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Expert physician Vaidya Vyas on diet, digestion, and nutrition: A central area in Maharishi Ayur-Veda health care
by Global Good News staff writer
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23 August 2013
One of the central approaches of Maharishi Ayur-Veda* health care for preventing disease and promoting health is the important area of diet, digestion, and nutrition. Vaidya Vyas, an expert Maharishi Ayur-Veda physician from India, recently gave an overview of this knowledge in a lecture presented at Maharishi European Research University (MERU) in the Netherlands.
Vaidya Vyas is a respected and highly experienced physician who has created and given many courses on Maharishi Ayur-Veda.
One main point he emphasized is that in Ayurveda, diet consists of more than the concepts of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates; it is treated holistically in terms of nourishment to the body. We should nourish every level—physiological, psychological, and spiritual—through what we eat. Proper dietary choices can improve a person's intelligence, consciousness, and memory. Learning about Maharishi Ayur-Veda helps one select foods that nourish on all three levels.
Maharishi Ayur-Veda describes three main categories of food (sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic), and the roles of the six tastes (sweet, sour, bitter, astringent, pungent, and salty) and how they need to be incorporated into every meal.
Vaidya Vyas used the sweet taste as an illustration. Sweet is the nourishing taste, and it increases bodily strength. From the perspective of Ayurveda, foods and herbs are not described in terms of fat, protein, or carbohydrate; but these elements are contained within the sweet taste, for it includes everything, he said.
Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of balance in digestion. It is essential that the 'digestive fire' is balanced, to properly support the rest of the physiology, Vaidya Vyas explained. A balanced digestive fire starts with proper food preparation. There are guidelines for cooking, and what to do before, during, and after eating.
In addition to the digestive fire there are other factors responsible for good digestion that include oil (in the food), water, Vayu (air), correct time for eating, and a balanced approach to the entire daily routine.
In a discussion of how much fat a person should consume Vaidya Vyas indicated that it is not fixed—it depends on the person's constitution. Everyone needs to eat at least a little fat, he said, but some more than others. If one cuts fat completely out of the diet, it creates an imbalance that can lead to disorders in the gastrointestinal area.
Throughout his talk Vaidya Vyas continually came back to the concept of balance. How to achieve balance is different for different physiologies, depending on one's constitution, but everyone needs to strive for balance.
The Ayurvedic approach is holistic and is very different from that of modern science. Nourishment, according to Ayurveda, means nourishing the body's tissues. To evaluate the level of nourishment we can look at the body. For example, Vaidya Vyas said, to see if the fat we eat is nourishing us properly we look at the skin to ascertain if it is dry or supple. If the skin is dry, intake of fat may need to be increased a little. The ultimate aim of nourishment is to create physiological immunity.
Vaidya Vyas's lecture was drawn from the syllabus for a 16-lesson course on Diet, Digestion and Nutrition, which is taught at MERU and in centres teaching the Transcendental Meditation programme around the world. (Maharishi Ayur-Veda physicians and consultants also give personal consultations and can prescribe specific guidelines to address particular imbalances in the physiology.)
See related article: Maharishi Ayur-Veda self-pulse reading to create balance in mind and body
* Ayurveda is the world's oldest, most comprehensive system of natural medicine, which originated in the Vedic civilization of ancient India and is now officially recognized by the World Health Organization. Maharishi Ayur-Veda is the modern restoration by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi of the complete and authentic practice of Ayurveda as recorded in the Vedic texts.
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