Energy in Ayurveda (Prana)
In addition to certain qualities and a taste, food also provides a certain amount of energy. This energy is independent from the taste. For instance, food that tastes sweet, bitter or astringent en hence has a cooling effect can still have a hot energy. An example of this is dill. Dill seeds are sweet and astringent, but they have a heating energy. Coconut, peppermint and rose petals are all cooling. Heating spices are ginger, pepper and mustard seed.
What is good to know is that you can adjust the energy of food through its preparation and herbs and spices. This is important if you want to bring your body back into balance. For example, if your digestive system works too slowly, it is good to eat hot food. Hot food, such as a spicy soup, digests quickly. When you have eaten something like this, you will notice that you are hungry again faster, and you will probably also have increased bowel movements. If your digestive system works too fast, on the other hand, it is good to eat something cooling, such as a piece of cake or a bowl of plain cooked rice. You will notice that you will feel full for longer and that your bowel movements will be slower, oilier or even completely dry. In conclusion, you can adjust the energy of heating or cooling foods. It is possible that even with a slow digestion you want to eat food with a cold energy, such as a raw apple. If you eat it without adding anything or processing it, it will cool your digestion. The adjustment of the energy of food is also the main reason why in Ayurveda a lot of herbs and spices are used.
When classifying food, not only its qualities, taste and energy are taken into account, but also the way in which it works. For instance, there are certain foods which are good for the blood, others which are good for the skin, the longs, etc.
In Ayurveda we generally opt for pure food; this is also the reason why we eat no meat. We also look at where the food comes from. Respect for nature and the environment also means respect for the circumstances and intentions with which vegetables are grown. And this is continued in the respect with which food is prepared. The intention with which you cook colours the energy of the food. Food needs to be prepared with love and attention, with positive feelings towards the people who will be eating your meal.
Source: The Ayurveda cookbook from Lies Ameeuw
Ayurveda Kookboek (Ayurveda cookbook) and Ayurveda vanuit het hart (Ayurveda from the heart) by Lies Ameeuw. Available online at www.lies-ameeuw.be