In various Ayurveda texts, description has been given regarding wholesome and unwholesome food items. These criteria of selection & rejection of food substances is based on certain principles. All the text has described these principles by two methods. (1) General guideline and (2) Particular qualities of each food-substance. If you see the original description, now a day’s everyday and occasional diet have changed not only India but most places of world. The general guidelines therefore are more useful for application.
All food items can be tested by following methods-
· Pentadic or primordial dominance ( Panchabhautik),
· Taste & acceptability,
· By examining chemical or organic means,
· Animal examination regarding maturity of its tissues, feeding & excretory products etc.
· Prepared food examination regarding its contact with water, fermentative factors used, preservatives added and the qualities of combined ingredients.
· Evolvement of biological products.
While consuming one have to pay attention to avoid VIRUDHA or opposite: this technical term means various combination of food which is not useful for nourishment. If proper attention is not paid then even, wholesome food becomes opposite and may prove harmful to person. The food which is otherwise wholesome in a cold region may not prove the same in a hot region. Also seasonal variations are to be considered.
Every individual possesses a specific capacity to digest & convert food to body tissues. This capacity varies from individual to individual. Certain people maintain well by avoiding heavy food while others can be healthy by consuming that. This difference due to individual’s specific capacity to convert quantum and qualities to raw to fine. Life will become unhealthy and unhappy, if digestive capacity/JATHARAGNI is ignored and only nutritive value is considered. The same is true for a proportion of main nutritive items of diet and spicy which digestion promoting items, if the proportion is not maintained; the consumer will suffer from harmful effects.
While advising diet, a tolerance to particular food must be taken into account, because people residing in different geographical regions have different tolerance to various food items. The doshic dominance in the body demands a particular type of food. It is observed that some maintain their health by repeated fasting while some require more food but do not tolerate the delay in eating even for short span. This happens due to dominance of DOSHAS/ biological body humors.
The process of preparation of a diet is also very important, similarly, if opposite qualities food mixed together while preparing, then useful ingredients lose their potential, and the diet may become harmful. The Gastro Intestinal Tract Lumina is going to receive food and the difference in acceptability is due to the different pattern of G. I. Tract of the recipient. Hence harmful effects in this example can be avoided.
The method and source of heat for cooking the food is also very important. Because it may add subtracts the total beneficial effect of food. Slow and fast heating, direct or indirect heating, or either baking, roasting etc. have different effects on various food items & consequently the nourishing capacity of food changes accordingly. Many food substances have their best utility for a particular short span. If these items are used before or after this span, they lose their nutritive value. Premature, over preserved or even hybrid food substances may appear like wholesome but they lack in optimal quantities that are expected from them.
From this you can get idea, of what depth the ultimate nourishability of food is considered by Ayurvedic scientists. It is not the ingredient analysis alone is responsible for nourishment, but that the building up of body tissues is dependent upon so many other contexts along with the proper substances. The substances, which have maximum beneficial effects, have certain common characters. These are easy for digestion, homologous to tissues, are easily absorbed and provide optimal roughage required for excretory products. Hence these food items can be consumed in all seasons.
It is common observation that at present we do not consume these. This might be the cause for disease occurrence and drug dependence.