Your food, your medicine – Ayurvedic principles of nutrition

Principles of healthy eating according to ancient Ayurveda knowledge

“Our food should be our medicine and
Our medicine should be our food”


Health requires healthy food. As per the common say we are what we eat, the choices we make on our everyday lives regarding food, have a primary effect on our health condition. Although it might sound trivial, very few pay proper attention to what they are introducing into their bodies. Different foods have different tastes, properties and effects. It is important not to go blind on everything we eat.

In Ayurveda, food is consideredMahabhaisajya”, the most superior medicine. This is true for both prevention of diseases and disease management. Food is also defined as Poornabrahma”, which satiates the mind, body, and spirit.

Food in Ayurveda – philosophy of life

According to Ayurveda,Ahara(Food) is also one of the three main pillars of life; the other two being sleep and regulated sexual life. The classical texts of Ayurveda of 300 BC–700 AD have entire sections dedicated exclusively for foods. In these detailed descriptions we can find: food classification based on their taste, therapeutic qualities, food safety, food combinations based on their tastes, processing, dose, time, place, prescriptions of consumption and their intake based on the digestive ability of an individual.


  1. 1. Avoid processed foods, oily/heavy foods, leftovers and cold foods and drinks.
  2. 2. Prefer seasonal foods and near to you. In order to avoid foods high in chemicals prefer fresh seasonal foods close to you.
  3. 3. Favor a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. If you are a meat eater, this doesn’t mean you must stop eating meat. Ayurveda doesn’t condemn eating meat or any type of animal deriving foods. For some health conditions and body constitutions, animal source proteins are needed to help support the body and recover strength and energy. Right balance is the key! Simply aim to reduce the quantity you eat and favor lighter proteins like fish and chicken, over heavier, harder-to-digest proteins like red meat.
  4. 4. Try your best to include all six tastes in every meal. The six tastes are: sweet; sour; salty; bitter; astringent; and pungent. Each one has a different action and effect on the body.
  5. 5. Eat in a calm, settled environment. The food we eat not only nourishes our body but also our mind and emotions. Cooking and eating in a harmonious atmosphere gives additional strength and energy to the food we consume. Therefor when eating, try to avoid watching TV, reading, checking your screens, scrolling the news, or discussing stressful topics. Be present in the moment and aware of the food and its tastes.
  6. 6. Eat on time Our body is like a clock, with self-discipline and regular habits and lifestyle our body can regulate its functions in order to perform its metabolic functions at the proper time.
  7. 7. Make lunch your biggest meal and dinner your lightest. At noon, when the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, „Agni” your digestive fire is at its highest, too. For this reason, Ayurveda recommends eating your largest meal of the day at noon, when your inner fire is burning brightly and able to better digest and assimilate nutrients.
  8. 8. Eat in balanced amount. Try to avoid eating to the point of discomfort, or eating rationed portions that leave you feeling hungry and dissatisfied. Self-understand is important. Sometimes if the previous meal was too much or too heavy, we may experience heaviness and non-appetite. In these occasions, for the next meal it’s best to eat a lighter meal or even skip a meal if possible.
  9. 9. Use spices. Spices not only add flavor and aroma; they also bring therapeutic value to the meals. Spices help boost the immune system, and most of them can also improve our digestion for a better absorption and assimilation.
  10. 10. Stay well hydrated. Drink water trough out the day. 2/3 liters are commonly recommended, but depending on your physical activity and weather the amount can vary. Another important aspect; remember not to drink just before or just after your meals. This will negatively affect your „Agni” – digestive fire, by reducing its capacity of properly digest foods. Drinking a cup of warm water 15 to 20 minutes after meal is mostly recommended.

It is impossible to cover all aspects of healthy eating according to the ancient science of Ayurveda in one article. However, it is worth focusing on some of the basic recommendations of Ayurveda for a healthy lifestyle. Food is the best medicine, so be mindful and careful about what you eat and drink. Food doesn’t have to be expensive or vegetarian, what matters is understanding it and eating consciously.

If you have any doubts about what your diet should look like, sign up for our Panchakarma detoxification program, where you will learn and taste balanced meals prepared in accordance with the principles of Ayurvedic cuisine.

Your diet is like a bank account.
Good food choices are good investments.
Be smart on your next meals, choose wisely.
Wishing all of you good health.
Dr. Dhananji Nanayakkara

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