Why is it Important to consume Right Foods?
Remember that food not only affects the body but your mind too. There are umpteen quotes in the scriptures of Upanishads and Ayurveda reinforcing this.
For example, sage Uddalaka instructs his son Svetaketu as follows: “Food when consumed becomes threefold, the gross particles become excreta, the middling ones flesh and the fine ones the mind.”
The Chhandogya Upanishad quotes: “By the purity of food one becomes purified in his nature; by the purification of his nature he verily gets memory of the Self, and by the attainment of the memory of the Self, all ties and attachments are severed.”
Be conscious of the type of food you eat since it effects your well-being, body and mind in innumerable ways.
Ayurveda has a perspective of doshas (vata, pitta and kapha). When the three doshas are in balance, your body is in a state of well being. Acidic (tamasic & rajasic) foods aggravates vata and pitta, Alkaline (sattvic) foods pacify all the three doshas.
WHAT ARE DOSHAS?
According to Ayurveda we are made up of five elements and the jivatman. The five elements (Maha bhutas) are Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Space. The combination of these five elements give rise to the three doshas.
The doshas are biological energies found throughout the human body and mind. They govern all physical and mental processes and provide every living being with an individual blueprint for health and fulfillment.
THE THREE DOSHAS
There are three types of Doshas. Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
1) Vata is composed of Space and Air.
2) Pitta of Fire and Water.
3) Kapha of Earth and Water.
PRAKRUTI & VIKRITI
This is the principle that recognises that each human being is born with unique combinations of doshas and that this natural balance is what is responsible for physical, mental and emotional difference among people. By identifying and maintaining an individual’s Prakruti, each person can create his or her own state of ideal health.
If the proportion of doshas in your current state is close to your birth constitution, then your health will be vibrant. A divergence between these states, however, indicates a state of imbalance. Vikruti is a term used to describe the imbalanced deviation away from Prakruti.
DOSHA : VATA (AIR & SPACE)
Vatas tend to be more spacey, anxious, with active minds. They speak quickly, and are likely to have joints that crack. Vata influences the movement of thoughts, feelings, prana flows, nerve impulses, and fluids in the body.
Vatas tend to always be on the go, with energetic and creative minds. When Vatas are in balance, they are lively and enthusiastic.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF VATA:
Thin, light frame, and excellent adaptability. Their energy comes in bursts, and they are likely to experience sudden bouts of fatigue. Vatas typically have drink skin and cold hands and feet. They sleep lightly and their digestion can be sensitive. When imbalanced, Vatas tend to experience weight loss, constipation, arthritis, weakness, restlessness, aches, and pains.
EMOTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF VATA:
Vatas love excitement and new experiences. They are quick to anger but also to forgive. They are energetic, creative, and flexible. They also take initiative and are lively conversationalists. When imbalanced, Vatas are prone to worry, anxiousness, nervousness, and often suffer from insomnia.
FAVOURABLE FOODS FOR VATA:
Warm, nourishing foods with moderately heavy texture, plus added butter and fat are good for stabilizing Vata. Warm milk, cream, butter, warm soups, stews, hot cereals, millets, hot herbal teas, raw nuts and nut butters are good for Vatas. All sweet ripened fruits are good for Vata.
Spices: Cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, ginger, cloves, and garlic are all OK for Vatas.
FOODS TO REDUCE FOR VATA BALANCING:
Cold foods such as salads, iced drinks, raw vegetables and greens are not good for those with Vata imbalance (i.e. where Vata is dominant). Avoid drinks with too much caffeine and candies as they disturb Vata. Avoid unripe fruits, as they are too astringent.
DOSHA : PITTA (FIRE & WATER)
Pittas literally have more fire in them than other types. They have better appetites and better digestion. They can withstand the cold better, as they are hotter-headed. They are naturally aggressive and impatient, intelligent and sharp. Since Pittas have strong and efficient digestion, they can generally eat just about everything.
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS OF PITTA:
Pittas have excellent digestion and warm body temperature; they sleep soundly for short periods of time, have abundant energy, and a strong appetite. When imbalanced, Pittas may suffer from skin rashes, burning sensations, peptic ulcers, excessive body heat, heartburn, and indigestion.
EMOTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF PITTA:
Pittas have a powerful intellect and a strong ability to concentrate. They are good decision makers, teachers, and speakers. They are precise, sharp-witted, direct, and often outspoken. They are ambitious and practical, and love both adventure and challenges. When imbalanced, Pittas can be short-tempered, argumentative, and suffer outbursts of emotion.
FAVOURABLE FOODS FOR PITTA:
The best foods for Pittas are cool or warm, with moderately heavy texture and not steaming hot foods. Bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes are ideal. Take cool, refreshing food in summer or hot weather, like salads, milk, and ice cream. Herbal tea, specifically mint or licorice root tea are pacifying to Pittas. Vegetarian foods, in general, are the best for Pittas, as consuming red meat tends to heat the body from the fat. They should consume abundant amounts of milk, different types of grains including millets, and vegetables.
FOODS TO REDUCE FOR PITTA:
Pittas should use less butter and added fat, and they should avoid pickles, sour cream, and cheese. They should also avoid vinegar in salad dressing and use lemon juice instead. Alcoholic and fermented foods should be avoided. Reduce coffee. Avoid oily, hot, salty, and heavy foods such as anything fried. Pittas should also skip egg yolks, nuts, hot spices, honey, and hot drinks.
Most Pittas get into trouble by continued use of too much salt, overuse of sour and spicy food, and overeating.
DOSHA : KAPHA (EARTH & WATER)
Kaphas tend to have heavier, earthier bodies than other types, and tend to store watery substances like fluids and fat more readily. They are naturally calm and attached; A Kapha speaks slowly and melodically. They sometimes have watery dreams, and tend to have elimination that is thick and heavy.
HOW TO IDENTIFY KAPHA?
Kaphas have a strong build and excellent stamina as well as smooth, radiant skin. They sleep soundly and have regular digestion. But when Kapha build to excess they can gain weight, retain fluid, and allergies manifest in the body. When imbalances, Kaphas may become overweight, sleep excessively, become lethargic, and suffer from asthma, diabetes, and depression.
EMOTIONAL CHARACTERISTICS OF KAPHA:
Kaphas are naturally calm, thoughtful, and loving. They have an inherent ability to enjoy life and are comfortable with routine. Kaphas are strong, loyal, patient, steady, and supportive. They love music, reading, and relaxing. When imbalanced, they tend to hold on to things, jobs, and relationships long after they are no longer present. They display excessive attachment. When imbalanced, Kaphas become stubborn and resist change.
FAVORABLE FOODS FOR KAPHA:
Warm, light, dry food or light cooked meals including millets is favorable. Kaphas do best with lightly cooked foods or raw fruits and vegetables. Any food that is spicy is good for Kaphas such as very hot Mexican or Indian food, especially in winter. Dry cooking methods (baking, broiling, grilling, sautéing) are preferable for Kaphas over moist cooking such as steaming, boiling, or poaching. Preferred spices are cumin, fenugreek, sesame seed and turmeric.
FOODS TO REDUCE FOR KAPHA:
Kaphas need to watch the consumption of too many sweet and fatty foods, and need to watch their salt consumption as well, as it can lead to fluid retention. They should avoid deep-fried foods. A typical Kapha tendency is to overeat: The main meal should be at the middle of the day, and only a light, dry meal in the evening. In general, Kaphas should avoid sugar, fats & dairy products.