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The following is an excerpt from The Coherence Effect by Robert Keith Wallace, PhD, Jay Marcus, and Christopher S. Clark, MD
Many so-called food experts emphasize an ideal or “best” diet for everyone, with possible exceptions for those who are in the throes of some disease, where some foods (like acidic foods for those with ulcers) are known to aggravate the condition.
The Department of Agriculture and many health organizations and health professionals have dietary recommendations for all Americans, which do not distinguish among individuals. As an example of incomplete or incorrect knowledge, a popular magazine recently published an online article called “The Healthiest Foods on the Planet.” The article says one red potato has the same amount of cell-building folate as a cup of spinach or broccoli. The article also says one lemon gives you all the vitamin C for the day, which may help increase good cholesterol. It explains that a small amount of dark chocolate can reduce blood pressure and reduce bad cholesterol, and it says that salmon is a good source of fatty acids, potentially reducing depression, heart disease, and cancer, as well as a source of niacin to reduce Alzheimer’s and memory problems.
Is this good advice?
The main problem with the list is that it fails to take into account the makeup or body type of the person who will be eating these foods and any disorders he/she may have. Let’s suppose we have a person with a severe case of peptic ulcers or acid reflux. These are what in Ayurveda are typically considered Pitta disorders. When faced with these disorders the body needs foods that have an anti-inflammatory, or cooling, effect and are not acidic, in order not to aggravate the situation.
The principle at work is one of complementarity, which means that the antidote to a particular disorder has the opposite effect in the body as the characteristics of the disorder. This is logical and might be expected from a health system aiming to restore coherence.
In the case of, for example, acid reflux, Ayurveda would recommend that a person avoid lemons and chocolate, which, however, are on the ten healthiest list, and Western medicine would actually agree with avoiding these two items.
Ayurveda, however, understands the properties of every food and would also recommend that the person with inflammatory type disorders avoid seafood and most (not all) beans, which while said to be among the ten healthiest foods, are not healthy for those with inflammatory disorders.
The same is true for most of the other foods on the magazine’s healthiest foods list; they will be good for some, and not good for others, depending on the person’s disorders and his/her basic body type, which is referred to sometimes in Ayurveda as the person’s body constitution.
Western medicine is starting to recognize that it is important to eat the right foods when a disorder has already grown into gastrointestinal disease like acid reflux, but Ayurveda understands that it’s equally important to eat the right foods to prevent disorders for those body types likely to get the disorder.
It is also important to counteract our existing disorders in their earliest stages. If we don’t do this, our relatively minor disorders may grow into full blown disease.
One way Ayurveda does this is by knowledge of the individual’s body type, and knowledge of the foods that should be favored and avoided to aid the healing of particular disorders and to maintain coherence for each Ayurvedic body type.