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Diet and Seasons

 
Ayurveda recognizes the intimate relationship between the individual and the environment. The existence and well being of man and other living organism depend on the continuous interaction and adjustment between their internal and external environmental factors. 

The seasonal changes and climatic changes have an important effect on the health of the elements and it also has an impact on the balance of the doshas within the body. So, to adjust the body with the changing season Ayurveda has recommended a seasonal specific conduct. These activities help us to cope up with the changes in the environment.

When the organisms fail to adjust or adapt to the environment either due to innate deficiency or due to overwhelming antagonistic environmental factors, it results in disease or death. 
 

The environmental factors include 
  • Nature of land, 
  • Nature of water,
Various atmospheric phenomena like 
  • Temperature, 
  • Humidity, 
  • Wind, 
  • Rain 
  • Clouds, 
  • Atmospheric pressure etc. 
One remains comfortable in temperature between 60º f and 76º f and humidity range of 40-70%. In extremes of weather below / beyond these ranges, the body tries to maintain its internal temperature mainly by shivering when it is too cold and through perspiration when it is too hot. This is an example of adjustment between the body and its environment.

However the mechanism at adaptation and adjustment may fail in extreme temperature, one may be frozen to death or die due to sunstroke. 
  

Sharada (Autumn)
In Sharada rutu one should avoid heat of the sun, consumption of vasa (fat), oil, meat, sleeping during daytime, under the open sky and avoid the eastern winds. Sour, salty and pungent foods, should also be avoided, as they tend to increase pitta.

Pitta (fire in the body) accumulated in rainy season gets aggravated in autumn under the effect of intense sunrays and thus brings out the disorders of pitta.

In such conditions, the diet should consist of sweet, bitter, cold and light items that pacify pitta. Use of purgative and ghee processed with herbs of bitter taste is also advised.
  

The Importance of seasonal regime
The changing environmental factors in various seasons affect mind as well as the tissues, doshas and waste products. Health means a happy state of mind and balance state of tissues, doshas and waste products. It is important to follow the seasonal regime to prevent disease, maintain and promote positive health. 
 
Following the daily and seasonal regimes scrupulously does not mean following these regimes mechanically. One should try to understand the meaning and purpose underlying the technical details with the help of a learned physician. 
 
The daily and seasonal regimes should be modified according to the age, sex, region, physical strength, digestive power, constitution, mental health and the diseased state of person. If one follows the daily and seasonal regimes intelligently and religiously, one will surely enjoy a long, healthy, happy and useful life cycle full of vitality.
 
Season and Panchakarma
The environmental factors in various seasons result in the accumulation and increase of certain dosha or doshas and alleviate other doshas. The appropriate diet and the seasonal regime counteract the effects of the season on humans to a great extent. 
However, it is not possible to neutralize completely the adverse effects of environmental factors particularly in regions with extreme climatic conditions. In addition, as few follow the rules of the seasonal regime religiously, different doshas tend to accumulate and increase during different seasons. 

For the maintenance of health it is important to remove the excessive doshas from the body by Shodhana i.e. Panchakarma-the fives ways of purification of the body viz. emesis, purgation, enema, cleansing nasal medication and bloodletting (rakta mokasana).
 
Effects of Seasons on Land, Water, Animal and Plant Life
  • The taste dominant in food and water in a season usually tends to aggravate a particular dosha accumulating in the body in that season. The only exception is the dominant astringent taste in spring i.e. vasant which neutralises the increased Kapha. 
  • The dominant sweet taste in Hemant i.e. winter tends to increase Kapha. However this does not adversely affect the body since the strong digestive power in winter digests and assimilates excessive kapha and converts it into tissues.
  • The strength and digestive power are poor in summer. Hence one should restrict the quantity of food in this season. Cold food items should be taken to counteract the effect of the hot season.
  • In the monsoon all the three doshas are vitiated. Light diet is advised, as digestive power is weak and fluids in large quantity are advised.

 

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