Nutrition is one of the pillars of optimal health and vitality. What you eat gives your cells the raw materials it needs to function well and produce energy. However, not everyone reacts well to the same foods – even if those foods are considered healthy! In Ayurvedic medicine – a traditional Indian healing system – each person is thought to have a specific body type or dosha. This centuries-old approach believes you should eat Ayurvedic diets according to your dosha.
Keep reading as we explore the benefits and risks of an Ayurvedic diet and how to eat for the three doshas.
What is an Ayurvedic diet?
An Ayurvedic diet is a way of eating based on the ancient principles of Ayurvedic medicine that promotes optimal digestion and well-being. It involves following a personalized diet based on your body type and personality. There are three doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha.
Ayurvedic eating focuses on cooking with fresh, seasonal foods, and eating slowly and mindfully.
Some other principles include:
- Avoiding snacking between meals
- Eating warm foods in winter and cool foods in summer
- Eating recently harvested foods
- Including different tastes in a meal such as sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent, and pungent
- Using spices
Benefits of Ayurvedic diet
Eating according to Ayurvedic principles is all about balance and feeling your best. It encourages nutrient-dense, fibre-rich whole foods including Ayurvedic herbs, and discourages processed foods.
Proponents of the diet believe it has the following benefits:
- More energy
- Better sleep
- Improved digestion
- Weight management
- Improved reproductive and hormonal health
- Decreased inflammation
- Balanced blood sugar levels
According to Ayurveda, eating the right foods for your dosha – and avoiding foods that aggravate your dosha — reduces the risk of toxicity, chronic illness, and premature ageing. Scientific studies don’t support this theory, but research suggests eating according to your dosha may help with weight loss1.
Risks of Ayurvedic diet
There’s minimal evidence to suggest that eating an Ayurvedic diet is beneficial or detrimental to overall health.
However, eating according to your dosha eliminates a list of foods and food groups from your diet. This could lead to nutrient deficiencies if you are not diligently using food substitutions or supplements. The rules of an Ayurvedic diet may be confusing for some people to follow. Others may find the diet inflexible and restrictive.
People with a kapha (pronounced kuffa) dosha are strong, grounded, and caring. They typically have strong bones and joints and a healthy immune system. They may also be susceptible to weight gain, allergies, and diabetes.
Kapha doshas thrive when eating small, easy-to-digest meals that are bitter, astringent, spicy, and served warm. The best cooking methods for kapha diets are baking, grilling, and sautéing – but they should avoid steaming.
People with a dominant pitta dosha are fiery, athletic, motivated, and mentally strong. They have a fast metabolism, healthy circulation, and good digestive function. Pittas must eat regularly to avoid mood swings.
Pitta diets are largely vegetarian and focus on foods that fall into the sweet and bitter categories – they should avoid heavy, salty, spicy, and sour foods. Pittas should eat cool or slightly warm foods.
People with a vata dosha are slim, creative, flexible, and easily distracted. They may be sensitive to the cold and inclined towards anxiety, insomnia, and digestive problems.
Vata diets include warm, well-cooked food that are sweet, salty, or sour.
More details on foods to eat and avoid while on an Ayurvedic diet
|Foods to eat for kapha dosha
|Foods to avoid for kapha
|Foods to eat for pitta dosha
|Foods to eat for pitta dosha
|Foods to eat for vata dosha
|Food to avoid for vata dosha
|Low-fat dairy products
|Seasonal fruits and vegetables
|Full-fat dairy products
|Cold or frozen foods
While there isn’t a lot of research to support Ayurvedic eating, proponents swear there’s something to it!
The best way to find out what Ayurvedic diet you should follow is to visit a qualified Ayurvedic doctor. They will assess your body type, personality, and health history to determine your dosha and guide you on your Ayurvedic health journey.
Sharma et al. (2009). Diets based on Ayurvedic constitution – potential for weight management. Altern Ther Health Med. Available at: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19161047/
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