In Ayurveda, food is considered the source that determines the physical, emotional, spiritual and social health of an individual. Without healthy and nutritious food, a person’s overall well-being will deteriorate and eventually cease to exist. Across the world, including the US, millions of people have been struggling to battle diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and obesity. Poor eating habits, a stressful lifestyle, the lack of sleep and lack of physical activity are just several of the reasons for these epidemics.
Food is divided into 3 categories:
1) Saatvic – a diet that promotes immunity and health, and is overall vegetarian. It encourages a sound mind, physically fit body, and nurtures the spiritual well-being of the body. The mind is at peace and body maintains homeostasis, with all bodily reactions functioning at a normal level. Examples of saatvic foods are fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, lentils, organic flour, beans and nuts. These foods will promote equilibrium throughout the body when consumed on a daily basis. A person who follows a saatvic diet will likely be free from most preventable illness and minimize toxins in his or her body. People who follow a saatvic lifestyle are balanced, peaceful and happy individuals.
2) Rajas – a diet that includes mostly vegetarian and some non-vegetarian foods. Rajas foods stimulate ambition, competition, creativity, and potential within the mind. Tea and coffee, along with butter, sugar and oil are considered Rajas foods. Foods that are fried, very spicy, overspiced, and cooked in either oil or grease are some good examples. Hence, it is best to use steaming methods for preserving the nutrient elements altogether. Rajas lifestyle followers live life to the fullest and are quite ambitious by nature. Most people fall under the Rajas category.
3) Tamas – this is the least desirable diet, but very common in modern world. A person who has a tamas diet frequently eats fast food, processed food, or foods that are inundated with hormones, chemicals and fertilizers. These also include spoiled, contaminated, stale or moldy foods. Foods from the Tamas diet also are responsible for promoting negative emotional states such as greed, jealously, anger, lust, and unhappiness. Tobacco, alcohol and illegal drugs are also part of the Tamas lifestyle. Unfortunately, people who have chronic illnesses and are self-centered, non-empathetic or experience frequent mood swings are Tamas lifestyle people. Heart, brain, lung, liver, and kidney problems are frequent.
Inevitably, a person who eats either saatvic, rajas, or tamas foods will very likely to follow a lifestyle that matches their diet.