Ayurvedic diet is based on the basic principles of traditional Indian medical science called Ayurveda. In Sanskrit, Ayur means Longevity or Life, and Veda means Science. So, the word Ayurveda means The Science of Life. It is an ancient system of natural and holistic medicine.
Ayurveda believes that the five elements found in the universe – earth, water, air, fire, space – have strong effects on our individual system. These elements combine to form three distinct doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. These doshas determine our body type, health, abilities, and emotional state. And they must be kept in balance for a healthy and happy life.
What are doshas in the human body?
As per Ayurveda, the human body and all its functions are governed by three basic types of energies or mind-body principles based upon the five elements mentioned above. These are the doshas that form your prakriti. They influence everything in your body, such as body shape, health, and even your mind and emotions. When your doshas go out of balance, it is called vikriti. A state of vikriti can affect your physical and emotional health.
The Vata dosha has the characteristics of air and space. It influences movement. The Pitta dosha has the characteristics of water and fire. It influences digestion and metabolism. The Kapha dosha has the characteristics of earth and water. It influences structure and lubrication. Your body has all three doshas in varying degrees. The dosha that is present in a higher degree in your body is your dominant dosha. It is important not to let this dominant dosha become too dominant. A balance of doshas is important for good health.
Why is it important to keep your doshas in balance?
All three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) are present in your body. They all are essential for proper body functioning. No one dosha is better than the other. Each of these doshas can have positive as well as negative effects on you. The important thing is to keep these doshas in balance and not let your dominant dosha go out of control. Otherwise, this dominant dosha will start affecting your body negatively.
How to determine your body type as per Ayurveda?
As all three doshas are present in your body forming your prakriti, determining your dominant dosha can be confusing. Given below are the prominent characteristics of all the doshas in and out of balance. These may help you determine your dominant dosha.
Vata people have a thin build, do not gain weight easily, are quick to learn and quick to forget. They are enthusiastic & vivacious. They become cold easily.
- Vata in balance: When Vata dosha is in balance, the Vata dominant person is energetic and vivacious, learns easily, has clear & alert mind, falls asleep easily at bedtime, has healthy digestion, good circulation, and even body temperature
- Vata out of balance: When Vata goes out of balance, the Vata dominant person feels tired and/or fatigued, is forgetful, or spaced out, experiences lack of focus, has difficulty falling asleep, occasional constipation, and poor circulation (cold feet & hands). They may suffer from anxiousness & worry.
People who are pitta dosha dominant have a medium build, balanced weight, sharp intellect. They are goal-oriented. They become hot easily.
- Pitta in balance: When the Pitta dosha is in balance in Pitta dominant people, they become perfectionist and have type A personality. They have a strong intellect, strong digestion, and radiant, glowing skin. They have sound sleep through the night, enjoy inner peace & happiness.
- Pitta out of balance: When the Pitta dosha goes out of balance, the Pitta dominant people can become controlling, have a fiery personality and workaholic tendencies. Their body gets overheated and has excess stomach acid, skin rashes & acne. They may suffer from interrupted sleep and loose bowel movements.
People that are Kapha dosha dominant have a larger build and tendency for weight gain. They are slow to learn, slow to forget, and sweet & even-tempered. They dislike cold & damp weather.
- Kapha in balance: When the Kapha dosha is in balance in Kapha dominant people, they have a stable temperament, good long-term memory, robust physiology, good strength & stamina, and compassionate & affectionate nature. They enjoy a sound sleep.
- Kapha out of balance: When the Kapha dosha goes out of balance, people gain weight easily, have sluggish digestion. They are prone to sinus & respiratory issues and feel lethargic and sad. They have unhealthy food cravings and difficulty waking up.
We hope the characteristics mentioned above can help you determine your dominant dosha. If you are still confused, consult a practitioner of Ayurveda. There are many quizzes available online too that may help you determine your Ayurvedic body type. Also remember that your dominant dosha may alter with age, season, or life situations, etc.
What is Ayurvedic diet?
Ayurveda recommends eating food items that pacify your predominant dosha, promoting the beneficial effects of the dosha and reducing the negative effects. Ayurvedic diet is the food plan that can help you do this.
The Ayurvedic diet recognizes six major tastes with different beneficial effects. These tastes are sour, sweet, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Ayurveda encourages including all six tastes in your daily meals to maintain a nourished body and good health.
As per Ayurveda, if your regular diet is too heavy in some tastes and deficient in others, it will trigger unhealthy food cravings and disturb the balance of doshas in your body.
How to choose food as per your body doshas?
If you are Vata dominant, minimize cold and raw foods and reduce the intake of caffeine. Instead, have more warm dishes that have more sweet, salty, and sour tastes. That is, have more whole grains, starchy vegetables, honey, salted foods, salted fish, citrus fruits, berries, and pickled foods.
If you are dominant in pitta dosha, reduce the intake of hot and spicy foods. Avoid alcoholic and fermented foods. Focus on food items with sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes. So, have more of green leafy vegetables, broccoli, and celery. Also include lentils, beans, green apples, and pomegranate in your diet.
If you are Kapha dosha dominant, reduce the intake of salty and heavy foods, and dairy products. Have more food items with pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes. So, eat more food items like peppers, garlic, onions, mustard, and ginger.
However, do remember that Ayurveda recommends a healthy, natural, and balanced diet. So, don’t totally banish any taste from your regular meals. Only banish unhealthy food items like processed and junk foods.
Ayurveda also recommends practicing mindful eating to feel more satisfied with less food. So, when you eat, focus on enjoying the taste of your food. We often watch television, stay busy with our phones and work while having meals, and barely notice what we are eating. This may lead to overeating. So, when you eat, savor the taste of your food. You will feel satiated sooner.
Can Ayurvedic diet help you lose weight?
Ayurvedic diet recommends consuming more healthy, natural food items according to your dominant dosha. This is said to ensure better physical and mental health. When you are healthy, feel energetic and happy, your digestive system and metabolism work more efficiently too. This may help in weight loss.
The ayurvedic diet also includes plenty of herbs and spices. These are rich in antioxidants. Some natural seasonings also act as prebiotics which nourishes the beneficial gut bacteria important for anti-inflammation, immunity, and maintaining a positive mood. Herbs and spices also boost satiety. And some spices like ginger and hot peppers are known to boost metabolism.
Pair the Ayurvedic diet with mindful eating. Also, remember that diet alone may not be enough for weight loss. Along with a healthy diet, make healthy life choices. That is, exercise regularly, take sufficient sleep, and keep away from unhealthy habits like smoking and excessive drinking.