Eating Right for Our Dosha: An Ayurvedic PerspectiveJun 30, 2021 01:00PM ● By Neha Kaushik
In the ancient healing medicine system of Ayurveda, our body constitution (dosha) is based on the five elements—earth, water, fire, space and air. These elements combine to form three doshas—Vata, Pitta, Kapha—which are present in each person in unique combinations.
A dosha-specific diet nurtures this unique combination and creates a state of balance in mind, body and spirit and therefore a step toward our optimal health. It can aid in boosting energy, immunity, cognition and metabolism. Eating according to our dosha means eating foods that are opposite to the characteristics of the elements of our particular type, so that a balance of all three doshas is maintained—thereby creating harmony and equilibrium. Making small but significant changes to our diet can give us more control of our health.
Eating According to the Vata Dosha
Vata individuals are a combination of space and air and would benefit from foods that provide lubrication and moisture for this dry constitution.
Freshly cooked, warm foods would help to balance this dosha. Warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cumin, turmeric and nutmeg are great. However, any extremely hot spice like chili or cayenne pepper should be avoided as they can cause excess dryness. A generous amount of high-quality ghee (clarified butter) or olive or sesame oils should be incorporated daily for lubrication.
Vata types should choose foods that are naturally sweet, sour and salty and avoid foods that are bitter, astringent, pungent and cooling. Due to their airy constitution, dry and light foods such as popcorn and crackers and raw foods including salads should be avoided. Highly processed foods, deep fried foods or anything that contains refined sugar or corn syrup should be avoided as well since these will aggravate vata. Warm turmeric milk should be consumed daily.
Recommended foods to balance Vata:
• Sweet or dried fruits such as bananas, coconuts, apples, figs, grapefruits, grapes, mangos, melons, oranges, papayas, peaches, pineapples, berries, apricots and avocados.
• Cooked vegetables in small quantities, such as asparagus, red beets, carrots, celery, sweet potatoes, garlic, onions, radish, watercress, zucchini, spinach, sprouts and tomatoes.
• Dairy items such as soy milk, fresh milk, yogurt, soft cheeses, sour cream and tofu as a substitute.
• Grains such as boiled oats, wild rice, quinoa, wheat and red lentils.
• Meats and eggs such as omelets, fish, chicken and other white meat.
Eating According to the Pitta Dosha
Pitta individuals are a combination of fire and water and would benefit from foods that are cooling. Freshly cooked, whole raw foods would bring balance to this dosha.
Cooling herbs and spices such as cilantro, coriander, fennel and cardamom are best. A moderate amount of high-quality olive, sunflower and coconut oils or ghee should be incorporated daily as this would prevent aggravation of pitta.
Pitta types should choose foods that are naturally sweet, bitter and astringent and avoid foods that are pungent, sour, salty, spicy (like chili) and warming (such as cayenne peppers). Red meat should be avoided, as well as anything deep fried or highly processed.
Recommended foods to balance Pitta:
• Sweet fruits such as apples, avocados, coconuts, figs, melons, oranges, pears, plums, pomegranates, watermelon and mangos.
• Sweet and bitter vegetables such as asparagus, cabbage, cucumber, celery, cauliflower, green beans, lettuce, peas, parsley, zucchini, sprouts, cress, chicory and mushrooms.
• Dairy such as goat, soy and cow milk, cheese and tofu as a vegan substitute.
• Grains such as barley, cooked oats, basmati or white rice and wheat.
Eating According to the Kapha Dosha
Kapha individuals are a combination of earth and water and would benefit from fresh cooked foods that are light, dry and warm.
Warming spices like ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, cumin, chili, black and cayenne pepper and honey would help balance this dosha. A minimal amount of high-quality sesame, sunflower oil or ghee should be incorporated into the daily diet.
Kapha types should choose foods that are pungent, bitter, astringent and warming, and avoid foods that are sweet, sour, salty and cooling. It is best to avoid any red meat, anything deep fried and anything containing refined sugar or corn syrup. Drinks that are room to warm temperature can be consumed, but any cold or carbonated liquids or fruit juices should be avoided.
Recommended foods to balance Kapha:
• Fruits such as apples, berries, cherries, mangos, peaches, pears, lemons, limes and raisins. Dried fruits should be avoided.
• Spicy and bitter vegetables such as red beets, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, garlic, lettuce, onions, parsley, peas, radish, spinach, fennel and Brussels sprouts.
• Grains in small quantities such as barley, corn, millet, oats and basmati or wild rice.
• Meats such as chicken, turkey, rabbit; and dairy such as reduced-fat milk in small quantities. Alternative milk, like oat or almond, is preferable in general. Avoid fatty cheeses and curd.
Dr. Neha Kaushik, NMD, MPH, MS practices at Institute for Ayurvedic and Naturopathic Therapies, located at 805 Kings Highway East, in Fairfield. Connect at 203-331-9111 or
[email protected]. See ad, page 12.
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