Food: 20 Properties

Generally, when the quality of a food is similar to the quality of a Dosha, that will result in the increase in the activity of that particular dosha. Remember that the doshas are physiological forces that manifest in the body through their actions. In the same way, if the attributes of a food are opposite to the quality of a dosha, then it will reduce the activity of that particular Dosha.

So a food that is beneficial for one person may be harmful for another person – it all depends on your dosha, and how in balance you are at the time.
So you can see how it applies that a Suitable food is responsible for nourishing a human body, and an unsuitable food only nourishes the disease causing factors in the body and ultimately the disease itself.

It is very important to know which foods are most likely to your dosha and your body, and which foods are not. To determine this we have to go through certain basic Ayurvedic Principles. This helps us to choose the best foods for our unique individual bodies.
Here we will go deeper to understand the Ayurvedic principles according food.

The 20 Properties or Attributes:
Every food item contains some proportion of the Five basic elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water & Earth), with one or more of the elements being dominant. In turn, the three Doshas and seven tissue systems also have different proportions of the five basic elements with a dominance of certain elements in each. So, according to the Ayurvedic Principle of ‘like increases and dislike decreases’, foods having the properties as a particular Dosha and/ or tissue systems increase those properties. And when foods have opposite properties then it results in a decrease of those properties. These ‘properties’ (or Gunas in Sanskrit) are 20 in number and are distributed amongst the five basic elements. Just as the doshas, tissue systems, food, and medicines are composed of these five elements in different ratios, these 20 properties are manifested in them as well.

These 20 properties are classified in opposing pairs of 10 and are listed as:
1) Heavy- Light
2) Cold- Hot
3) Unctuous– Dry
4) Slow- Sharp
5) Stable- Mobile
6) Soft- Hard
7) Slimy- Rough
8) Viscous – Liquid
9) Gross- Subtle
10) Cloudy- Clear

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