Ayurvedic Nutrition Guidelines for Balanced Doshas
by Dr. Christie Smirl
Ayurveda is the comprehensive science of wellness that originated in India over 5,000 years ago and is still widely practice globally. In Ayurveda each person has a unique Prakruti which is your body constitution. Each person’s Prakruti is determined by a unique combination of Doshas, Vata, Pitta and Kapha that govern every physiological function in the human body. The balance of these Doshas are greatly influenced by diet and lifestyle. Ayurveda understands that each food substance has the ability to reduce, increase or balance the panchamahabootas – 5 elements of water, fire, earth, wind and space in the body.
The first step is to have an Ayurvedic practitioner help you determine your prakruti (body constitution) and vikruti (current dosha balance). Once that is determined Ayurveda treats the root of the imbalance which most commonly stems from not eating in alignment with your prakruti or vikruti.
Vata is composed of the elements akasha (space) and vayu (wind). Vata gunas (qualities) manifest as rooksha (dryness), laghu (lightness), sheeta (coldness), khara (roughness) and chala (mobility). Vata is physiologically responsible for movement of prana throughout the body including chewing, swallowing, nerve impulses, breathing, muscle movements, thinking, peristalsis, bowel movements, urination and menstruation. When Vata element becomes elevated people may experience symptoms of anxiety, looping thoughts, forgetfulness, restlessness, insomnia, dry hair, dry nails, dry skin, dry eyes, dry bowels, constipation, gas, bloating and tremors. Ayurveda recommends restricting the following foods to balance and reduce improperly elevated levels of Vata in the body and mind.
Vata aggravating foods
- Crackers, chips, popcorn, rice cakes, dehydrated fruits
- Sugar, stimulants
- Carbonated or cold beverages
- Raw foods
- Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale
Here’s a short video about Vata as well.
Kapha is composed of the elements aap (water) and pritvi (earth) with the gunas (qualities) of guru (heavy), sheeta (cold), mrudu (soft), snigda (unctuous), manda (slow), sthira (stable) and slakshna (jelly-like). Kapha is physiologocally responsible for stabilizing and supporting body structure, strength, stamina, immune system, reproductive fertility, lubrication throughout the body, memory and brain function. When Kapha becomes abnormally elevated in the body symptoms include weight gain, polyps, tumors, cysts, fibroids, diabetes, high cholesterol, swelling, fatigue, depression, low mood, excessive sleepiness and mental fogginess. Ayurveda recommends restricting the following foods to balance and reduce improperly elevated levels of Kapha in the body and mind.
Kapha aggravating foods
- Heavy rich creamy sauces and dishes
- Flour products including bread, pasta, tortillas, bagels, muffins and croissants
- Sweets such as candy, cake, cookies, pastries, pie, tarts
- Meat and dairy including cheese, milk, ice cream, creamer, cottage cheese, yogurt, sour cream, cream cheese, whip cream
- Cold drinks
- Bananas, avocado, dates, coconut, soy, nuts, oils
Here’s a short video about Kapha.
Pitta is composed of agni (fire) and aap (water) with the gunas (qualities) of sneha (unctuous), teekshna (penetrating), ushna (hot), laghu (light),visra (viscous) and sara (fluid). Physiologically, pitta regulates metabolism, digestion, liver function, hunger, thirst, visual perception, skin complexion and valor. If pitta becomes elevated in the body, symptoms may include increased body temperature, hot flashes, red inflamed eyes, red inflamed mouth or gums, heart burn, acid reflux, skin rashes, acne, inflammation, loose stools, burning urine, fever, irritability, anger and aggression. Ayurveda recommends restricting the following foods to balance and reduce improperly elevated levels of Pitta in the body and mind.
Pitta aggravating foods
- Nightshades: tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, chilies, potatoes
- Hot sauce, salsa, mustard, ketchup, vinegar, fermented foods or drinks
- Deep fried oily foods
- Sour foods such as green apples, kiwis, grapefruit, tamarind
Watch a short video about Pitta.
In Ayurveda, eating according to your prakruti and vikruti is often the first step to restoring physical and mental health. Start thinking of food as medicine and know what foods are best for your prakruti and vikruti. If you are interested in learning more about Ayurveda and nutrition, keep an eye on classes and certifications offered year round on HealthierVibrations.com.
Dr. Christie Smirl has over 25 years of medical experience. She completed a Doctorate of Ayurvedic Medicine from American University of Complimentary Medicine plus a Master of Science degree and Nurse Practitioner from Loma Linda University. Dr. Christie is also an E-RYT 500 Yoga Teacher Trainer, YACEP, Reiki Master/Teacher, Tantric Energy Healer and Musician.
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