Traditional Indian medicine proposes that each person should choose foods based on their individual constitution. Discover how to do it to enhance your well-being.
The word “Ayurveda” and the knowledge it refers to have their origins in the Hindu sacred texts of the Vedas, written on the Indian subcontinent more than 3,000 years ago. Ayurveda roughly means “knowledge about life and longevity.” Ayurvedic principles of diet, like the Hippocratic ones here in the West, are based on individualization. Each person is unique in the universe, with a particular biotype or mind-body constitution. Therefore, the diet must be adapted to individual nutritional and energy needs.
The individual biotype depends on the proportion in which the three physiological “doshas” or humors are found: vata, kapha and pitta. These terms can be translated respectively as “wind,” “phlegm,” and “bile.”
Ayurveda medicine considers that the disease appears as a consequence of an imbalance or loss of harmony in the person. This means that an Ayurvedic diet, designed according to our constitution to promote balance, will not only keep us young and healthy, but can also be used as a treatment to heal an illness or disease. Ayurveda considers that the disease is caused by wrong diet and eating and living habits.
THE THREE DOSHAS SYSTEM
Food has specific qualities depending on the elements that compose it and that affect our body-mind-spirit balance (the prakriti or nature of our particular body). Therefore, the same food produces different effects in each person.
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Knowing these qualities and your personal biotype (determined by the proportion of each dosha) will allow you to create your own healthy Ayurveda diet in full harmony with your body.
The energies of food interact with the energies of each person, creating balance or imbalance. Food is made up of the 5 natural elements (water, earth, air, fire and ether), which determine its properties and effects on the body.
- The water element is liquid, fluid, and humid, it moves downwards and is nutritious if it is combined with a good proportion of the earth element. The sense related to water is taste.
- It is discontinuous movement, lightness, clarity, roughness, and it is calming, stimulating, healing and dehydrating. The sense of air is touch.
- It is solidity, stability, hardness, density, slowness, firmness and volume. The sense related to the earth is smell.
- It is energy, heat, dryness, sharpness, discontinuity, lightness, clarity, luminosity and has digestive action. The sense related to fire is sight.
- Ether is space, expansion, clarity, lightness, integration, it is neither hot nor cold, neither empty nor full and, like air, it also has the capacity to absorb liquids and is dehydrating. The sense of ether is hearing.
The properties of food do not depend only on its composition, but on the way in which it is combined, cooked or matured, because all this can change its qualities little or a lot.
YOU CAN ACT ON YOUR DOSHA
Each person is born with a proportion of these elements, manifesting in our body in a psychosomatic way. This proportion defines your biotype, which was constituted, according to Ayurveda medicine, by the physical and energetic conditions that occurred at the time of your conception.
However, because our body-mind-spirit is a constantly evolving ecosystem, the proportions of the 5 elements in our body and, consequently, the dosha, can also vary throughout our lives.
This means that we must check our dosha and update the diet before important life changes. In reality, people are not purely vata, kapha or pitta, but we are, in reality, the result of a combination of these doshas.
YOUR BIOTYPE IS UNIQUE
Up to 10 possible biotypes can be established, which are used as a reference, although your constitution is really unique: it can be clearly dominated by one biotype, and then you would be considered to be vata, kapha or pitta; all three can be very balanced and then you would be vata-pitta-kapha; Or you can have two dominant doshas, resulting in 6 combinations:
vata-pitta, pitta-vata, vata-kapha, kapha-vata, pitta-kapha, and kapha-pitta.
To know how we should eat, we must first know the qualities of each food, since the interaction between the 5 elements in food and the 5 elements in our body, which in turn define the dosha, will determine the final effect on our body-mind. -spirit.
THE SIX FLAVORS OF AYURVEDA
The first clue as to what the effect of a food is the taste. Ayurveda considers six flavors: astringent, sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and spicy. But, in reality, the effect of food does not depend only on its taste, but on the experience of our body after digesting it.
Thus, for example, foods can be “cold” or “hot”, not only because of their temperature, but also because of how they behave when they reach the stomach: sweet, bitter and astringent foods are considered “cold” and “hot” are those that are sweet, bitter and astringent. Salty, sour and spicy.
Foods with virya or cold energy increase vata and kapha and reduce pitta. On the other hand, those with hot virya, increase pitta and reduce vata and kapha.
But this is in the short term, because in the long term there is a post- digestive effect (vipaka) that we will also have to take into account:
- Acidic foods continue to be so.
- Sweet and savory have a sweet post-digestive effect.
- Spicy, bitter, and astringent foods are spicy in the long run. For example, turmeric, being bitter and cold, has a long-term spicy action, that is, hot, on the body.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE INGREDIENTS
When we know the qualities of food and the state of our doshas, we can decide which combination of ingredients will be most beneficial for our balance. Basically, foods with similar qualities to our dominant dosha or doshas will increase them and contribute to the imbalance, while foods with different qualities will decrease and balance them.
For this reason, in food and in Ayurvedic medicine there are two fundamental principles: equals increase and unbalance and opposites provide harmony.
Traditional Indian medicine gives importance to everything that promotes good digestion of food to facilitate the assimilation of nutrients and reduce the production of fermentations and toxins.
In addition to physical hygiene habits, emotions and thoughts are also important. That is why it is advisable to cook with love and eat with serenity, without sadness, worries or anger.
HOW TO ADAPT YOUR LIFE AND YOUR DIET TO YOUR AYURVEDIC BIOTYPE
If you want to know your Doha, you can answer the following test: Are you vata, kapha or pitta? Discover your Ayurvedic type.
Once you know your biotype or energy constitution, you can adapt your habits and choose the foods that suit you. Try to create your menus taking them into account.
IF YOU ARE VATA
To balance yourself:
- It lives in a warm, humid and calm climate, with little wind.
- Do physical and mental activities in moderation.
- Get enough sleep, meditate regularly, and provide yourself a safe and loving environment.
- Fat, salty and hot soups balance you out.
- Add a handful of cashews or half an avocado to your vegetable creams.
- Stick to a regular schedule and eat early.
Feeding for Vata:
- As vata is cold and dry, it is soothed by hot and humid foods, emphasizing the sweet-sour-salty taste in balance.
- Avoid yeasts, refined sugars, fermented sugars, dehydrated products, potatoes, and foods that make you flatulent.
- Vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, beet, carrot, cucumber, green bean, cooked onion, radish, sweet potato, turnips, sprouts and sprouts.
- Fruits: citrus, apricot, avocado, banana, cherry, coconut, date, fig, grape, mango, melon, nectarine, papaya, peach, pineapple, plum, raspberry and strawberry.
- Grains: rice, oats, mung beans, and lentils (especially red ones).
- Nuts and seeds: all are indicated in small quantities.
- Oils: sesame, olive, hemp and flax.
- Spices: all, except coriander, parsley and saffron.
IF YOU ARE KAPHA
To balance yourself:
- Lead an active, creative and stimulating life, interacting with your environment.
- Express your emotions, don”t keep them.
- Disconnect when you can from technology and stay in contact with nature.
- The lighter and lighter your food, the easier your digestion and the better your health.
- Drink 3-4 glasses of water a day.
- A plant-based diet meets all your needs.
Food for Kapha:
- Since kapha is heavy and cold, it is soothed by hot, light and dry foods with an astringent-spicy-bitter taste.
- Avoid meats, eggs, dairy, sweets, salt, and bread, fried, fatty, salty, sweet and cold foods.
- Bitter and astringent vegetables and hot herbs and spices benefit you.
- Increase gluten-free whole grains: quinoa, amaranth, millet, and whole oats.
- Vegetables: bell pepper, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, onion, pea, potato, radish and sprouts.
- Fruits: apple, apricot, blueberry, grape, kiwi, pear, persimmon, pomegranate and dried fruits.
- Grains: oats, rye and lentil.
- Nuts and seeds: almonds and sunflower seeds in moderation.
- Oils: sunflower and almond, in small quantities.
- Spices: all, except salt.
IF YOU ARE PITTA
To balance yourself:
- Live in a cool climate, avoid heat sources and lead a relaxed life.
- Meditate and practice yoga regularly.
- Express your emotions with respect and love towards others and towards yourself.
- The best diet for you is organic raw vegan, since you are very sensitive to the toxins found in food.
- Eat light and plenty of alkalizing foods.
Food for Pitta:
- Pitta is soothed by cold and raw foods with a sweet-astringent-bitter taste.
- Increase protein, sprouts, sprouts, and fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid excess fat, salt, caffeine, garlic, and spice.
- Vegetables: asparagus, cabbages, celery, cucumber, green leafy vegetables, mushrooms, peas, sweet potato, sweet pepper and zucchini.
- Fruits: apple, cherry, coconut, date, fig, black grape, mango, melon, pear, plum, pomegranate and, as long as they are ripe and sweet, grape, orange and pineapple.
- Grains: rice, oatmeal, mung bean, chickpea and peas.
- Nuts and seeds: almond, cashew, pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
- Oil: olive in small quantities.
- Spices: small amounts of basil, coriander, mint, and turmeric.
HABITS THAT ENHANCE THE EFFECT OF DIET
In the tradition of Western Hippocratic medicine, physical exercise and other habits are part of a healthy diet. In Ayurveda it is the same: the diet is the set of routines (vihar) that we carry out during the day to maintain health, in an ideal balance according to the constitution of each person.
- Get up before the sun comes up.
- Make sure a good elimination of your body waste through urine, feces and mucus. You can perform tongue, nasal, intestinal and stomach cleansing routines.
- Apply an oil massage according to your dosha, followed by a relaxing bath.
- Practice yoga, meditation, and breathing and relaxation techniques to gain balance.
- Choose natural (organic if possible), fresh and local foods suitable for your dosha. He prefers freshly cooked meals.
- Eat only when you are hungry and do not fill up: imagine that one third of the stomach is filled with food, another third with liquid and the third is empty.
- Avoid eating if you are emotionally upset. Chew well and do not eat quickly or slowly.
- Do not drink water during meals. It is more advisable to drink water an hour before or two hours after ingestion.
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