The History & Spread of The Ayurvedic Diet
Ayurveda is an ancient practice of alternative medicine native to India. The first mentions of Ayurveda are made in Indian medicinal literature written around 1700 BCE. The main goal of Ayurvedic medicine is to restore health and increase longevity through the establishment of balance. Thus, practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine see imbalance as the main cause of all physical and psychological ailments. In order to treat this imbalance, practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine turn mainly to plant-based medicines and treatments that are the building blocks of the Ayurvedic diet.
Of course, it is not surprising that this form of alternative medicine spread quickly throughout the ancient world and helped influence and advance the medicinal practices of many ancient civilizations. For example, a close look at ancient Chinese medicine reveals the heavy influence of Ayurvedic medicinal practices on this form of ancient medicine. The ancient Chinese philosophy regarding the Yin and Yan nature of foods is in direct correlation to the Ayurvedic diet’s emphasize on the medicinal balancing nature of certain foods. Furthermore, it’s hard not to correlate the Ayurvedic notions of Vata, Pitta and Kapha with the notions of spirit, water and blood which work together to balance the flow of Qi.
Though the intricacies of Ayurvedic medicine and ancient Chinese medicine are well known throughout the western world, the heavy influence of the Ayurvedic diet and medicine upon the cuisine and medicinal practices of the ancient Persian culture is still one that requires further exploration. Like the Chinese, the Persians drew heavily upon the Ayurvedic notion of balance when fashioning their cultural cuisine and medicinal views. However, unlike the ancient Chinese whose medicinal practices advanced in the direction of the Meridian theory of pressure points and flows of energy, the Ancient Persian’s medicinal practices advanced in the art of “Ishoku Dogen” which means, “Food is medicine and medicine is food”.
In keeping with the philosophy of “Ishoku Dogen” the Persian food culture evolved to treat food as a source of disease prevention. In keeping with the Ayurvedic principles, the ancient Persians developed an intricate system of combining foods based on the categorizations of “cold” and “hot”. And, as we’ve seen before, this system of food combination was designed to help maintain balance within the body and thus ward of various physical and mental ailments brought on by imbalance within the body’s natural flow of life source.
This ancient philosophy of combining foods based on their categorization of “hot” or “cold” is an integral part of Persian cuisine and culture and is still, currently being practiced. However, what sets the ancient Persian Ayurvedic diet apart from the Ayurvedic diet developed in India is the fact that the Persian Ayurvedic diet includes both white and red meats, as well as other animal products, into its categorization. This is not surprising, though, given the fact that the Persian diet is a semi-vegetarian diet, with close ties to the Mediterranean diet.
A Short History of Yogurt In Ancient Persia
Note: The “yogurt” referred to in this article is the all-natural Greek style yogurt, which is made with organic whole milk, and has no added sugars, flavors or preservatives. Homemade All Natural Yogurt Recipe
Yogurt is quiet possibly one of the oldest and healthiest foods known to mankind. In fact, some historians claim that cultured milk products existed as far back as 2000 BCE. A close look at the writings of the Indo-Iranians reveals the civilization’s reliance on yogurt as a staple food by 500 BCE. To this day, yogurt is the side dish to all Iranian meals, especially during the hot summer months, and the medicinal backbone of the Persian Ayurvedic diet.
According to the Persian Ayurvedic diet yogurt is a “cold” food. Both hot and cold yogurt soups, yogurt drinks and yogurt side dishes are served to those seeking longevity, a more youthful appearance, increased sexual potency, and relief from insomnia and gastrointestinal ailments.
A Persian Ayurvedic Yogurt Remedy
Iran’s Favorite Yogurt Drink & Natural Ayurvedic Home Remedy for Insomnia
In Iran it is customary to take a siesta after lunch. Of course, sodas, teas and other sugary, caffeinated drinks can disrupt this siesta. Therefore, a yogurt drink called Dugh is served at lunch and dinner. This is a delicious, light and refreshing drink designed to help alleviate digestive and gastrointestinal problems and aid in sleep. This yogurt drink has an uncanny ability to cure insomnia because of its high Tryptophan content.
Yogurt Drink Recipe
- 2 cups all natural Greek yogurt
- 2 tbs fresh mint (chopped finely)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups mineral water
- Beat yogurt slightly
- Pour yogurt, mint, salt and pepper into a pitcher and stir thoroughly
- Add the mineral water to the yogurt mixture, gradually. It is best to add 1/2 cup of mineral water at a time to the yogurt mixture and stir well
- Serve chilled
Recipe Serves: 4
Photo courtesy of: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wordridden/