The human being is the only animal that stumbles twice on the same stone and infinite times with the traditional medicine. No matter how much we say alternative therapies, whatever culture they are, they are riddled with pseudosciences. Many people still find them something interesting to add to their lifestyle. It is the case of the traditional indian medicine, better known as ayurveda, which considers that health and disease result from the different combinations of three aspects of existence, baptized as doshas.
Fortunately, fewer and fewer people follow this discipline when it comes to treating illnesses. However, it is still very fashionable in the field of nutrition. Relates to spirituality and conscious lifestyle, marked by other practices, such as yoga or meditation. Logically, this does not mean that all yoga practitioners do it, nor that this is a pseudoscience. As a method of stretching the muscles, or even as relaxation is fine, the problem comes when you want to give it healing qualities.
But, putting this aside and returning to the subject of nutrition, follow the branch of ayurveda dedicated to this topic it can carry several dangers. In fact, already in 2019, the College of Dietitians-Nutritionists of Catalonia contacted the newspaper La Vanguardia, to make several corrections to the statements of nutritionist Carla Zaplana in a previous interview for that same medium. Several of these misstatements were based precisely on the fact that they were strongly linked to Ayurvedic nutrition. But what does it say exactly?
Ayurveda nutrition, the individuality that is not individual
Ayurveda nutrition presumes to guide personalized diets for each person, according to what the doshas that predominate in it: Vata, Pitta or Kapha.
Supposedly the first, which represents air and ether, encompasses people with a great capacity to adapt to changes. The second, associated with fire and water, is the one that contains the most intense personalities. And finally the Kapha, related to water and earth, represents relaxation and stability.
Ayurveda philosophy states that we all have a little bit of each, but that each person has more represented one or, at most, a mixture of two of them. In the case of nutrition, diets are personalized based on the combination of these qualities. And this is where the problem begins. Sure it’s good customize diets. But based on physical activity, the goals we want to achieve and, of course, possible intolerances or diseases. Not whether we are more stable or adapt well to changes.
Ayurveda nutrition doesn’t just set diets based on irrelevant factors. Also advises against or even totally eliminates really healthy foods.
For example, each dosha has recommended and discouraged vegetables and fruits. The latter, for Vata are apples, banana, pomegranate and watermelon. Nuts are not recommended as long as they have been soaked overnight. So that? They do not clarify it. For Pitta it should be avoided lemon, papaya, mango and some nuts. And for Kapha bananas, dates and oranges. They insist a lot with the consumption of the most natural and least processed foods possible, but a Kapha could not be a realfooder, because the habit of sweetening everything with dates would be lost.
Some are also discouraged for each type dairy products totally healthy, vegetables or legumes.
The madness of eliminating water during meals
Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash
Another curious fact that shows that Ayurveda nutrition does not have any scientific evidence is that drinking water is discouraged during meals. The reason? That supposedly “extinguishes the fire of digestion.”
Drinking water during meals supposedly puts out the fire of digestion
It is also important to them eat in silence. It is true that eating as relaxed as possible is important, especially chewing without haste. This way we will be better satisfied and avoid certain digestive problems. Besides the choking, of course. But eating calmly does not mean eating quietly. In fact, relaxed talk over meals can be very beneficial on many levels.
In short, Ayurveda nutrition is like a bag in which a lot of balls of many colors are put. If the red ones have a prize, when we put in our hand we may draw one of that color and think it is a good bag. But if we keep looking we will see that there are many others that have not been awarded.
Something similar happens with this type of diet. If we look at how they recommend the consumption of certain vegetables and healthy foods, we may think that it is a good option. But if we continue investigating it we will find a large number of nonsensical advice. A nutritionist, at least one who is a good professional, would never recommend basing what we eat on our personality. Therefore, if we want to learn to eat better, only they can help us. The ancient traditions will be better left to the legends.