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Sattvic diet is one of the main pillars of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic treatments. According to Ayurveda, there are three types of food – sattvic, rajasic, and tamasic.
Sattvic foods are considered to bring the perfect balance in our body in terms of physical, mental, and emotional well- being of human life. Rajasic foods according to the ayurvedic principle increase the energy of our body whereas Tamasic foods do the opposite and make us lazy and inert.
The word Sattvic is transformed from the Sanskrit word ‘sattva’ that means – ‘pure’. Sattvic foods are plant-based highly nutritious, local seasonal, vegetarian, high fiber, low fat, no artificial sugar, and fewer calories induced foods that include green leafy vegetables, fresh fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, grains, and dairy products.
According to Ayurveda for an ideal life, our ‘aahar'( food) is of utmost importance for a properly balanced diet ensures the proper working of the mind. Sattvic diet founds special mention in the ancient Hindu text ‘Bhagwad Geeta’ wherein the importance of sattvic foods has been highlighted that it is essential for our body, mind, and consciousness.
Sattvic foods stand on the principle of ‘Ahimsa’ (non-violence) and thus are pure vegetarian. Food items like sugar, carbonated drinks, and processed food items are highly avoided in sattvic diets.
According to Ayurveda, the root cause of every disease lies in the poor digestive system. The ancient ayurvedic text Chakra Samhita has one whole chapter dedicated to the importance of digestion and verses that goes deeper into the understanding of how if a person has a weak digestive system, that makes him or her more prone to various digestion problems like- constipation, gastritis, heartburn, ulcerative colitis, and even cancer.
Whereas, a good digestive system ensures:
The text also recites how yogis in ancient times give utter importance to sattvic diet for they believe the light (Ojas) of within shines if our body is well nutritional.
The yogis also believed proper food ensures the upliftment of our soul and mind. Chakra Samhita also put lights on the importance of sattvic foods in the light of eliminating digestion problems that eventually helps a person to raise their own consciousness.
Ayurveda gives utmost importance to ‘AMA’ and ‘AGNI’. These are Sanskrit words for which means ‘toxins’ and ‘digestive fire’. Sushruta Samhita an ancient ayurvedic text puts light on the importance of digestion and digestive fire. The following verse of the text is an example:
“Sama dosha sama agnischa sama dhatu mala kriyaaha
Prasanna atma indriya manaha swastha iti abhidheeyate”
The rough translation of the verse – ” We are in a balanced state where our body, mind, and soul are content and in alignment if our digestive fire and excretion work accordingly”
Herein Sattvic diet comes into play and is the responsible factor for ensuring proper digestion and excretion. In the following ways Sattvic diet helps to strengthen the digestive fire:
and thus helps to regulate proper bowel movement. One will always find foods like grains, beans, and legumes in sattvic diets that are easy to digest and keeps your blood sugar levels at check. Such food items support your digestive tract and make it easy to convert the food into energy fuel thus strengthening your digestive fire.
Studies show that if one’s digestive fire is strong then one can keep digestion problems like constipation, bloating, and ulcerative colitis at bay. Sattvic foods because are easy to digest does not leave the hard residue in your digestive tract and hence prevent waste formation in the body. It also helps to balance all your doshas or energy that ensures good energy for your body.
Digestive fire or Agni governs food absorption and assimilation. It is also responsible for the transformation of food into the energy that eventually ensures the proper functioning of the body. According to Ayurveda, our whole body health system is based on our gut health. If your gut is not healthy then you are not healthy.
A strong digestive fire is also an indication of strong gut health. Because sattvic foods are vegetarian based, high fiber-based, and low fat-induced, it boosts your metabolism rate, improves your gut health, strengthens your digestive fire, and keeps your digestion problems at bay.
Dr. Jaani, an Ayurveda practitioner and yoga enthusiast says – “Our ancestors and yogis were aware that we and nature are one hence they knew how to inculcate food into our system accordingly that supports our consciousness”.
One of the major checklists of a sattvic diet is including local seasonal foods as Ayurveda implores that our body responds to the changing seasons. If the digestive fire goes weak in monsoon then it is active during winter and therefore our food has to be accordingly that provides the required nutrition to the body that stimulates the digestive fire.
Sattvic diets include soups, and herbs like cinnamon, ginger, and chamomile for winter that kindles the digestive fire. For summer curd, curd rice, drink made out of dairy products like lassi are favored by the Sattvic diet lovers. ”Accordingly, if proper food is fed to our body, digestion problems are mere to occur” – says Dr. Jaani
Also, the Ayurveda acharyas and doctors strictly recommend certain disciplines like – mindful eating, drinking warm water before a meal, eating three regular meals, eating dinner after early sunset, no water during meals while following the sattvic diet. All these measures ensure an overall healthy working of mind, body, and soul.
Proper bowel movement paves a way for better digestion and digestion related problems. Colon cancer one of the most chronic digestion diseases is the result of improper bowel movements. Constipation, the most common digestive disease is yet another problem caused by an improper bowel movement.
Sattvic diet is a natural remedy that supports your regular bowel movement. The sattvic food items include fluids, fresh fruits, vegetables, medicinal herbs, herbal drinks, and organic produce.
Herbs are the carriers of antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Many of the medicines that are recommended for smooth bowel movement have the laxative properties that are found in herbs.
These laxative properties act as a protective stimulant for the colon and help to regularise bowel movement. Herbs like chamomile, milk thistle, and ginger help to fight constipation – a common digestive disorder.
Herbal teas are yet another essential item in the sattvic food list. Herbal teas are the means to meet your fluid requirements. It also provides your body with proper hydration and helps to retain moisture in your stools that ensure proper bowel movement.
Along with the intake of sattvic diets, fasting once a week boost your digestive system. Fasting is one of the most important tools for a yogic lifestyle and has been mentioned in Hindu scriptures as a way to attain salvation. Modern Ayurveda practitioners however translate that it is a tool that improves your digestion thus offering a calm and peaceful mind and positive energy.
Khichdi that means ‘the mixture’ is a popular recipe and one of the best examples of a sattvic diet. The dish carries the essence of a sattvic diet. It is pure made up of vegetables that include legumes, vegetables, and herbs like turmeric and ginger. Good for your digestion it is light and easy to prepare.