Ayurveda is a holistic science, meaning it views the body, mind, and spirit as one interconnected unit—each layer being inseparable from the others. Rather than immediately narrowing its focus down to one area of the body or one aspect of health, the Ayurvedic lens begins by widening its focus and supporting the health and well-being of the entire person.
With this foundational understanding that all aspects of our being are connected and dependent upon one another, Ayurveda places a large emphasis on the strength, health, and function of the digestive tract. Digestion is believed to be an essential first step in establishing and maintaining optimal health throughout the entire body and mind.
Ayurveda recognizes many ways to support healthy digestion, such as eating at specific times of day, sitting down to eat mindfully and chew thoroughly, and making sure that you infuse your foods with intention and love. And of course, the most obvious way to cultivate healthy digestion is to eat a diet that is beneficial for you and your unique constitution.
The ancient sages of Ayurveda lived and ate according to the simple understanding that food is our best medicine. They had an inherent knowledge of what we refer to today as functional foods—foods that have a potentially positive effect on our overall health beyond just basic caloric nutrition.1
Also known as nutraceuticals, functional foods have gained popularity within health and wellness circles in recent years. These types of foods are prized for their high nutrition content, their beneficial effect on health, and their potential to prevent imbalance and dis-ease.2
Functional foods can sometimes refer to foods that have been enhanced, enriched, or fortified with extra vitamins, minerals, or nutrients. But more relevant to Ayurveda, functional foods include most naturally occurring whole foods that are rich in important nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and heart-healthy fats.3
For example, specific food for memory improvement or herbs and food for the brain such as walnuts or brahmi/gotu kola are considered functional foods. Foods such as oatmeal, with high levels of heart-supporting fiber content, and fresh berries, with their abundance of antioxidants, are also considered functional foods.
If you’re someone who likes to nerd out on the specific breakdown and function of your fats, carbs, starches, minerals, and other nutritional components, this realm of health has plenty to offer! But to make a long story short, it all comes back to Ayurveda’s age-old wisdom that fresh, healthy, whole foods provide the nourishment we need for optimal digestion and overall health.
We hope these articles will assist you along your Ayurvedic journey and help you fall in love with a healing, nutritional diet. You will find information on organic spices and herbs, the benefit of a food combining chart, and the unique properties of the six tastes—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent.
Whether you’re searching for brain food for memory, cleansing foods for a healthy gut, fruits and vegetables for increased vitality, or simply cultivating a deeper relationship with your body and your diet in general, you’ve come to the right place!
1Katherine Zeratsky, R.D. “What Are Functional Foods?” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, June 27, 2020. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-answers/functional-foods/faq-20057816.
2Link, Rachael. “Functional Foods: Definition, Benefits, and Uses.” Healthline. Healthline Media, January 17, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/functional-foods#examples.
3Link, Rachael. “Functional Foods: Definition, Benefits, and Uses.” Healthline. Healthline Media, January 17, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/functional-foods#examples.