Ayurvedic medicine is a natural healing concept where one method of providing health is to use nutrition for your body. This method has been around for thousands of years and is gaining in popularity.
Rather than concentrate on just losing weight or getting fit, this way of eating covers the whole person. What it does is promote a way of eating that can restore the balance that you need to prevent disease.
In order to be completely whole and healthy, your spirit, your mind and your body need to be in tune with each other. You need this harmony in order to establish balanced, good health overall.
Understanding the Three Doshas
The dieting part of Ayurvedic medicine’s success is found in understanding the three doshas and how they link with nutrition. Each person has one of these types of life forces as a main dosha.
These forces are pivotal in determining how your body operates and responds to nutrition. Each of the doshas also has an elemental attribution.
The vata dosha relates to air and space. The pitta dosha is governed by water and fire, and the kapha dosha byearth and water. You can have more than a single dosha, however one is always going to be stronger, and therefore primary to the other.
For people who have the vata dosha as their main dosha, their body type usually tends to be thinner than the bodies of people with other doshas. Some people with vata dosha might find that it’s hard to put on weight.
Even if you want to – and even if you eat a diet high in calories – your body dosha helps to keep the weight off. This could very well be the dosha of people that talk about eating constantly and yet never gaining a pound.
If you have vata dosha and your body gets out of balance, you’ll notice it. This loss of balance will show up in certain health issues, such as bloating after you eat.
You might also experience some noticeable fatigue. If your balance doesn’t get restored, you’ll discover that your immune system isn’t working the way that it should be. Vata dosha types do well with a regular, daily, calming physical practice such as yoga or t’ai chi.
There are specific food guidelines that you should follow if you are vata. While many dietary plans promote the consumption of raw vegetables, these foods can cause imbalance to those with vata doshas. Besides limiting raw vegetables, be careful of foods that crunch – because eating any foods that have a crunch clash with the warm, cooked food that help someone with a vata dosha most.
You may also wish to limit any drinks that have carbonation. These items will throw your body out of balance. Instead of eating cold cereals that crunch, those with vata dosha should try to consume cereals that require cooking, like oatmeal.
Vegetables should also be cooked. When you do eat vegetables, you should focus on carrots, squash, okra, sweet potatoes and spinach. Not having salads is also a good idea if this is your dosha type.
Foods such as stews and soups are wonderful for people with vata dosha. Use natural sweeteners to flavor your food instead of processed sugars. With the vata dosha, it’s okay for you to have salty as well as sour foods, but you may wish to avoid spicy ones.
If you drink milk, try not to drink it cold and avoid cheeses that are aged. Limit or omit ice cream from your diet. You can have a lot of different fruits as long as these fruits are soft and juicy. In order to maintain healthy balance, you’ll need to stay away from certain foods. Some of these foods are cabbage, onions, peas and raw vegetables. You’ll also need to stay away from artificial sweeteners.
If you have a pitta dosha, you usually have an average body type and a sturdy frame. These people can build muscle easily and tend toward athletic activities. They’re usually people who have fast paced lifestyles and they like to be on the go and active.
When their dosha gets out of balance, it shows up in their body through the manifestation of inflammations, and sometimes rashes. For people with a pitta dosha, foods that have a high acidic level can cause problems.
Pizza, lasagna and other tomato type foods are not helpful to them. Instead, they should try to have plenty of fruits and vegetables with their eating plan. Eat foods packed with water, like watermelon and broth-based soups. The high water content is great for establishing and maintaining balance.
When it comes to grains, you want to stick with barley and wheat along with oats and white rice. Under vegetables, you can have plenty of brussel sprouts, cucumbers, cauliflower, squash and leafy green vegetables.
For fruits, what’s best for you are bananas, avocados, mangos, melons, grapes and oranges (but only if the oranges are sweet). Try to avoid sour fruits like grapefruits and lemons.
You’ll want to avoid tomatoes and tomato based foods. Also, stay away from spices and acidic things like vinegar. Fried foods are also not good for the pitta dosha.
If you enjoy drinking milk, it’s best for you to have it warm rather than cold, and preferably organic. Under grains, it’s okay to eat oatmeal or rice based foods.
Large boned people are usually those who have a kapha dosha. These people also tend to have wider shoulders and are viewed as having a strong build.
When their balance is thrown off, they can develop problems – usually seen in a slower metabolism, weight gain and circulation issues. If you have a kapha dosha, you want to be careful with your nutrition because it can be easy to gain weight quickly.
People that have a kapha dosha should stay away from ‘bad’ fats, high sugar foods and salt. They should concentrate on eating healthy foods that are high in fiber.
There are some foods that are helpful for all doshas. Candied ginger is good and so is masali tea. This tea helps you relom stress. Holy basil is also good for relieving stress, and is helpful because it can cause a boost in serotonin production.
To help aid in digestion, taking a teaspoon of turmeric every day can help the pancreas produce insulin. This is perfect for those who are worried about the prevalence of diabetes in their family.
But overall, you want to stick with a diet that’s tailored for your specific dosha. For the kapha dosha, you should eat a diet that consists of warm foods. It’s okay if those foods are spicy because these are great for kaphas.
Make sure that you lay off salt during cooking as well as putting it on your food after it’s prepared. You can have plenty of grains such as rye and barley. Legumes are good for you, too. Vegetables, if they’re green and leafy, are wonderful for the kapha dosha.
If you use dairy in your diet, stick to low fat, organic milk. Watch out for any milk-based deserts that are cold. Foods such as ice cream aren’t helpful to your balance if you’re a kapha.
The best fruits for your type are grapes, raisins, peaches and papaya as well as apples. These naturally sweet foods are good for you, but you’ll want to keep any artificially sweet foods to a bare minimum.
Not all fruits are best for your dosha type. So limit bananas, oranges and plums. Also stay away from foods that are oily and not warmed before you eat them.
The 6 Tastes of Ayurvedic Nutrition
The foods that are good for one dosha aren’t necessarily good for the others. It’s all in the taste of the food. In Ayurvedic nutrition, rasa is what defines taste. This is the foundation for determining which foods are right for you.
When you eat, you experience the taste that, in turn, causes a certain reaction within your body. The foods you eat can either speed up or slow down your digestion.
This is a cause and effect that’s brought on because the foods can trigger your body to experience taste as cool or hot. There are six tastes within Ayurvedic nutrition.
- Madhura – This first one is sweet. This rasa causes a cooling sensation within the body. Foods in this category can cause your kapha to expand. It can also restore the balance in the other doshas. If you find it difficult to put on any weight, this is the rasa you should follow. Rasa food such as the nectar of certain fruits and sweet syrups are good for this taste.
- Lavana – This one is the salt rasa. This causes a heating sensation to be experienced in the body. Those with a vata dosha gain the most benefit from this type of rasa. However, it’s not beneficial for pitta doshas. It’s also not good for kapha doshas because a salt rasa causes a trigger effect in a kapha, which can lead to salt cravings and a higher consumption of food. This results in eating too many calories and putting on unwanted pounds.
- Amla – This one is the sour rasa which also causes a heating sensation to flow through the body. While this kind of rasa does help vata dosha, it’s not good for the other two types.
- Katu – Pungent or hot foods are ones that have a definitive flavor and these foods are the strongest among the rasas, such as garlic and onion. They offer more balance to the kapha than the pitta or vata dosha.
- Tikta – These are the bitter foods which bring a cooling sensation for the body. This rasa has a lot to offer pitta dosha, but not much benefit to the others. Included in this category are spices such as turmeric, and dark leafy greens. Bitter foods are foods that can quickly cause mood swings – so they’re best eaten in moderation.
- Kashai – These are astringent foods which are foods that give you a cool sensation. Both pitta and kaphacan be helped with these foods, but not so much with vata. Included in the astringent category are foods such as apples, sprouts, quinoa, beans and lentils.
Pancha Karma: Cleansing & Healing Your Body with Nutrition
In order to restore balance to your body with nutrition, you need to prepare it for the healing. You can do this by using nutrition to cleanse your body. To get ready for this state of the nutrition, you’ll want to remove dairy, overly stimulating foods and beverages as well as sugary foods from your meals.
Focus your eating on grains and vegetables that are on your dosha nutrition plan. During your cleansing phase, you’ll want to consume a soup made from grains on your dosha nutrition list along with lentils and vegetables from your list.
Season the soup using only seasonings that are best for your dosha according to the rasa. This step in Ayurvedic nutrition allows you to bring your body back into harmony with your mind and spirit.
The process renews your immune system and promotes healing. During this process, your mind is cleared of the toxins as well as your body. Emotional toxins can interfere with any nutritional plan and cause a disruption that can impede digestion and slow healing.
When your mind and body are cleared from toxins, it allows your spirit to become centered.
Ayurvedic Nutrition Tips to Aid Digestion
A part of the Ayurvedic nutrition plan is in how you eat as well as what you eat for your dosha type. Too many people just shove the food in and keep right on going because they have to get on with whatever is next on their to-do list.
This can cause you to quickly become out of balance. Your food should never be steaming hot. Neither should it be ice cold. The foods that you eat should be warm and preferably not eaten on the go. Warm foods that are slowly eaten can help your body digest the food properly. Your food should be fresh in order to retain the best rasa, so cook smaller portions.
Not only should you eat what you’re supposed to eat according to your dosha type, but the amounts that you eat matter, too. When you eat too much or too little, you can throw your body out of balance.
You shouldn’t follow a set portion size because everyone has different nutritional needs – even within the same dosha type. Instead, you should consume enough food so that you’re no longer hungry.
Your body can only digest your food so fast. If you add more food while it’s still trying to digest what’s remaining in the stomach, you can cause a disruption in balance.
Don’t eat until your body tells you that it’s hungry. This may vary depending on what you’re doing day to day. While you should try to eat your dosha nutrition foods at the same time every day, that’s not as important as making sure you don’t eat if you’re not hungry.
Overeating not only throws off the balance, but it can contribute to slowing your healing process. How you feel also matters when you eat. If your body is full of negative emotions and you eat, you can lose the nutritional benefit of the food.
This occurs because of the harmony link between the body, the mind and the spirit. Disharmony can show up physically when you eat if you’re full of negative emotions.
Center yourself and still your mind when you prepare to eat. Be present in the moment with your food rather than allowing your mind to linger on other things. You should always be mindfully present during mealtimes so that you can enjoy flavors, aid digestion, and ensure that you don’t tune out your hunger cues.
Ayurvedic medicine is a whole health approach to wellness. It encompasses so much more than nutrition, so of course you may wish to investigate it further to see how you can keep your mind, body and spirit in perfect harmony.