Shall I not have intelligence with the earth? 

Am I not partly leaves and vegetable mould myself?
~ Thoreau

The ancient science of Ayurveda is really the art of living wisely, as it empowers people to make choices that nurture and sustain balance, wellness, and vitality. Ayurveda is a nature-based approach to healing that recognizes the unique difference of every individual ~ and, because every one of us is unique, every illness is unique; so, no disease, even if it goes by the same name, can be alike. Therefore, in Ayurveda, we seek to treat not the disease, nor the symptoms of the disease, but the person, the whole person, by attempting to dissolve the underlying cause of suffering and re-establish the fundamental state of wellbeing.

While it is a very personalized system of medicine, there are simple, intuitive and universal guidelines for healthy living. The first principle behind Ayurveda as it relates to food is to eat nature. That may sound simple but walk into an ordinary grocery store and you will be hard-pressed to find real food – i.e., food that is grown by the forces of sun, soil, wind and water. , start by eating nature’s produce, as fresh and as close to the source as possible so that it retains its living intelligence and energy, what we call Prana or life force.

Look to “eat nature” then, as close to its source as possible. When you eat food that is locally grown, you benefit from the intelligence in nature that sustains seasonal balance.  For instance, in Autumn we harvest root vegetables which help build our strength and immunity for winter.  In the Spring, bitter and pungent greens sprout so help us detoxify and lighten winter’s load. So the second principle is to eat according to the season.

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An important general rule it is to maintain a strong Agni. Agni, meaning digestive fire, is the Sanskrit root for our word ignite. For optimal health you have to have optimal fire in the belly. Heavy foods, too much food, cold food, old food, frozen, canned or processed food, even cold water taken with your meal, contribute to reducing the digestive fire.

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Imagine the digestive system as a large fire. If you add too much wood, say “Christmas dinner feast”, then you will put the fire out. If the wood is too wet, too heavy, or too hard you are likely to extinguish the flame. And if you add artificial materials, as most “food” is these days, you will certainly reduce the flames – or, at least, create a lot of toxic smoke. 

If you feel heavy, lethargic, dull-minded, or you are experiencing mood swings, then you may have a low-burning fire that has resulted in a toxic build-up that in turn is making your whole system sluggishness. To strengthen your digestive fire, try fasting to clear any clogging, sticky toxins. You can simply skip dinner one night weekly, or stick to a liquid diet for a few days. Sipping warm vegetable soups and broths for your three meals not only detoxifies, it fans the abdominal flames. Drinking lemon, ginger tea throughout the day, and always with your meal, will increase the digestive fire and help reduce Ama. Also ~ add ginger  to your food when cooking. Try to eat fresh, home-cooked meals as much as possible.  

He who eats too much food or too little, who is always drowsy or restless, will never succeed in the yoga of meditation. for the man who is moderate in food and pleasure, moderate in action, moderate in sleep and waking,  yoga destroys all sorrow. ~Bhagavad Gita VI.16-17

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