How to balance our doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) with proper diet and lifestyle?
In my previous blog – KNOW YOUR BODY TYPE AND PERSONALITY – VĀTA, PITTA, KAPHA [PART2] – I talked about the characteristics of each Dosha body type ( Vata, Pitta and Kapha). If you have read that blog, you must have got some idea about which characteristics resemble with your own body. Now let’s talk about how to balance our doshas with the help of proper diet and lifestyle.
While reading about the characteristics of each Dosha body type, you might have also noticed that your body might have mixed characteristics from any two Doshas, it is called as dual dosha body type. This is very common, but according to Ayurveda, it is not that good. It is rare that someone has a single/pure Vata, Pitta, or Kapha body type. Pure dosha body type is considered better than dual dosha type. From the perspective of Ayurveda, the Tridosha body type is considered as the best type, which is influenced equally by Vata, Pitta and Kapha. It is the rarest doshic type.
But no matter what type of doshas your body is composed of, you can always balance your doshas with the help of diet and lifestyle guidelines given by the Ayurveda.
The six Rasas / Tastes according to Ayurveda
The ancient Ayurvedic scripture Ashtāngahridayasaṃhitā (अष्टाङ्गहृदयसंहिता) explains the six rasas (tastes) as follows:
Effect of tastes on Tridosha
Ashtāngahridayasaṃhitā (अष्टाङ्गहृदयसंहिता) explains it as follows.
The 6 Tastes and Their Predominant Elements
|Sweet||Earth & Water (decreases Vata and Pitta, increases Kapha)|
|Sour||Earth & Fire (decreases Vata, increases Pitta and Kapha)|
|Salty||Water & Fire (decreases Vata, increases Pitta and Kapha)|
|Pungent||Fire & Air (increases Vata and Pitta, decreases Kapha)|
|Bitter||Air & Space/ Ether (increases Vata, decreases Pitta and Kapha)|
|Astringent||Air & Earth (increases Vata, decreases Pitta and Kapha)|
This basic understanding of the 6 tastes and their effect on dosha will help you every time you make food choices.As I have already explained in my previous blog each dosha is a combination of two elements out of five basic elements (Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth). So it lacks other three basic elements. If we want to balance it we need to eat food which consists of the remaining three basic elements.
For example – If we eat more food with the space and air elements in it (food tasting Pungent, Bitter and Astringent), then it will aggravate or imbalance your Vata Dosha. Vata dosha is a combination of space and air elements, so if we want to balance it we need to eat food which consists of the remaining three elements like earth, water and fire (food which is sweet, sour and salty).
When we eat food with the understanding of its nature and its effect on particular dosha we can easily balance it and maintain our Prakruti.
Our mothers or grandmothers always tell us to eat foods with every taste in our diet. Now you must have understood why is this so important. If we include foods with every taste in our regular diet with balanced proportions, our doshas will always remain balanced. Our mothers and grandmothers have this knowledge, which has been passed to them by their mothers and grandmothers. Our elders have always had this knowledge (knowingly or unknowingly), but these days we have started ignoring it as we moved on with our fast-paced lives…
Vata dosha imbalance signs and remedy:
Signs of Vata imbalance:
- Constipation, gas, bloating, dry, hard stool.
- Craving warmth, dislike towards cold temperature and wind.
- Frequent viral infection.
- Weight loss.
- Disturbed sleep.
- Dry or chapped skin.
- Difficulty tolerating loud noises.
Major causes of Vata imbalance includes:
- Eating vata-aggravating food.
- Irregular schedule of daily activities like eating, sleeping etc.
- Eating old, leftover, dry and cold food.
- Not eating enough food.
- Eating too rapidly.
- Eating while anxious or depressed.
- Drinking alcohol, coffee or black tea.
- Suppression of bodily urges, such as sneezing, passing gas or elimination of waste material like stool and urine.
- Staying up late.
- Excessive worry, fear, or loneliness.
Tips for eating (to balance Vata)
- Include sweet, salty, and sour tasting foods in your diet.
- Avoid bitter, astringent and pungent tasting foods.
- Eat warm, oily, or heavy foods.
- Avoid cold foods.
- Best oils to be used are almond, ghee and sesame.
- Avoid ice cream and frozen yogurt.
- Eat Boiled or steamed starchy vegetables.
- Eat Ripe fruits.
- Use mild spices like cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, coriander, salt, cloves, mustard and black pepper.
- Chamomile, fennel, ginger, lemon etc. herbal teas are good.
- Raw honey, jaggery (raw sugar), maple syrup, molasses are good as a sweetener.
- Avoid using brown sugar and white sugar.
- Incorporate Vata balancing herbs in your diet.
Pitta dosha imbalance signs and remedy:
Signs of pitta imbalance:
- The appearance of red, inflamed rash or acne on the skin.
- An occurrence of acute inflammation or swelling in body or joints.
- Acidity, gastric or peptic ulcers, heartburn.
- Feeling nausea or discomfort upon missing meals.
- Getting Diarrhea.
- An uncomfortable feeling of heat in the body.
- Feeling frustrated, angry, irritable.
Some major causes of pitta imbalance includes:
- Eating Pitta-aggravating food
- Eating while angry.
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Drinking coffee, black tea or alcohol.
- Being overly aggressive and competitive.
Tips for eating (to balance Pitta):
- Include sweet, bitter and astringent tastes in your diet.
- Avoid pungent(hot), sour and salty food.
- Eat boiled, steamed and raw vegetables
- Reduce the intake of hot and spicy foods.
- Eating sweet foods will reduce pitta.
- Drink warm milk with small amount of cardamom and ginger in it.
- Avoid buttermilk, salted cheeses, sour cream and yogurt.
- Ghee and olive oil is best to use.
- Use Mild, cooling spices like coriander, cardamom, cloves, turmeric, cumin, curry leaves, mint.
- Avoid jaggery(raw sugar) and molasses if your pitta is aggravated use honey instead.
- Incorporate Pitta balancing herbs in your diet.
Kapha dosha imbalance signs and remedy:
Signs of Kapha imbalance:
- The body gains weight or becomes obese, which is a result of slow and sluggish digestion of food.
- An occurrence of Water retention and swelling in the body.
- Increased frequency of cold, congestion or a cough.
- The increased sugar level in the body which results in diabetes.
- Increased cholesterol and triglycerides level in the body.
- Feeling lethargic is very common sign of Kapha because of heavy, slow and dull qualities of Kapha.
Some major causes of Kapha imbalance includes:
- Eating Kapha aggravating food.
- Eating excessive sweet, salty oily or fatty foods.
- Eating heavy meals or Overeating.
- Not doing any exercise or physical activity.
- Having excessive sleep.
Tips for eating (to balance Kapha):
- Include pungent, bitter, astringent taste into your diet.
- Avoid sweet, sour and salty foods.
- Eat more of boiled, steamed and raw vegetables.
- Eating ripe foods will be good to balance Kapha except for banana. Minimize the intake of heavy foods, salt and dairy products.
- Use raw honey instead of other sweeteners like sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup.
- Use oils in small amounts only even the best oil if overused will aggravate pitta.
- Strong spices like pepper, paprika, garlic, basil, cloves, fennel, mustard, turmeric, cumin, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, black pepper will stimulate digestion, improve appetite, clears sinuses, stimulates blood circulation which is very helpful for balancing Kapha.
- Incorporate Kapha balancing herbs in your diet.
Consult with a good Ayurvedic practitioner to know your dosha type. This will be helpful for you to know the dietary and lifestyle changes you need to do to balance your dosha. Along with diet and lifestyle changes, you can also incorporate some Ayurvedic herbs in your regular diet to balance your dosha.
The principles of Ayurveda and Ayurvedic medicine are solid and timeless. According to Ayurveda you can yourself cure/prevent 80% of the diseases in your body, that too in your home. Just by knowing your body’s basic tendencies and making wise decisions about what you eat and making some lifestyle changes you can stay healthy without ever going to a Doctor. Only for the remaining 20% of the diseases, you will require the assistance of a Doctor. These include major diseases like cancer, heart attack, surgeries and accidents. So, be in harmony with your mind and body by following guidelines given by Ayurveda and always remain healthy.
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