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Ayurvedic food is the need of the hour
Friday, 22 January, 2021, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Prabodh S Halde, V N Pawar, U Annapure & S Deotale
The fundamental significance of food, food and breath, food and mind, importance of offering of food as well as the relationship between food and panchmahabhutas was very well explained in the sub sections of Bhrigu Valli. Sikhshavalli, Brahmandavalli and Bhriguvalli are the three major chapters of the Taittiriya Upanishad belongs to the Taittiriya school of the Yajurveda. 

India from its ancient era is known for its traditional medicinal systems namely Ayurveda, Siddha, and Unani (Subhose, Srinivas, and Narayana, 2005). Around 1000 BC, the knowledge of Ayurveda was holistically documented in Charak Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. According to Ayurveda, health is considered a prerequisite for achieving the goals of life, dharmas, artha and spiritual and social aspects of human beings, each effect on the others (Sawhney and Versha, 2018). The precise meaning of Ayurveda is “science of life,” because life here does not refer an individual’s life but to the life of the entire universe in which the individual is part of it. Ayurveda has emphasis the individual to understand their body, mind and soul. On the other hand it is termed as the science of longevity because it offers a complete system to live a long healthy life. 

The principles of Ayurveda are based on Panchmahabhutas (five element theory). The combination of five elements is signified in the form of Tridosha eg. Vata (Earth + Air), Pitta (Fire) and Kapha (Water + Earth). These three Doshas are physiological entities in living human beings (Dua & Dua, 2011).  Ayurveda offers programs to rejuvenate the body through diet and nutrition it also offers the treatment method to various diseases

Ayurveda has given three sub pillars- Ahara, Nidra and Brahmacharya are recognized as the three Upasthambhas (sub pillars) which are vital for the running of healthy and secure life. Among them, Ahara is deliberated as one of the best sustainer of life (Vrittikaranam Sreshtam). A well-balanced diet in Ayurveda is planned based on the Panchabhautic composition and Tridoshic impacts in the living physique. Food (Ahara) and lifestyle (Vihara) considerably affect individual’s overall health and upsurge the metabolic and progressive diseases due to adaptation of modern life style (Hankey, 2005; Wagh & Bhalerao, 2020).  

Ayurveda and modern nutrition
Ayurveda, a traditional system of medicine that evolved over 10,000 years ago in India, which deals with the extensive insights about food and nutrition. Health is defined as a state of equilibrium with individual’s health (svasthya) but which is intimately associated to the environment. Ayurveda declares food and drugs are interconnecting perceptions that are vital for human survival and for the prevention and mitigation of diseases. The theory of tridosha provides the link between the microcosm and the macrocosm that can be useful in everyday practice. Traditional Ayurveda editions covers a collection of different themes on food ranging from variety of natural sources along with their properties based upon seasons and places. Also, it covers the entire range of physiochemical, metabolic and pathological properties of the ayurvedic ingredients.  The epistemic perception on health and nutrition in Ayurveda is quite different from that of biomedicine and modern nutrition thus it should be deliberate deprived of specs of modern medicine (Hankey, 2005).

Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and Ayurveda
A Novel Coronavirus known as 2019-nCoV was emerged in Wuhan, China, at the end of 2019. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the novel Corona Virus (COVID19) as a worldwide pandemic. The whole world is facing this pandemic and till date there is no specific medicine existing to prevent the mitigate Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Corona Virus 2 (SARS-CoV)

In India, quite a lot of initiatives had been taken to apply the enormous potential of Ayurveda in this pandemic. The Ministry of Ayush, a nodal Ministry of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, had also released a set of recommendations for boosting immunity and measures for self-care by using Ayurvedic principles (AYUSH, 2020). 

During this situation, various government ayurvedic bodies like AYUSH recommended the use of ayurvedic herbs, spices and medicinal plant for treating the respiratory tract infections. Recently Patanjali Research Institute also kept a proposal regarding the Indian traditional Ayurvedic Treatment Regime for Novel Coronavirus, COVID-19 which covers the importance and pharmacological perspectives of Ashwagandha, Giloy, Tulsi, Piper nigrum, Piper longum, etc. (Balkrishna, n.d.). Further, the Indian Prime Minister in its address to nation also stated about using Ayurveda medicines for improving immunity against COVID-19. This has led to surge in huge demand of Ayurvedic medicines. AYUSH system across the country has also been put on alert for being called anytime to serve the nation. The decoction (Kadha) from a mixture of spices and herbs is considered to be one of the oldest forms of medicine invented by humans. Kadha is prepared from dry or less juicy constituents such as spices and herbs. Also, it has been observed that many multinational companies comes with an innovative ready to drink “ayurvedic Kadha” composed of medicinal herbs and plant to treat the respiratory tract disorders and to boost immunity against novel Corona Virus. At household level the percentage of consuming such ayurvedic Kadha on regular basis has been increased during this pandemic (Maurya and Sharma, 2020). 

The discipline of Ayurveda must be passed on from generations, as Ayurveda has never for a moment lost its originality which is often the case, with the passage of time. The primary goal of Ayurveda is to improve a person's quality of life. Through the practice of Ayurveda, a person’s ability to live a long and healthy life should increase. It focuses on improving your quality of life overall. In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, entire mankind across the globe is suffering. Improving the body’s natural resistance system (immunity) plays a key role in maintaining the optimum human health. We all know that prevention is better than cure. While there is no medicine available for COVID-19 as of now, therefore it will be upright to take precautionary measures which boost our immunity system in such difficult situations. Ayurveda, being the science of life, propagates the gifts of nature in maintaining healthy and happy living.  Thus interest in Ayurveda has increased many fold all across the world.

Food Science & Nutrition
Food science is the basic science and applied science of food; its scope starts at overlap with agricultural science and nutrition and leads through the scientific aspects of food safety and food processing, informing the development of food technology. The Institute of Food Technologists defines food science as "the discipline in which the engineering, biological, and physical sciences are used to study the nature of foods, the causes of deterioration, the principles underlying food processing, and the development of foods for the consuming public". The textbook Food Science defines food science in simpler words as "the application of basic sciences and engineering to study the physical, chemical, and biochemical nature of foods and the principles of food processing" (Potter & Hotchkiss, 1995).

Activities of food technologists include the application of scientific as well as socio-economic knowledge for the development of new food products, design of processes to produce these foods, choice of packaging materials, shelf-life studies, and sensory evaluation of products with the help of panel member or potential consumers, as well as microbiological and chemical testing. Food scientists may study more fundamental phenomena that are directly linked to the production of food products and its properties. They used to study the composition of produced food and science behind its biological, physical and engineering aspect. Food science brings together multiple scientific disciplines. It incorporates concepts from fields such as chemistry, Nutrition physics, physiology, microbiology, biochemistry etc. Food preservation and processing is also another term which is widely used by humans from thousands of years. It includes processing aids such as fermentation, dehydration, pickling, drying, salting for preserving the food stuff for longer duration of time. Whereas in modern era of industrialization these techniques modified and upgraded to new processing methods such as canning and freezing for controlling the microbial spoilage and enzymatic interaction within food material. However this technology helps in retention of the sensory as well as nutritional attributes, thus novel and advanced food processing technologies are at high demand to produce the health and ecofriendly food stuffs. 

Emerging new techniques of preservations are found to be promising than conventional thermal techniques of processing (Buckow & Bull, 2013). 

Following are the Advance food processing technologies which are being used in Nutraceutical and Functional food product making and it can be used in Ayurvedic food processing.
Ultraviolet in Food Preservation and Processing 
Cold plasma processing
Application of Microwave Technology 
IR- Irradiation 
Application of Radio wave Frequency  
Application of Ultrasonic 
Membrane Processing 
Nanoparticles and Nanotechnology in Food 
High Pressure Processing
Ozone Processing 
Application of Pulsed Electric Fields in Food 
Ohmic Heating 

Preservation and shelf life extension of the food product is the motive of any food processing techniques, which includes thermal processing methods like pasteurisation and sterilisation and non-thermal processing methods like cold plasma and ozone. In non-thermal methods, high-pressure processing is an alternate method, wherein the food is subjected to a very high-pressure range from 100 -800 MPa. HPP is found to be the most promising technique in preserving the food products in various sectors like the dairy industry, meat industry, fruits and vegetable processing, seafood as well as egg-based industries. 

The need of ayurvedic Food
Ayurvedic Food is called ‘mahabhaisajya’ which means ‘the superior medicine. As per the Ayurvedic viewpoint everything in this cosmos is made up of five main constituents, and those five basic elements of nature i.e. the Panch Mahabhutas are the essential components of our food.  These are Akash (space), Vayu (air), Teja (fire), Jala (water) and Prithvi (earth). In fact, combination of these five elements within each other forms the three important humors of Tridoshas such as Vatta, Pitta and Kapha. To maintain the balance among these doshas, Agni plays an important role in the body for good functioning. And it also helps in maintaining and preserving the Prana, Oja, Aayu, Bala, Varna, Utsaha, Upachaya, Prabha to keep healthy body (Vani & Prasad, 2013). 

Based upon the beneficial and aggravating effects of tridoshas, it can be classified in three types such as sattvic, Rajsic and Tamasic foods. An ideal vegetarian diet consisting of fruits and vegetable, non-oily, non-spicy food comes under sattvik food which is beneficial as well as suitable for the mind health. Whereas too spicy, hot, sour as well as salty food comes under Rajasik food that stimulates the mind physical health. However too oily, tasteless, stale and heavy food termed as Tamasic food, generally meat and non-vegetarian food that are not easy to digest leading to the lethargic or dull effect to the body as well as mind (Wagh and Bhalerao, 2020).

According to the Ayurveda, change of weather conditions or seasons like summer, autumn and winter affects the diet and health of human being. Hence, there are some recommendation are mentioned in the Ayurveda regarding diet consumed in different season. During summer at high temperature, Pitta dosha usually predominates. Hence it is recommended that not to consume hot, spicy foods during summer days so that pitta dosha should not get aggravate. While during autumn vatta dosha used to exist in atmosphere due to the high velocity of dry air, therefore it has been recommended that dry fruits, high protein foods and diet which is responsible for aggravating vatta dosha should be avoided. Likewise, winter season used to bring kapha dosha, in this season most of the people used to get affected by cold, cough and respiratory disorders. During this season frozen foods such as ice cream, cheese, cold drinks and yoghurt should be avoided since it increases the kapha dosha (Sawhney and Versha, 2018).

Also, there are some recommended classical ways of eating food as mentioned in the Ayurveda such as food should be taken at right time, as per the suitability based upon individual’s Prakruti. It should be pure, healthy and hygienic, less oily, warm, easy to digest and should possess all six rasas. 

Generally food should be consume alone with full concentration, after taking bath, after prayers, after your guest’s or elder people food, after your offerings to God, birds or animals. And at the last food should be taken when you feel hungry, without disgracing the food. Also, every food is not suitable for intake. All unhygienic, unhealthy and unpleasant food should be discarded. Eating unholy food is also one of the cause of disease.

Future challenges and outcome regarding the ayurvedic food

India is amongst the largest producers of food in the world – the largest producer of milk and second largest producer of fruits and vegetables. Yet critics will point to the fact that though agriculture employs ~ 58 per cent of the working population, it accounts for only ~ 14 per cent of the GDP. The Agri-economy has been growing at ~ 4 per cent leaving substantial room for further growth. Food Processing can fuel the growth of overall Agri-economy. We can say Food processing is engine for agriculture industry. More importantly, there is even greater scope for growth in the overall agribusiness. We define agribusiness as comprising the set of businesses closely linked with agricultural production – including Agri-inputs, trade and logistics, and food processing. Food processing is the largest contributor to agribusiness and can be the fulcrum in transforming the overall Agri sector.

Since Agriculture is also changing and transforming with newer addition of herbs and ayurvedic medicine cultivation, it is imperative to continue this trend for value addition. If Food processing advancement gets added in traditional ayurvedic processing, over all agriculture sector will grow holistically and India can become big Export hub for many high value extracts and Ayurvedic foods and medicines.

Currently we have over 300 colleges for food and Nutrition technology and may be equal number of colleges for Ayurvedic medicine studies. Both the sectors are growing, and we have seen in last 10 years number of colleges have gone 4 times due to rising in demand in the sector. 

We recommend every food technology college should have Ayurvedic Science department and Every Ayurvedic College should have Food Technology department. Students should study basics of both the sciences during graduation level and for master level, specialization of ayurvedic food should be available to grow further research in the area.

It has been noted that the major changes towards globalisation and modern trends leads to the variety of lifestyle diseases and many of us moved towards the recent era of modernisation. But during this pandemic, recent terms like nutrition, health, Ayurveda, personalised nutrition, immunity boosters as well as good hygienic practices approached in large extent towards fighting novel corona virus. Today, there is need to change the eating style, addition of nutraceuticals and bioactives through the traditional medicines. Several scientific clinical and experimental studies have been conducted on validation of principles of Ayurveda dietetics and also for development of Ayurveda based nutritional supplements. Several research papers have been published substantiating the potential of Ayurvedic interventions in malnutrition and improving physical endurance and health promotion in children and adults. The holistic approach is the “strength” of Ayurveda. Ayurveda, herbal medicines, Ayuceuticals, Nutraceuticals and modern nutrition based upon traditional diet are the emerging trends for increase the demand as well as approach toward Ayurvedic product. In Ayurveda, many holistic and scientific approaches have been described about planning of the diet. The fundamental principles like Tridosha, Prakriti, the tastes, processing of food, the quality, quantity, and the rules regarding eating food if considered while incorporating the diet, one can keep away from many diseases of body and mind. As it is said in Vaidyajeevanam that, there is no need of medication if the person is in proper diet. Trans-disciplinary research (Agri-Ayurveda-Food / Nutrition) could be important not only for pushing the boundaries of food and health sciences but also for providing practical solutions for contemporary health conditions. 

This will also help Indian Farmers to increase their income by bringing many Ayurvedic herbs under normal cultivation and value addition through Food technology way. India should learn from Pandemic and rule the world by utilising and enhancing our own potential of Ayurvedic system with support of modern food technology and Nutritional science without diluting its own principles.

(Prabodh S Halde belonging to MIT College of Food Technology, Loni-Kalbhor, Pune, Ex President AFST (I). V N Pawar is ADP, MIT College of Food Technology, Loni-Kalbhor, Pune.
 U Annapure is director Institute of Chemical Technology, Jalna Campus.
 S Deotale is PHD Scholar Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology, Thanjavur. They can be reached at
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