Nutrition also called nourishment or ailment is the provision, to cells and organisms, of the materials necessary (in the form of food) to support life. Classification which means grouping has been the method adopted by scientists since ages in order to study relationships, similarities, differences and also to store the data systematically for future use. Ayurveda nutrition has a wide horizon ranging from classification based on the origin, common characteristics to the method of ingestion.
The foods are Classified according to various attributes in ancient dietetics as Panchabhautika, aahar kalpana, shadrasatamaka and viryatmaka. The three maestros of Ayurveda namely Charak, Sushrut, Vagbhata have represented food in the form of various groups. This classification is based on the morphological characteristics of the food items. Charakacharya in sutrasthana, Annapanvidhi adhyaya has classified edible articles in twelve groups.
There are eight factors which determine the utility of food- prakruti, karana, samyoga, rashi, desha, kala, upayogasamstha and upayokta. The importance of these dynamics is that even those people for whom all the six tastes have become homologous (pravara satmya) should consume food according to these eight factors.
Diet is used as therapeutic purpose not only because of the presence of nutrients but also contains chemical substances which act as antioxidants, detoxifying agents or blocking or suppressing agents or help in excreting toxic substances or maintain proper intestinal flora or to improve the immunity. In modern dietetics, there are five basic food groups which are Grains, vegetables, fruits, meat, fish and beans and milk. A healthy and balanced diet contains a variety of foods from within each food group, since each food offers different macronutrientsand micronutrients.
The two adjuncts to diet therapy, physical activity and stress coping mechanisms are essential for the prevention and cure of diseases.