Some of the best Ayurvedic experts have treated diseases of their patients by merely changing their diet. It is not just important that you eat well enough, it also matters what food suits your body constitution or Doshas. A lot of people eat, generally healthy foods, that do not suit their Dosha constitution and then wonder, why their diet plans do not show the kind of results they are looking for!
What does exactly Ayurveda say?
According to Ayurveda, what you should and shouldn’t eat depends on your body constitution or prakruti. When you have a diet that aggravates your prakruti, you are bound to feel low on energy and over the long run, you could fall sick. But when you have a diet that suits your prakruti, you are bound to feel healthy and happy.
An individual’s prakruti is the ratio of three functional energies in the body. Also known as doshas, these energies are: vata, pitta, kapha . Each of these doshas have specific traits. The vata dosha is the air element and is responsible for all movement in the body. The pitta dosha is the fire element and is responsible for digestion. The kapha dosha is the earth element and provides moisture to the skin and lubrication to joints. Mostly, two of three doshas dominate in an individual. Pulse diagnosis or nadi pariksha can help diagnose the doshas dominating in your body.
The story of balanced and unbalanced doshas
In Ayurveda, one is always trying to balance the doshas for a happy and healthy life. But what does that promise us?
- A balanced vata: energy, enthusiasm, creativity and flexibility.
- A balanced pitta: intelligence, strong digestion
- A balanced kapha: calmness, thoughtfulness and loving and caring quality.
On the other hand, an imbalance in the doshas cause:
- An unbalanced vata: anxiety, irregular appetite, mild weight loss, constipation, interrupted sleep, bloating.
- An unbalanced pitta: anger, jealousy, indigestion, migraines, bladder and kidney infections.
- An unbalanced kapha: depression, laziness, heaviness, weak digestion, excess sleep, diabetes.
Letting the right diet do the balancing act
To keep your doshas in balance, follow this set of dietary instructions
Pitta pacifying diet
(Good for pitta prakriti and pitta imbalance)
- Fruits: All sweet fruits, pomegranate, figs, dates. Avoid sour fruits
- Vegetables: Sweet and bitter vegetables, asparagus, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, leafy vegetables,sweet potatoes, pumpkin, radish, sprouts, zucchini
- Grains: Wheat, rice, oats and all beans in moderate amount
- Dairy: Buttermilk, curd, milk, ghee
- Oils: Sunflower, olive, coconut
- Spices: Cinnamon, fennel, ginger, mint, coriander, turmeric, cumin in moderate amounts
- Nuts: nuts soaked in water, coconut
- Avoid: Hot, spicy, chilli, junk food, fried food, sour food, baked and fermented food
Vata pacifying diet
(Good for vata prakriti and vata imbalance)
- Fruits: All sweet fruits, fresh dates, figs, raisins
- Grains: Rice and wheat
- Vegetables: Cooked vegetables, asparagus, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, less amount of leafy vegetables, beans and sprouts
- Nuts: Nuts soaked in water (to be taken in moderate amount) and pumpkin seeds
- Legumes: Lentils, moong beans and soya
- Dairy: Milk, fresh cheese, butter and ghee
- Oils: Sesame, olive, sunflower and peanut
- Spices: Black pepper, ginger, coriander, turmeric, asafoetida, garlic, clove, sesame seeds
- Avoid dry food, junk food, cold food, frozen food and large beans like kidney beans and pea
Kapha pacifying diet
(Good for kapha prakriti and kapha imbalance)
- Fruits: All fruits can be taken in less amount
- Grains: Barley, Ragi, Corn, Oat meals, Millets and Beans
- Vegetables: All leafy vegetables, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, radish, wheat grass and sprouts
- Spices: Ajwain, asafoetida, basil, clove, cumin, curry leaves, fenugreek, garlic, ginger, pepper, pippali, turmeric
- Dairy: Buttermilk, goat milk, soya milk
- Oils: sesame oil in less amount & olive oil
- Nuts: nuts very less, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
- Avoid sweets, chocolates, pastries, cold drinks, milk products except buttermilk and milk cake
Common eating guidelines for all doshas
Ayurveda recommends a few eating guidelines that can keep your indigestion at bay:
- Since the cycle of seasons affects our predominant doshas state, one must eat according to seasons. For instance, one must have warmer foods during cold weather as cold foods in the winter will inhibit our digestive fire.
- Eat larger meals between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Post meal walks with a 10- to 15-minute rest aids in digestion.
Ayurveda identifies six major tastes we need in our diet every day—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. When we consistently eat food of particular tastes, it causes health problems and also triggers cravings for unhealthy foods. For instance, fast food contains mostly sweet, sour, and salty tastes and consuming them on a regular basis leads to a craving for sweets.
(Reference: Ayurveda Simplified by Dr. Nisha Manikantan)