Ayurveda and the Three Gunas


Living in India for the first 19 years of my life, I was extremely lucky to eat balanced Ayurvedic meals three times per day. At the time, I was an unconscious participant, eating my meals as they were presented without question. Many years later, as I write my cookbook, I am now realizing that scientists are just recently beginning to corroborate what the ancient Indians have known for thousands of years: that eating healthy, fresh, lively, local foods which are tailored to your body type will manifest within you, a most balanced and healthful body.

Ayurveda is a living medical science and a way of life & living for optimal health that is rooted in the traditions of ancient wisdom.

Ayurveda comes from two Sanskrit words:

  • ayus, meaning life, living and longevity
  • veda, meaning wisdom of the ages and knowledge of the ancients which is deeply rooted in the universal principles of creation

Everything and everyone is this universe is made up of the energy of the five elements: Ether, air, fire, water and earth, which you will discover in this article. Pairs of these elements combine to form a triad of bio-intelligent forces called doshas, which you will discover in my next article. But underlying all of this structure is the energy of the original three gunas.


The gunas are the universal qualities which are existent in every living being. The three gunasare SattvaRajas & Tamas. These three universal properties influence both our minds and bodies.

The principle of essence, light, intelligence, perception, harmony, and truth. The healthiest minds and bodies constitute Sattvic principles predominantly. These beings hold themselves in truth, goodness, honesty, and transparency. Sattvic foods tend to be anything fresh; fresh vegetables, fresh fruits, freshly made yogurt, raw honey, beans, lentils, nuts, etc.
Because it is important to maintain a lifestyle predominant in Sattva, many Ayurvedic books organize herbs, spices, and foods in relation to the three gunas. Maintaining a diet of mostly Sattvic nature is most beneficial to balance.

This does not mean that rajasic and tamasic foods should not be eaten. All three qualities, in various proportions, are necessary for balance in nature.

Rajasic foods can be used to equalize tamasic imbalances, for example. However sattvic foods have healing properties of their own accord and should be prioritized for optimal cellular intelligence.

Additionally, sattva and tamas are inactive energies and need the energy and movement of rajas for activation. It is due to the influence of these three universal qualities that the five elements came into existence.