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Digestive Health

Day Food Vs Night Food – Impact On Health As Per Ayurveda

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Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Food is the most essential need and basic instinct of mankind, most needed for sustenance of life and for balanced body-mind health, needed to carry out our day-to-day activities with ease and for leading a disease free, happy life. Ahara or food is termed as Upastambha or support pillar for life and health in Ayurvedic treatises. Along with Nidra (balanced sleep) and Brahmacharya (celibacy), Ahara forms an important balance-tripod of life, the three upa stambhas or supporting pillars of life. 

Food should be consumed at the point where we feel hungry and want of energy to carry on our daily activities, immaterial of time, but it is sensible enough to have good quantity and quality of food at least twice in a day, i.e. morning and night (according to one’s capacity).
Read related: What Is The Right Time For Food? How Many Meals A Day? – Ayurveda

The food taken in the morning time will have an impact on the food which we consume at night / evening. Similarly the food consumed at night will have its effect on the food which we eat the next morning. Before consuming each meal we need to watch out if the previously taken food has been digested or not. We should only consume food when the previously taken food has been properly digested.

In this article we will see the effect of morning food and evening food over each other and also their impact on overall health.

Effect of food taken during day time over the food consumed at evening
Generally one should not consume the food when the previously taken food has not been digested.

In spite of the food consumed during the morning time not being digested, the food consumed during evening doesn’t cause any harm.

Just like the lotus flower blooms with the appearance of Sun, the Hridaya (heart) also blooms in the day time. Since the heart stays bloomed during the day time, all the srotases (channels of the body) also will remain opened up such that the essential elements and nutrition keeps flowing in them easily.

Also in the day time we are indulged in physical activities (vyayama) and other daily activities. The mind also will be constantly engaged in various activities and thought processes all through the day. Due to the effect of all these physical and mental activities, the channels of the body will remain open and active. Due to this, the food consumed in the day time will not produce kleda (moistness) in the tissues. As a result the tissues will be in a state of dryness. Since the tissues are not moistened by the food taken in the morning, the food taken during evening (night) also will not be able to produce moistness in the tissues.
Read related: Night food is very important. Watch what you eat at night

If the morning food were to produce moistness, it would add to the moistness or kleda produced by the evening consumed food. In totality, the cells would suffer from excessive kleda or undesired proportions of liquidity or moistness, which is a source for fermentation and depression of cell functions. The tissues in particular and organs as a whole would fail to do the needed activities in a proper and balanced way if this addition of kledas take place in the cell as a practice or over a period of time.

In this condition since the morning food doesn’t cause kleda due to indulgence of a person in the routines of physical and mental activities (in an active person), the cells do not carry kleda towards evening. The combination of both foods (essences of food) in the tissues thus will not produce any harm.

Example, when a small amount of raw milk is added to raw milk, the raw milk is not destroyed or contaminated. Just like that in spite of the food taken in the morning being undigested, the food taken during the night doesn’t produce any harm.

Effect of food taken during night time over the food consumed on next day morning
On the contrary, the heart will be at a state of rest / fatigue (mlana) during night time, i.e. it will not be as active as it is during the day time.

As a result the srotases or channels of the body also will be closed (not as much open and active as they are during day time). As a result the food taken during night time will cause excessive kleda or moistness in the tissues and channels. Since the channels will be closed during the night time, the tissues in them are in a state of inactivity and also will not have mobility. The food taken during night time will not get totally digested and undergo fermentation leading to production of more moistness. This will make the tissues moist during the night time.

In this condition if the food is consumed at morning (next) in spite of the food taken in the previous night not being digested, it causes contamination of the tissues, just like a small amount of raw milk added to the hot (processed) milk destroys the milk.

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In this context, the food taken in the morning will be shuddha (clear) while the food taken during the night is ashuddha (unclear due to improper digestion). When these two shuddha ahara and ashuddha ahara get mixed up in the tissues, the resultant ahara rasa will get contaminated. This contaminated food will cause excessive moistness of tissues, blocks the channels, and depletes the circulation of nutrients and essential things in the body and lead to many diseases.

Thus, a person who is desirous of good strength and wants to live long by conserving and guarding his life span should never consume food during the day time when the food taken during the night is not yet digested. For this he needs to wait for the jeerna ahara lakshanas (symptoms or features of proper digestion of food).

Quick reference of Jeerna Ahara Lakshanas

Below mentioned are the signs (features) of proper digestion.

  • Udgara Shuddhi – clean belching or eructation
  • Utsaha – presence of enthusiasm
  • Vega Utsarga – timely and proper evacuation of natural urges of the body like those of stools, urine, fart etc
  • Laghuta – lightness of the body
  • Kshut – feeling hungry
  • Pipasa – feeling thirsty

Kaala bhojanam Arogya karanaanaam – Charaka su. 25/40
Charaka tells that ‘Kala Bhojana or timely intake of food is the best among those which promote good health’. Thus he has given highest importance for intake of food at proper time for maintenance of positive health.
Read related: Food – Definition, Importance As Per Ayurveda, Upanishad

Just Before Finishing
|We need to keep a close check on what exactly is happening to the food we consume on daily basis. It is important to eat food at proper time and in right quantity. At the same time it is important to wait for the previously taken food to get digested completely before planning or consuming the next serving of food. In this article, I have covered about the effect of food consumed at morning and food consumed at evening over each other, the knowledge of which is very essential for those desirous of good metabolism, gut health and overall comprehensive body-mind health!
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Email / Skype

I take a cup of hot milk before bed. Can this be equivalent to taking a cup of hot water?
Dr JV Hebbar

Taking hot milk or hot water at night, both have their own different benefits. 

Hot water has following benefits – 
Deepana – stimulates hunger,
Pachana – helps digestion,
Kantya – good for the throat,
Laghu – easily to digest,
Basti shodhana – cleanses the urinary bladder,
Hidhma – relives hiccup,
Adhmana –  flatulence,
Anila – bloating, gas formation, aggravation of Vata
Shleshma – aggravation of Kapha
It is ideal on the days of Panchakarma therapy
Navajvara – fever of recent origin
Kasa – cold, cough
Ama – accumulation of undigested materials,
Peenasa – rhinitis (running nose),
Shwasa – dyspnoea and
Parshvaruja – pain in the flanks.

If you have any of the above conditions, then it is good to drink lukewarm water throughout the day, especially at night. 
Those who are obese and suffer with early morning nasal drip, sneezing, indigestion etc complaints, for them, hot water at night is very suitable. 
Read related: Benefits Of Drinking Hot Water, Contra Indications

Warm milk at night 
is suitable for people with aggravated Vata conditions such as bodyache, acidity, gastritis, acid peptic disorders, tiredness, constipation, sleep problems, fatigue, anxiety, depression, etc. 

Cold milk at night might increase Kapha dosha excessively and may cause weak digestion and is not useful in case of cold, cough, allergy and asthma. 
Read: Cow Milk Benefits According To Ayurveda

Considering these facts, we can conclude that 
Consuming warm water is not equivalent to warm milk. 

Warm water at night is more useful in Kapha and Vata problems such as digestive and respiratory issues and 
warm milk is more useful in  high Vata and Pitta problems such as tiredness, hyperacidity, anxiety etc. 
Read: Cow Milk And Buffalo Milk – A Comparison

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