As Ayurveda rightly says “Aarogyam Bhojanadhinam” means health depends on the food one consumes. An understanding of food and the factors that influence the nutrition it provides us is important to making correct food choices. 

These factors as described by Charaka are the basic rules for understanding Ayurvedic nutrition, called Ashta Ahara Vidhi Vishesha Ayatana or the eight aspects of nutrition. It provides an in-depth knowledge of how nutrition depends on many factors. 


Understanding the inherent properties of food is an important aspect of determining how and when to eat it. Ayurveda classifies food with 20 different adjectives. Some of these adjectives are heavy and light, dry and unctuous, hot and cold amongst others. Understanding the digestibility, heaviness or lightness and oiliness or dryness of a food substance helps in making correct food choices as per the digestive capacity. For instance, we know Lamb meat is Guru or heavy to digest while yellow split lentil or Moong Dal is Laghu or light to digest. Hence, a person suffering from indigestion would be best off sticking to a choice of food that is easy to digest. 


Certain foods are not compatible with digestion if eaten in their original form. They need to be processed in a manner to be made suitable for consumption. There are different ways as per Ayurveda which are applied to process food items in order to make them easily digestible, flavorful and compatible with the digestive fire or Agni. Cleaning, washing, churning, heating, boiling and grilling are a few methods. 

For instance, most people feel that salads are the most nutritious food to be consumed. But raw food is hard to digest and can even cause digestive issues if one has weak Agni/digestive fire. Raw food further vitiates Vata in the body and can cause many mental disturbances. Cooked food is more easily absorbable by the body and hence offers a more digestible food choice. Meat that is grilled or barbecued is easier to digest compared to other methods of cooking.

Another very important staple to understand is Curd. Curd is heavy to digest and is contraindicated in inflammation or any swelling while the same curd when made into buttermilk will help reduce inflammation and oedema. The simple act of churning the curd or processing it changes its inherent quality. 

Processing a food substance with certain spices and flavors changes its taste and properties, and also prolongs its shelf life. Eg: Pickles in Indian cuisine are processed with many different spices like mustard seeds, fennel seeds, cumin, salt, turmeric etc. and oils which not only enhance its flavor but also act as a preservative and increase its shelf life. 

Leaving the food substances soaked in water or other solutions like saline water, marinades etc. helps improve its digestibility and property. For instance, nuts when eaten without soaking in water have heating potency and are heavy to digest. Same nuts when soaked in water for 6-8 hours become cooling and light to digest. 

Aging is another such process, where you leave a food substance for a certain time period, which brings about a change in its properties and digestibility quotient. 

New rice (freshly harvested) is difficult to digest, whereas Puranashali (old rice) is lighter. 1-year-old rice (after harvesting when it attains 1-year maturity) is lighter and 2-year-old rice is even better. These days we are eating newly harvested rice making it difficult to digest, which in turn gives birth to many health issues. Rice usually has the effect of increasing Kapha Dosha when eaten in excess.

However, aged rice is Tridosha balancing. You are best off buying and storing your rice for a year before consuming it, ensuring a light and digestible staple. 

Other than rice, ghee, jaggery and millets are also aged, making them more digestible and Dosha friendly. 


Samyoga means combination. Two or more substances when mixed together may exhibit totally different qualities from the individual components. One should be thoroughly aware of the properties and qualities of the individual substances and combinations as some combinations may prove detrimental to one’s health. A very important example of a combination is Ghee and Honey. Ghee and Honey are the most nutritious food substances as we know. But mix them in equal quantities and they will become a toxic combination. 

Read more about Incompatible food combinations 


According to Ayurveda, the right amount of food is that which gets digested as well as metabolized in the proper time without disturbing the equilibrium of Dhatus or Doshas in the body. A proper quantity of food provides strength, complexion, happiness and longevity to the person. It helps maintain dosha balance without disturbing the equilibrium. Also facilitates normal digestion, metabolism and assimilation without causing any discomfort.

It’s important to understand that the quantity of food is a dynamic proposition. An office going person requires more mentally stimulating foods than a farmer. It will help him use his intellect, decision making and analytical ability in his work. A farmer would require more calorie-rich food than a corporate employee, which can give him enough energy and fuel to sustain the physical labor he does. 


Time and season are important factors when it comes to consuming food. The season in which food items show their highest nutritive value and the time of their consumption are the salient points to be considered. As mentioned in the last point, consumption of untimely grown and artificially matured food items is hazardous to health and causes diseases. What is available around you in terms of season and time is best suited for you. 

For instance, mangoes are available in summer but they are of hot potency. If you remember, your grandmother would soak the mango before consuming them. Fresh juicy fruits are available in the summer months. It is the time and season to consume them. Coconuts grow in the coastal region. The cooling coconut water is perfect for hot and humid regions. The same chilled coconut if consumed in the winter months in a hilly region will only bring disease. 


Upayukta is the consumer or user, one who eats food. Suitability of

food to the consumer is also an important point to consider. Getting accustomed to or adapting to a particular diet is Okasatmya. Consumers should be aware of one’s own constitution, and intake of food as a regular habit, at the right times, in proper quality and quantity. Food that is well digested is nutritious. Food that is not suitable for you might be full of nutrients but will only be detrimental to your health. So, rethink that avocado, the Goji berries, the Quinoa. Understand your body and your individual Agni first. 


Any food item that is grown locally is beneficial to one’s health. There is a reason why nature puts something in a certain place. Coconuts grow in abundance in the coastal region while walnuts grow in the colder region. Nature has its own wisdom that we must recognise and respect.

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