According to Ayurveda, the ancient Indian preventive medicinal system, autumn is the season when Vata Dosha gets aggravated. Tailoring your daily diet as per these seasonal changes can therefore help you balance the Doshas and stay healthy. Here are the Ayurveda-based tips you need to stay fit during autumn.
Ayurveda, the ancient Indian medicinal system, is now popular the world over for providing a scientific basis for year-round nutrition. Given that season change is a time when most people tend to be more susceptible to infections and illnesses, Ayurveda’s recommendations for every season can help you and your loved ones stay safe and fit during autumn or fall seasons too. This matters even more since autumn season in India also coincides with the major festive season—a time when being healthy can indeed contribute to happiness.
For those unaware, Ayurveda focuses on the preventive aspect of medicine, especially based on the seasonal changes that the Indian subcontinent goes through. In that sense, Ritucharya or the regimens as per seasons, is an Ayurvedic concept that can help you stay fit and healthy during not only autumn season but all seasons of the year. According to a study published in the journal AYU: An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda in 2011, the Ayurvedic text Atreya Virachita Sara Sangraha divides the year into six prominent seasons:
1. Shishira (winter)
2. Vasanta (spring)
3. Grishma (summer)
4. Varsha (monsoon)
5. Sharat (early autumn)
6. Hemanta (late autumn)
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Understanding The Doshas For Autumn Season
Going by this division of seasons, Ayurveda has very specific regimens for Sharat and Hemanta seasons that coincide with what most people consider to be autumn in India. Ritucharya lays a lot of importance on Ahara and Vihara to pacify season-specific Doshas that impact your health during these season changes. While early autumn or Sharat season is governed by Pitta Dosha, late autumn or Hemanta season is governed by Vata Dosha. However, between mid-September to November, Vata is the predominant Dosha that affects most people.
Vata Dosha usually combines the elements of air and space, and the qualities that define this autumn season are cold, dry, light and quick-moving. Signs of the Dosha imbalance, even in those who are not usually susceptible to it, include anxiety, poor attention, insomnia, gas, bloating and dry skin. Ayurveda suggests that adding the qualities of Kapha (heavy and oily) and Pitta (warm and moist) through foods and beverages during autumn season can therefore help maintain Sattva or balance in the body, which in turn can help you stay healthy.
Ayurvedic Diet Tips For Autumn Season
Based on this understanding of the predominant Doshas that impact your health during autumn season, Ayurveda recommends a number of dietary and food tips to maintain optimal health during Sharat and Hemanta seasons. Here are some such tips you should know about.
1. Focus On The Rasas
Ayurvedic texts suggest that foods having Madhura (sweet), Tikta (bitter) and Laghu (easy to digest) Rasas are the best foods suited to autumn season. Foods with these Rasas can help pacify both Vata and Pitta Doshas during the autum season, while also controlling the Agni or fire generated in the body.
2. Eat Only When Hungry
The study published in AYU: An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda in 2011 suggests that the habit of eating food only when hungry should be promoted during autumn season. In the same vein, excessive eating and day-sleeping after food consumption should be avoided at all cost during autumn as these habits can cause gas and bloating.
3. Get Seasonal Fruits
Seasonal fruits that grow and are harvested in the autumn season should be added to your regular diet. This includes banana, apples, pears, pomegranate, tomatoes, oranges and grapefruits. The study above also recommends that cooked apples can help pacify the Doshas during this season.
4. Cook Vegetables Before Eating
Vegetables like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, gourd, yams, turnips, radishes and many leafy greens come into season during autumn months, and these should all be added to your diet. However, it is important to cook these vegetables before consumption and avoid eating raw vegetables in autumn as that can aggravate the Vata Dosha.
5. Add Healthy Grains
Autumn is the season when fresh harvests of many grains also become available. So, eating wheat, rice, millets and even oats is a good idea during this season. It is important to make sure that these grains are cooked thoroughly and do not include too much oil or fat, as this can make the grains heavier and more difficult to digest, thus aggravating both Vata and Pitta Doshas.
6. Warm Fluids And Spices Are A Must
During autumn, a time of fluctuating winds and season change, including warm and spiced foods to your diet can improve both digestion and immunity. Broths, soups and teas infused with ginger, lemongrass, mint, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves should be consumed warm or at room temperature. Avoid cold fluids during autumn months.
7. Source Healthy Fats
As a time of transition to winter season, autumn is a time when you should consume more healthy sources of fats. Whole nuts, seeds and dry fruits should be included in your diet along with sufficient amounts of ghee. However, don’t indulge in too heavy or rich nut butters and animal-based butters as these can increase gas, bloating and other digestive issues.
8. Pick The Right Proteins
The study mentioned above says that proteins sourced from animals on dry land, like chicken, eggs, duck, turkey and paneer should definitely be a part of your diet during autumn season. In addition, you can also eat lentils like moong dal if you are vegetarian, but beans should be avoided as they are considered to be Vata Dosha aggravators. Eating fish is not disallowed during this season, so consuming it is safe.