Everyone's digestion is unique. Although Ayurvedic healers generally recommend cooking foods to enhance ease of digestion, if you find that your digestion is strong enough to handle a diet that contains lots of raw foods, and you have no signs of ama (dietary toxins), then incorporating raw foods into your diet is not a problem.
Here are some suggestions for eating raw foods under the umbrella of Ayurvedic dietary guidelines:
- Choose foods appropriate to your dosha and needs for balance. Those foods will give you the greatest benefit.
- Within the food choices suited to your dosha, opt for foods that are easier on the digestion: cucumber, lettuce, baby carrots, daikon radish and tender greens, for example.
- Chew foods well so that they mix with salivary secretions and the digestion process begins in the mouth.
- Eat moderate portions to avoid overtaxing the digestion.
- Chop or grate foods fine. Pureed raw soups and grated salads are easier on the digestion than big chunky vegetables.
- Soak nuts and seeds before you eat them. Soaking enhances digestibility of nuts and seeds.
- Use ripe, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. Unripe fruit and over-mature produce both tax the digestion more than foods eaten at the peak of their maturity.
- Go organic. Foods that are natural, with no pesticides or chemicals used in the growth process, are absorbed better and leave less toxins in the body.
- Garnish raw salads with a "hot" dressing -- spices sautéed in melted ghee and drizzled over the salad enhance digestion.
- Sip warm water or warm herb/spice teas through the day between meals to enhance digestion and cleanse the body of ama build-up.
- Eat more of your raw food for the day at lunch, when the digestive fire is at its peak. Avoid eating raw foods after sundown.
- Use-digestion enhancing herbs for flavor - cilantro, mint, thyme, basil and fresh ginger root all aid digestion.
- Drizzle cleansing lemon juice on your salads and raw soups.
- Use smaller beans for sprouting: mung beans and lentil sprouts are easier on the digestion than sprouted garbanzos, for example.
- Try and get all the tastes at each meal, even if it is a salad: carrots/beets for sweet, greens for bitter, cilantro for astringent, fresh ginger for pungent, lemon juice for sour and rock salt for salty.
Shreelata Suresh is a yoga instructor from the Bay Area, and she writes on yoga and Ayurveda for different publications. To subscribe to free newsletters on Ayurveda, or for more information, please visit http://www.ayurbalance.com.
Information provided in this article is for the sole purpose of imparting education on Ayurveda and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition, please consult your physician.