Ayurvedic medicine is one of the oldest medical sciences in human history. Taking a lot of influences from the already well established Chinese medicine, the Ayurveda created a path and an identity of its own, uniting body, mind and soul as integral and indivisible part of humans.
Nowadays, Ayurveda is reaching west, at a time when people all over the world are showing a growing concern for their health and the dangers of an indiscriminate use of chemical medicines.
The Ayurvedic Principles of the Three Doshas
Ayurveda divides people into three main constitutions the Vata or air type, the Pitta or fire type and the Kapha, the earth type. Everyone is a mix of the three, with a predominant dosha. All humans and animals are a representation of nature, therefore Ayurveda believes we are constituted of natural elements.
Vatas are usually thin framed, highly adaptable to new situations, with changing peaks on their energy levels. These are the folks who feel usually cold and lose weight easily. They’re pleasant, social and very curious. They’re the natural born nomads and travelers.
Pittas are medium framed, usually with blond or ginger hair. They’re natural born leaders and love to have high position jobs. They love fresh climates and are usually intolerant to the heat.
Kaphas are steady, slow and have a tendency to gain weight. They love a routine and to predict every step of their lives. They don’t like traveling and prefer having a stable life within their community.
The Importance of Nutrition
Life is only supported by the nutrients food provide, therefore nutrition is one of the most, if not the most important part of Ayruveda. Each diet is usually extremely personalized and adapted to each individual dosha. The idea behind the Ayruvedic nutrition is to keep every element in perfect balance and harmony – the earth, the wind and the fire.
Eating rich, organic, seasonal vegetarian foods are the base for an optimal heath. Nature provides us with the best foods according to the season and our geographical location.
Vata types benefit from rich, oily and heavy foods to keep them grounded. The best tastes to pacify Vatas are sweet, salty, and sour. Foods that are pungent, bitter, or astringent should be avoided.
All cooked vegetables are welcome, specially sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, beets, asparagus. Other vegetables may be taken in moderation if cooked in extra virgin olive oil, including peas, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, and sweet potatoes.
Sweet, heavy fruits such as bananas, avocados, mangoes, apricots, plums, berries, coconut, figs, grapefruit, orange, lemon, melons, papaya, peaches, pineapples, rhubarb, kiwi, dates, nectarines and dried fruits are acceptable. Rice is an excellent cereal for Vatas.
Pita types will benefit from cooler foods that will help them tolerate their internal heat. Foods with sweet, bitter, and astringent tastes are best. Avoiding foods that are pungent, salty, and sour will help alleviate Pitta imbalances.
Sweeter fruits, such as grapes, melons, cherries, coconuts, avocados, mangoes, pomegranates, fully ripe pineapples, oranges, and plums are recommended. Reduce sour fruits, such as grapefruits, apricots, and berries are recommended.
The most recommended vegetables are asparagus, cucumbers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, green leafy vegetables, pumpkins, broccoli, cauliflower, celery okra, lettuce, green beans, and zucchini. Reduce tomatoes, hot peppers, carrots, beets, eggplant, onions, garlic, radishes, and spinach.
Kapha types should eat light foods and take full advantage of fasting and green juices to detox from the accumulations of toxins.
The best food qualities to balance Kapha are pungent, bitter, and astringent. Sweet, sour, and salty tastes should be reduced in order to avoid excessive weight gain and fluid retentions.
The best fruits are light and warming, such as apples, pears, pomegranates, cranberries, and apricots. Fruits like bananas, avocados, pineapples, oranges, peaches, coconuts, melons, dates, and figs should be avoided as they’re heavier and take longer to digest.
All vegetables are suitable for Kaphas, but reducing sweet and juicy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and zucchini is beneficial.
Yara Coelho is the author of the travel and personal development blog Heart of a Vagabond. She combines a passion for traveling, vegan food, yoga and alternative living. She has studied traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and Thai massage. Follow her on Facebook and Google+.