Acclimatising to these seasonal changes, particularly by adopting a season-appropriate diet, is considered to be the best way to avoid seasonal illnesses.
The ayurvedic system of medicine is not about curing diseases but preventing them from ever taking root in your mind and body. If you know this basic fact about Ayurveda then you should also be familiar with the two pillars on which the preventive aspect of ayurvedic medicine stands on: dincharya (daily regimen) and ritucharya (seasonal regimen). Let’s take a closer look at what ritucharya means.
Ritucharya: Beating season change at its game
According to a study published in AYU: An International Quarterly Journal of Research in Ayurveda in 2011, ritucharya literally refers to regimens or rules according to the seasons. Every season changes the environment we live in and these external changes can have a deep impact on our body’s internal system.
Acclimatising to these seasonal changes through appropriate behaviours, particularly by adopting a season-appropriate diet, is considered to be the best way to avoid seasonal illnesses. Following ritucharya basically provides the body with all the tools it needs to defeat season change and the diseases that come with it.
“Eating according to the seasons can give you a lot of health benefits, like feeling more energetic, boosting your immune system, and preventing multiple complications such as unwanted weight gain, indigestion, stomach infection, breathing difficulty and other health-related issues,” says Akanksha Mishra, a nutrition and wellness expert associated with myUpchar.
An article published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine in 2019 claims that the major lifestyle disorders that currently plague the world — including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, physical inactivity, weight gain, obesity and even some cancers — basically occur because of our deviation from this natural and seasonal lifestyle.
Consequently, the Indian Ayurveda experts who authored this article recommend the re-adoption of ritucharya to prevent weight gain and other diseases while boosting the immune and metabolic functions of the body all year round.
How to adopt ritucharya to be your healthy best
A 2011 study in AYU mentions that the ancient ayurvedic text, Atreya Virachita Sara, describes six seasons according to which you’re supposed to tailor your pathya-apathya or dietary intake. The following, as per the recommendations of the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences, are the dietary do’s and don’ts you must follow during each of these six seasons.
1. Hemant or early winter (mid-November to mid-January)
A nutrient-dense diet which includes satiating foods which taste sweet, sour and salty should be consumed in this season. Include seasonal whole grains and lentils, milk and dairy products, animal products and meats, honey, sugarcane, sesame and fermented products in your diet. Avoid overly spiced or aggravating foods, cold foods and drinks, and fasting or starvation during this season.
2. Shishir or late winter (mid-January to mid-March)
Sour-tasting foods should be predominantly consumed during this season. Cereals, grains, pulses like new rice, wheat flour, corn, peanut, sesame and jaggery as well as raw ginger, dry ginger, garlic, fruits, sugarcane, milk and dairy products should be eaten. Pungent, bitter, astringent tasting and warm foods which are light or cold should be avoided.
3. Vasant or spring (mid-March to mid-May)
Easily digestible foods and foods that improve digestion like barley, wheat, rice, lentils, bitters, honey, light meats, etc should be made a part of your diet during this season. Heavy foods which are sweet, sour or lead to daytime naps should be avoided.
4. Grishma or summer (mid-May to mid-July)
Easily digestible foods which are sweet, cold and liquid should be preferred during summer. Rice, lentils, plenty of water, buttermilk, fruits juices, meat soups, mango juice, curd, milk, etc should be taken. Salty, spicy, pungent, unctuous and sour foods should be avoided.
5. Varsha or monsoon (mid-July to mid-September)
Foods that taste sour, salty and unctuous should be taken, while heavy and hard to digest foods should be avoided. Include honey, barley, wheat, rice, meat of arid animals, light meat and vegetable soups, herbal tea and cold fluids in your diet.
6. Sharad or autumn (mid-September to mid-November)
Easily digestible foods which taste sweet, sour or bitter should be included in the diet. Wheat, rice, barley, amla, sugarcane, honey, green gram, light meats, etc are to be included in the diet, but fats, oils, curds and the meat of aquatic animals should be avoided.
For more information, read our article on Ayurveda.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.