The Ayurvedic Diet originated in India five thousand years ago. It is part of an overall health plan, which includes herbs, meditation, yoga, and massage. When we eat, we participate in the creative process of nature. We get new sets of cells for our stomach lining, for our skin etc. It is the food that we eat which provides the material for these processes.
`How` we eat determines the effect on our body. If we feel emotionally imbalanced when we eat, the food may disrupt the body order. If we eat too quickly or overeat, the poorly digested end product predisposes us to illhealth. Food intake should, contribute to order and coherence in the body. It should aid in keeping a balance so as to maintain immune strength.
Ayurveda has considered about the diet in detail. The Ayurvedic diet is one that not only nourishes the body, but also restores balance of `Tridoshas` wich is very much essential for maintaining Health. Depending on our dosha, or constitutional type, some foods can be beneficial, and others should be avoided.
These same foods may have the opposite effect on another dosha. The science of Ayurveda teaches that right diet is the foundation of healing. For maximum health and vitality, the ideal diet is one that balances our doshas.
Diet to Balance Kapha, Pitta and Vata
Simplified diet to pacify-"Kapha"
Favour Foods that are
- Bitter (green leafy vegetables, spices like fenugreek).
- Astringent (beans, lentils, unripe fruits)
Reduce food that are
- Sweet (sugar, wheat, rice, grapes, mangoes)
- Salty (pickles, chips)
- Sour (sour cream, cheese, yogurt, lime, orange)
Recommendation for Kapha diet
- Nuts - Avoid nuts, eat beans.
- Oils - Avoid large amounts of any oil.
- Vegetables- Eat all except: cucumbers, sweet potatoes, okra, and tomatoes.
- Spices - Avoid salt for it increases "Kapha"
- Grains - Most are suitable for Kaphas: Barley, Rye, Corn, Millet. Kapha dosha can be decreased by reduced intake of wheat, rice.
- Fruits - Eat lighter fruits of the more astringent kind: pears, apples, and pomegranates. Avoid heavy, very sweet or sour fruits, which increase kapha: grapes, bananas, figs, oranges, coconuts, pineapple, dates, and melons.
- Sweeteners - Honey though possessing an astringent quality good for reducing kapha; must be moderately used. Avoid sugar products, which increase Kapha.
- Meat and fish - Meat is not recommended. Avoid red meat and seafood. Moderate intake of white meat (chicken, turkey) is permitted for those who cannot do without it.
- Dairy - Use low fat milk; reduced intake of milk is good for kaphas. Milk should be boiled before drinking (to make digestion easier) and should always be taken warm. Do not drink milk with meals, which include all six tastes (it mixes well only with sweet taste) especially salty or sour foods. For Kapha disorders like congestion, one or two pinches of turmeric or ginger may be added to milk before boiling it. Yogurt, cream, ice cream, cheese, butter and excess of whole milk are not recommended.
Simplified Diet to Pacify "Pitta"
Favour foods that are
- Sweet (milk, rice)
Reduce foods that are
- Sour (cheese, tomatoes)
Recommendations for "Pitta" diet
- Beans - Eat lentils, Mung beans, toffee.
- Oils - Butter, ghee, olive and coconut oils. Reduce use of almond, corn and sesame oils which increase `pitta`.
- Vegetables - Asparagus, cabbage, cucumber, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, celery, and green leafy vegetables.
- Spices - Turmeric, coriander, cinnamon, fennel, cardamom are suitable in small amounts as they increase pitta. Chillie and cayenne, which aggravates pitta, should be avoided.
- Grains - Barley, oats, white rice, wheat are good. Brown rice, corn, millet and rye intake should be reduced.
- Fruits - sweet fruits like grapes, coconut, cherries, avocado, melons, mangoes, pomegranates, sweet oranges, plums, pineapples are good. Reduce intake of sour fruits, such as olives, under ripe pineapple or persimmons, sour oranges, unripe bananas.
- Sweeteners - All sweeteners are good for pitta. Large qualitative of honey should be avoided.
- Meat - White meat is acceptable (chicken, pheasant, turkey). Avoid red meat, seafood, egg yolk which increase `pitta`.
- Dairy - Milk, butter and ghee are food for pacifying pitta; reduce use of cheese, yogurt, sour cream, cultured butter milk as they aggravate pitta.
Simplified diet to pacify "Vata"
This diet may be too heavy for `vatas` if their digestion is irregular or weak.
Favour foods that are
- Sweet (rice, milk, wheat)
- Sour (yogurt, tomatoes, citrus fruit)
Reduce foods that are
- Bitter (green leafy vegetables)
- Astringent (beans, apples).
Recommendations for vatas diet
- Beans - reduce intake of beans all of which increase vata, except for tofu and moong dal. (Except green beans which is a vegetable)
- Oils - All oils reduce `vata`.
- Vegetables - Cooked beets, carrots, asparagus, sweet potatoes, cucumbers are good, do not eat these raw. Peas, broccoti, cauliflower, celery, zucchini, green beans, and leafy vegetables, can be taken in moderate qualitities if cooked with a little ghee, vegetable oil or butter: small amounts of vata reducing spices can be used.
- Spices - Small qualitities of black pepper, mustard seed, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, spices. Minimize use of chilies and red pepper.
- Grains - Rice and wheat are very good. Reduce intake of rye, oats, corn, millet, barley, and corn.
- Fruits - Sweet and sour fruits are good, such as oranges, bananas, avocado, grapes, peaches, melons, fresh figs, sweet pineapple, mangoes, sweet pineapple, dry, light or astringent fruits such as apples, pears, Iran berries, and dried fruits need to be taken less.
- Sweeteners - Brown and raw sugar, molasses, honey are good if consumed in reasonable amounts.
- Meat - Sea food, chicken, turkey are acceptable; rabbit, pheasant and red meat are to be avoided.
- Nuts - All nuts are good.
- Dairy - All dairy products are good for vata. For ease of digestion, boil milk and drink it warm. Strictly avoid taking milk with full meals as milk mixes well only with the sweet taste eg: cereal, toast.
These diets are not applicable to all individuals. Those suffering from cholesterol problem (high blood lipids) should consult their physician regarding fat and oil inclusion in their diet.
The Six taste Groups: A few Examples
- Sweet (Madhura)
- Sweet fruits: Figs, grapes, oranges, dates, pears
- Most legumes: Beans, lentils, peas
- Most grains: Wheat, rice, corn, barley; most bread.
- Milk and sweet milk products: Cream, ghee, and butter.
- Sugar in any form: Avoid honey (it has an astringent taste)
- Certain cooked vegetables, starchy tubers: Potato, carrot, sweet potato, beet root.
- Sour (Amla)
- Sour milk products: Yogurt, cheese, whey, sour cream
- Sour fruits: Lemon, sour oranges etc.
- Fermented substances: Soya sauce, vinegar, and wine, sour cabbage.
- Salty (Lavana)
- Salt: Sea salt, rock salt.
- Salt food: Pickles, chips.
- Pungent (Katu)
- Few vegetables: Radish, onion etc.
- Spices: Ginger, cumin, garlic, chilli, mustard seeds and black pepper.
- Bitter (Tikata)
- Certain fruits: Olives, grape fruits etc
- Egg plant, chicory, bitter gourd
- Green leafy vegetables: Spinach, green cabbage, Brussel sprouts, and zucchini.
- Certain spices: Fenugreek, turmeric
- Astringent (Kashaya)
- Walnuts, Hazelnuts
- Legumes, beans, lentils
- Sprouts, lettuce, rhubarb, green leafy vegetables, and most raw vegetables.
- Persimmons, cashew, berries, pomegranates, apple (to some degree) and unripe fruits.