Gunas are the psychic qualities of the mind. They play a vital role in the maintenance or deterioration of health.
The Gunas can be translated as "qualities" but they can also be said to be an impulse, an influence.
Three in number, these main qualities are contained in all forms of creation:
- Sattva is knowledge, purity, harmony
- Rajas is action, passion
- Tamas is inertia, ignorance
Just as the body contains the five elements, the mind has each of these three Gunas. Food, plants, animals and human beings can be grouped according to their dominant qualities/gunas.
These gunas are expressed according to the environment, emotions and diet.
The quality of food consumed, the environmental context are crucial in maintaining mental and physical health.
By consuming rajasic or tamasic food, as well as being in contact with a rajasic or tamasic environment, the mind will be influenced and disturbed and may cause physical disorder, just as an unbalanced dosha will impact the quality of the mind.
Anything that increases Sattva is considered of great value to the mind since the state of peace and harmony of the mind is sattvic.Conversely, anything that reduces Sattva, or increases Rajas or Tamas must be moderated.
This can be through food: certain foods like ghee, rice, almonds, milk and honey increase Sattva.
Red meat, food that is too salty, too acidic, too hot, or too spicy increases Rajas.
Alcohol, processed food, and leftovers. increases Tamas.