Arogya Jeewan

Arogya Jeewan

Influence of food over emotion and mind

Ayurvedic principles state a strong connection between food and the human mind. The mind is directly influenced by the quality, method of preparation, appearance, freshness and aroma of food. Ayurveda advocates that the quality of food influences mental agility and vigour and even emotion.

In order to understand the inter-relationship between food and mind, it is important to understand the three gunas (qualities) of human beings – Sattva, Rajas and Tamas. Sattva is associated with goodness, positivity, selflessness, purity etc. Rajas is associated with all qualities that determine our actions and movement (thinking, working, making decisions), energy, anger, passion, aggression etc. Tamas is associated with all that hinders mental progress, motion and action like sleeping, sitting aimlessly, harbouring negative feelings like greed, jealousy etc. [i],[ii]

Ayurveda has classified the food groups also based on the gunas as Satvik, Rajasic and Tamasic foods. [iii],[iv],[v]

  1. Satvic Foods

These foods are fresh, fragrant, and seasonal and help the mind to function at its maximum potential. These foods include- whole grains, millets, fresh fruits and vegetables, milk and milk products preferably made from cow’s milk, nuts and honey. These foods are mild and should be neither over nor undercooked.

Satvic foods are believed to increase the life force or prana, strength and immunity. They bring positivity, happiness and cheer. They keep us alert but calm, provide nourishment but do not affect the overall energy state. They provide precise balance and harmony in the mind and the body.

  1. Rajasic Foods

As the name suggests, it is the food that is meant for the Rajas (kings). These foods are spicy, tangy, dry, salty and served hot. Tea, coffee, pepper, tobacco, non-vegetarian foods and green chillies are considered Rajasic in nature. These foods may be fried and overcooked to increase the taste, which in turn stimulates the nervous system and perks up metabolism.

Rajasic foods may disturb the mind body equilibrium as the mind becomes restless, uncontrollable and strives to fulfil passions and desire. They usually stimulate sensual pleasure and physical activity. Such a diet produces brilliant energies but in the long run may lead to pain, grief and disease.

  1. Tamasic Foods 

These foods are believed to be spoiled/ rotten foods, left over foods or foods kept overnight, and had next day, food which contains artificial additives, preserved, and processed, canned, refrigerated, fermented, stale, cold foods are considered tamasic. Common foods include alcohol, tobacco, onions, garlic and fermented food such as vinegar.

These foods do not nourish the body or mind and may add mass to the body. These foods lead to accumulation of toxins that may cause chronic diseases like obesity, arthritis, heart disease etc. They make a person lazy, dull, sluggish, drowsy, sick and fill the mind with negative emotions like anger and greed.

Ayurveda propagates we are what we eat. Diet can influence the mind which in turn reflects in our personality. A strong mind can digest the most Tamasic food and still live very healthily. However, we must aim to have a wholesome Satvik diet and practice Yoga to achieve mental control to lead a healthy and positive life.


  1. Dr. Ravindra.S, Concept Of Nutritional Diet In Ayurveda, 2013, International journal of Ayurvedic & Herbal medicine 3(2), (1150-1158)
  2. Charak Samhita of Agnivesha. Vidhyotini Hindi Vyakhya- Sastry K & Chaturvedi G – Editors. Chaukhambha Bharati Academy, Varanasi 221001. Reprint 2011.
  3. Dr.Yadav A et al, Medical Application of Yoga
  4. Agte.V et al, Linkage concepts of good nutrition in Yoga and Modern Science, 2007, Current Science, Vol.92, no. 7
  5. Brahmodaya, 2007, World Brahmana Convention, USA.