Is Ayurveda a ‘Salad’ Science?!?!
In the era of online consultation and virtual prescriptions, googling the symptoms to get the diagnosis and treatment is ‘the thing’. This has paved way for lots and lots of health blogs and Instagram handles that come up with instant health fixes everyday. Internet is overflowing with Ayurveda tips as well, but their authenticity is always a question mark!
One such post that caught my attention was ‘Salad-a-day challenge – 31 Ayurvedic salads to eat this month!’ Reading the post really urged me to write this article so as to throw some light on what Ayurveda actually says about ‘Salads’.
In my interaction with people, I realized that most of them have an impression that consuming ‘Salads’ or precisely ‘raw vegetables’ is ‘Ayurvedic’! Including many vegetables in one’s meal is ‘Ayurvedic’! Drinking vegetable juices is ‘Ayurvedic’! These are a ‘must do’ to stay healthy because, salads are light, easy to digest and keep one’s weight in check!
Most of them would be surprised and many shocked, when I say Ayurveda does not advocate consumption of salads or raw vegetables! Let us understand the science behind this contra-indication…
- By and large, raw vegetables are hard to digest as they contain high percentage of insoluble fibres and our system lacks enzymes to break down these fibres. The fibres pass through the stomach and small intestine undigested and enter the large intestine where all the unpleasant symptoms like abdominal cramps, bloating, diarrhea and constipation occur.
- It makes the digestive system to overwork, thereby slowing it down and gradually diminishing the digestive fire.
- Being fibre-rich, raw vegetables have very little nutritive value, thus failing to nourish the body tissues and fluids. They only can increase the bulk of the stools.
- This not so nourishing quality can diminish the lustre of the skin and shine of the hair.
- Owing to its drying quality, it gradually dries up the internal lining of the digestive system, leaving it dry and weary.
- It also dries up the joints and joint fluids
- Excess fibre can increase the pushing movement of the intestine (peristalsis), preventing effective mineral absorption in the intestines. Hence, the bone health could suffer, often leading to osteoporosis!
- Raw vegetable consumption causes untimely ageing, showing up symptoms like premature greying of hair, wrinkling of skin, diminished memory and sharpness of vision.
- Overall, it makes the body dry and weak, lacking lustre and lubrication.
How can we fix this problem? Is giving up vegetable consumption the only way out?
Now it is time to bring in the wisdom of Ayurveda:
- Always choose locally grown and seasonal vegetables. Daily consumption of foreign veggies is a big no!
- The best food to eat is that which is cooked, warm, moist and well lubricated. So, gently cook / saute the vegetables with healthy fats and salt, because cooking breaks down the fibres and makes them easy for digestion. This is indeed the most important step! Adding healthy fats contradicts the ‘drying quality’ thereby preventing bloating and abdominal discomfort.
- Flavour it with digestive spices like cumin, asafoetida, fennel seeds etc., Indian tadka being the best. This kindles the digestive fire to do its best.
- Most holistic form of consuming vegetables is sabji/curry/sambar/avial etc. Vegetable soups can be a great option too. However, take care not to overcook!
In this way, we are not burdening our system, but rather helping it to digest that which it cannot otherwise! Ultimately, we are not what we ‘eat’, but we are what we ‘digest’! And this is the Ayurvedic Science of Salads!