Ayurveda on Grains
Grains and vegetables should form the basis of a healthy diet. Grains are a very balancing food for all constitutions in proper amount. The Kapha type should make sure not to overeat them but Vatas and Pittas are OK with bigger portions of grains.
Different grains have different nutritional value. Here is a list starting with the most strengthening ones: wheat, brown rice, oats, couscous, amaranth, quinoa, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, basmati rice, rye, and granola. Wheat and brown rice are the most tissue building and strengthening grains, which make them the best food for Vata, and aggravating for Kapha when eaten in excess. Rye or barley, on the other hand, have a diuretic action and are better suited for the Kapha type because they help to remove excess water from the body. Pitta, has the strongest digestive power and can enjoy all unrefined grains.
Not all grains are created equal though. Commonly available breads and cereals contain refined flour – nutritive portions are removed during the refining process. White flour is dead from the processing procedures – such as grinding, selective sifting and bleaching – but is very profitable for large food companies because it lasts a very long time on the supermarket shelves. The process of “enriching” with vitamins or fiber doesn’t make flour or other food whole. It simply isn’t possible to acquire the full nutritional benefits of any substance once it has been removed from its natural context and turned into a supplement.
Animal proteins eaten with refined grains make a poor combination and are responsible for many diseases, since refined grains don’t provide enough fiber to keep the colon clear and functioning normally. The refined grains coat the intestinal walls with glue – like substance that prevents correct absorption. When meat or another high fat animal product is ingested, it creates a perfect environment for the breeding of disease.
If you are vegetarian, it is imperative that you eat WHOLE grains, since refined grains have very little nutritional value and can eventually lead to some form of malnutrition.
Grains can be added to the diet in the form of breads or pasta. Look for fresh whole grain bread and pasta. Frozen and canned foods don’t have prana (life force) and are heavy to digest. Bread in plastic bags, that lasts much longer than fresh baked bread would, must have been treated with chemicals to stay fresh that long. In addition to that, all long term lasting bread contains the spores of mold.
In general, whole grains are mild in action and provide sattvic energy for your body and mind (see The Three Gunas).
TODAY’S TIP: Some people are allergic to certain grains – especially wheat. Switching from refined to unrefined grains increases enzyme function in the intestine and can eventually help get rid of allergies.