As we get older, our constitution and digestive system changes. So naturally our dietary requirements shift as we go through life. Here’s what to eat and when according to Ayurveda…
First phase: childhood/ adolescence
These are the years when we’re building up our body in preparation for life. Our general constitution tends to be heavy and moist, and we’re prone to respiratory problems. Split peas and haricot beans contain essential amino acids that are the building blocks of our body. They are very easy to digest, enabling the body to detoxify from air/water/food pollutants efficiently. Sour, tangy foods like berries and green grapes are also good detoxifiers for this age group. An ideal meal would be kitcheree with ghee, coriander and grated coconut. Other goodies to give kids and teens are ginger, steamed veg, salads, apples, raisins, mango, roots like beetroots and carrots and yogurt.
Second phase: mid-life, 20s-50s
From puberty, our metabolism and hormones start to increase and our body creates much more heat, peaking about age 40. Because of the excess heat, we have a tendency towards inflammatory disorders during these years. Include plenty of sweet, bitter and sour tastes, favouring fresh, sweet fruit and veggies. Raw foods like salad, cucumber, watermelon, and fresh juices will help to cool the body. Grains, wheat, rice and milk are also ideal midlife foods. Add to the list a few more cooling foods: coconut, grapes, pineapple, apricot, cabbage, black olives, squash, white beans, sprouts and sweet potato. Try a lassi made with coriander and cumin to help cool your body, or lime water with cumin or ground coriander. As a cooling drink in the evening, try milk with raw sugar, rosewater and peeled almonds. Try to eat less pungent, sour and salty tastes like yogurt, cheese, tomatoes and vinegar if you have a tendency toward inflammation.
Third phase: 50 +
We are slowly getting colder and drier. Once our body temperature peaks at about 40, it begins a long slow decline. By about age 60, we have cooled off significantly. Constipation often becomes a problem now. Our digestion is more sluggish and digestive juices are secreted in lesser amounts. Well-cooked, easy-to-digest foods are the order of the day, as are anti-aging, rejuvenating foods. Rice cakes, oats, millet, corn bread and barley are good choices. Drink hot milky beverages to stay cosy and cook with warming spices such as garlic, ginger, cinnamon and cloves. Fruits like cranberry, apple, figs and dates are good choices. Avoid anything with too much fat content.
This content is adapted from KRI Level 2 LifeCycles And LifeStyles manual page 104
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