Ayurveda is an Indian medical system dating back thousands of years, providing those that adhere to its principles with clear, direct routes to better physical and mental health. By following Ayurvedic teachings, you no longer need to rely on guesswork for excellent health as everything taught based on your body’s energy – or dosha. There are three types of dosha – they are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – and each has unique characteristics that help to define who you are, including your traits; how your body works, and what you can do to achieve better health and comfort in mind, body, and soul.
The first step to pursuing an ayurvedic diet is to find out which dosha you are – this will set out the principles you need to follow for better health, including which foods you should be consuming.
Kapha individuals are the largest of the doshas as, often, they have broad hips and shoulders and high levels of physical stamina, suitable for high-intensity exercise. Typically, Kapha’s are incredibly physical but are slower to learn and take in information when completing non-physical tasks, however, once the knowledge is in there, a Kapha has an easy time remembering information, including during exams and when cooking from memory, for instance. A Kapha’s physical strength translates into emotional strength, too, as they are loyal and reliable, which often presents itself best in relationships – usually, Kapha’s are the ‘rock’ thanks to their dependability and overall strength.
It is easy to see when a Kapha is unbalanced as they will become lethargic and lazy which may lead to weight gain and associated health problems such as diabetes. Often, out of balance Kapha’s will also experience signs of congestion and poor blood circulation, as well as slow digestion, including bouts of constipation. If you are suffering from poor circulation, try a dry body massage to stimulate your body and get everything moving as it should. Although the best way to bring balance back to a Kapha is to exercise – Kapha’s rely on physical activity for excellent health, so regular exercise is essential.
As a Kapha, you should avoid anything high in fat, sugar or salt. Your diet should, primarily, consist of fruit and veg – anything high in fibre – and plenty of spices such as cumin, nutmeg, and ginger.
Most Pitta’s are of a medium build and, typically, have excellent muscle tone and a rosy complexion. Pitta individuals are more likely to begin losing their hair at a young age, however, to make up for it, they are beaming with energy and have a robust digestive system – they can eat almost anything. Mentally, Pitta’s are perfectionists which mean they are more susceptible to irritable tendencies. Most Pitta’s want to enjoy life and embrace new experiences – they are intelligent and ambitious.
Becoming irritable is a sign of an imbalanced Pitta. Irritation and resulting high levels of stress can lead to inflammation, including headaches and rashes, as well as problems with digestion, including diarrhoea. While a Pitta’s commitment to work is admirable, it is not always good for your health. As a Pitta, if you’re feeling irritable, stressed and downright groggy, the best thing to do is to take a step back and relax, allowing tension you’re holding to disperse. Soothe inflammation with coconut oil and settle digestive problems by consuming fresh juices such as pomegranate juice with aloe vera.
As a Pitta, it’s important you extinguish stress with cooling vegetables such as cucumber and lettuce. You should avoid hot spices, alcohol, coffee, and high-acidity foods such as vinegar and citrus, replacing them with sweet fruit such as pineapples, mangos, and melons – the juicier, the better!
If you are naturally skinny, it’s likely you’re a Vata. Vata’s are, typically, the thinnest of the doshas and, often, find it very difficult to put on weight – they are naturally slim thanks to their naturally high metabolism. Physical attributes associated with a Vata include dry skin and hair and a bony, non-muscular figure. Mentally, Vata’s are creative and open to change but are also prone to anxiety.
When out of balance, Vata’s will experience problems with digestive health, such as constipation, as well as a less efficient immune system, making them more prone to common illnesses such as colds and sickness bugs. Due to their small stature, Vata’s tire quickly, too. For Vata individuals to improve their health, it’s important they get into a routine such as having a set bedtime, lunchtime, and dinnertime – this will help sleep and, consequently, increase energy levels and overall wellbeing.
Vata individuals should avoid anything that’s dry and crunchy, including dry cereal, as well as fizzy drinks and raw vegetables. A Vata’s diet should be packed with warm foods such as soups and hot milk, as well as cooked vegetables – warming winter dishes such as casseroles are ideal for Vata’s.
Currently, detoxifying juice cleanses are all the rage; however, most ayurvedic health professionals advise avoiding juice cleanses. Ayurveda is about transforming your body for the better long-term, rather than quick fixes. You need to strive to understand your body and mind, and what both require for optimum health, rather than jumping in without a clue. Providing you follow the principles of Ayurveda, you’re likely to feel better in yourself relatively quickly. If you are determined to embark on a juice cleanse, we recommended doing so for only a few days and at a sensible time of the year such as in spring or autumn when it’s not too hot nor too cold, so your body retains its nutrients for longer. Pursuing a juice cleanse in summer, for instance, is incredibly dangerous as, in hot weather, your body sweats and loses its nutrients fast which means you need to be eating regularly and appropriately to keep your electrolytes balanced, preventing nutrient deficiency-related illnesses.
Find out which dosha you are and begin amending your diet and lifestyle to suit its principles for better mental and physical health. And most importantly, always listen to your body’s needs.