on your system, and reduce toxin build up in the body.
- When we chew our food properly, we are surprised to see how much less we eat, and how much food our system actually requires to feel satiated.
- Eat mindfully, in silence, concentrating on the food.
- To eat on time, eat the right quantity and chew well, we would need to eat in silence, having taking time out to eat.
- We would also need to give ourselves time, savour our food and practice mindfulness.
- This is the best thing you can do to nourish your body, and ensure that you feed it well with prana and nutrients.
- When you eat mindfully, you will always choose fresher food that is good for you.