Ahara (food) is the most important factor for sustenance of life. It is described as foremost pillar among the three pillars of life (Trayopsthambha viz. Ahara, Nidra and Bhramcharya) in Ayurveda. When body is supported by the Trayopstambhasa, it is endowed by growth, strength and complexion.
Ayurveda describes four forms of food namely Ashita (eatables), Khadita (chewable), Peeta (drinkable), leedha (lickable).
In Ayurveda the universe is described to be formed from Panchamahabhuta (five basic elements namely Akash, Vayu, Teja, Jala and Prithvi) Accordingly, Ahara is also described to be Akashiya, Vayavya, Agneya, Apya and Parthiva, which when consumed in appropriate proportions, helps in providing nourishment to deha dhatus (body tissues), growth, development and enhancement of ojas.
Ahara is considered as Mahabhaishajya (the superior medicine). Various life style disorders and numerous diseases occur due to faulty dietary habits which may be prevented by proper Ahara and eating habits.
Ayurveda insists that Ahara should be chosen in accordance to the Prakriti or constitution of individual. Hitakara/Pathya food (Wholesome food) as per Ayurveda is conducive for the maintenance of good health, longevity, strength, intellect, good voice and complexion. For a disease free life, Ayurveda emphasizes on the importance of proper nutrition through intake of food by appropriate food choices, food combination, and cooking methods, in right quantity which gets digested as well as metabolised in time. The time, season and place for the food intake are also important. It is advised to refrain from Ahitakar Ahara (unwholesome food).
Healthy body by intake of proper Ahara leads to happiness, observance of truth & brahmacharya and ultimately to salvation.
Dr. Lalita Sharma