Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ayurvedic Diet

In a previous post, I described a diet for ascension which spoke in very general terms about gradually evolving your diet from omnivore to vegetarian to vegan. To assist with making these transitions, Ayurveda can be a big help.

Pretty much all diets give little consideration to the individual, and assume that if one person benefits from the diet then all will. Ayurveda on the other hand acknowledges that each person is unique, therefore the optimal diet for each person will also be unique.

Ayurveda starts by defining three broad categories of people from a psychobiological point of view. These categories are called doshas and are named vata, pitta, and kapha. Each person is some combination of these three doshas. The following description of each dosha is taken from "The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies".


Vata

Dry skin, hair, lips, tongue; dry colon, tending towards constipation; hoarse voice. Light muscles, bones, thin body frame, light scanty sleep, underweight. Cold hands, feet, poor circulation; hates cold and loves hot; stiffness of muscles. Rough, cracked skin, nails, hair, teeth, hands and feet; cracking joints. Subtle fear, anxiety, insecurity; fine goose pimples; minute muscle twitching, fine tremors; delicate body. Fast walking, talking, doing many things at a time; restless eyes, eyebrows, hands, feet; unstable joints; many dreams; loves traveling but does not stay at one place; swinging moods and shaky faith. Clairvoyant; understands and forgets immediately; clear, open mind, experiences void and loneliness. Dry choking sensation in the throat; gets hiccoughs, burping; loves oily, mushy soups; craving for sweet, sour, and salty tastes.

Pitta

Good digestive fire; strong appetite; body temperature tends to be higher than normal; hates heat; gray hair with receding hairline or baldness; soft brown hair. Sharp teeth, distinct eyes, pointed nose, tapering chin, heart-shaped face; good absorption and digestion; sharp memory and understanding; irritable. Light/medium body frame; does not tolerate bright light; fair shiny skin, bright eyes. Soft oily skin, hair, feces; does not like deep-fried food (which may cause headache). Loose liquid stools; soft delicate muscles; excess urine, sweat and thirst. Pitta spreads as rash, acne, inflammation all over the body or on affected areas; pitta subjects want to spread their name and fame all over the country. Sour acid stomach, acidic pH; sensitive teeth; excess salivation. Bitter taste in the mouth, nausea, vomiting; repulsion toward bitter taste; cynical. Heartburn, burning sensations in general; strong feelings of anger and hate. Fetid smell under armpits, mouth, soles of feet; socks smell. Red flushed skin, eyes, cheeks and nose; red color aggravates pitta. Yellow eyes, skin, urine and feces; may lead to jaundice, overproduction of bile; yellow color increases pitta.

Kapha

Heavy bones, muscles, large body frame; tends to be overweight; grounded; deep heavy voice. Slow walk, talk; slow digestion, metabolism; sluggish gestures. Cold clammy skin; steady appetite and thirst with slow metabolism and digestion; repeated cold, congestion and cough; desire for sweets. Oily skin, hair and feces; lubricated, unctuous joints and other organs. Congestion in the chest, sinuses, throat and head. Smooth skin; gentle calm nature; smoothness of organs. Dense pad of fat; thick skin, hair, nail and feces; plump rounded organs. Soft pleasing look; love, care, compassion and kindness. Loves sitting, sleeping and doing nothing. Viscous, sticky, cohesive quality causes compactness, firmness of joints and organs; loves to hug; is deeply attached in love and relationships. In early morning, mind is cloudy and foggy; often needs coffee as a stimulant to start the day. The anabolic action of sweet taste stimulates sperm formation, increasing quantity of semen; strong desire for sex and procreation; abnormal function may cause craving for sweets. Salty taste helps digestion and growth, gives energy; maintains osmotic condition; abnormal function may create craving for salt, water retention.

If one of those descriptions resonated with you, then that is likely your dominant dosha. Every food item has either a pacifying or aggravating effect on a given dosha, and by following a diet of mainly pacifying foods you can greatly reduce the negative qualities listed for your dosha while enhancing the positive ones.

The recommendations can be very subtle, for example: raw apples aggravate vata while cooked apples pacify, sour apples aggravate pitta while sweet apples pacify, and apples of any type and in any form pacify kapha. I used to eat a raw apple every day, but when I switched to cooked along with other "heating" recommendations it greatly reduced the vata problem of coldness I used to suffer from. I also used to eat raisins daily which aggravate vata dryness, another problem I had, but now I cook them with my oatmeal so they become soft and moist, and when combined with other "moisturizing" recommendations I eliminated all of my dryness problems.

The most important thing that Ayurveda taught me was to eat with awareness; to not only be aware of the sight, smell, touch and taste of the food while I was eating it, but to follow it through my digestive system. How does the food feel in my stomach? How does my mouth feel? Is the aftertaste good or bad? Did my tongue remain clean or become coated? How does the food feel as it passes through my intestines? Did it cause any burping or flatulence? How did it feel and what did it look like as it left my body? By following this practice you can quickly arrive at your optimal diet and be bursting with health and energy in no time.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Manoj for the description about Vata, Pitta and Kapha terminology in detail. I'll share this article with others also. People need to understand that ayurveda is the cure of diseases from the root.

    Regards,
    Kunik Goel

    ReplyDelete