The Ayurvedic Diet

The Ayurvedic diet is less of a weight loss fad and more of a lifestyle for health. Based on ancient practices in India, ayurveda recommends foods and activities based on your body type. Here's what you should know.

Followers of ayurveda believe that people fall into one of three body types, called doshas. These doshas have characteristics that make them best suited for particular foods and behaviors. Many people are a blend of two doshas, but selecting the predominant one will lead to better health and happiness.

The Ayurvedic diet divides food into 6 categories: astringent, bitter, pungent, salty, sour and sweet. Eat of these food groups has a particular benefit. The astringent flavor provides balance to salty foods. The bitter flavor purifies. Pungent foods clear your sinuses and your mind. Salty foods aid digestion. Sour flavors energize and nourish. Sweet flavors strengthen and extend life.

The Kapha dosha is the largest body type.  People of the kapha dosha are broad across the hips and shoulders. Their hair is full, thick and often curly. Kaphas tend to have good endurance and enjoy a placid and stable outlook on life.

When a kapha is not eating correctly, typical maladies include sluggishness, sinus issues and circulatory problems. Proper eating focuses on eating smaller meals, especially foods that are light, dry, hot and strongly spiced. Avoid diary, wheat and most oils. Physical exercise is particularly important for the kapha dosha.

The Pitta dosha is common in people in people of medium build. They enjoy good muscle tone and high energy. Their digestion is quite accommodating, so pitta doshas can tolerate pretty much all foods. They are mentally quick and emotionally charged.

A diet out of balance for the pitta dosha can cause inflammation, acid reflux, ulcers and headaches. Good foods for the pitta dosha are cool and dry, with mild flavors, like rice, beans, milk and steamed veggies. Avoid pungent or oily foods, alcohol, coffee and foods with a lot of spice.

The Vata dosha is common in people with slender builds. With little body fat, they tend to be cold most of the time and suffer from dry skin and hair. They are fast learners and enthusiastic about new ideas.

When someone with a vata dosha is out of balance, they can suffer from poor digestion, fatigue, insomnia and sinus issues.  They should eat warm, mild foods, especially soups, dairy, wheat, rice and corn. People with a vata dosha should avoid raw vegetables, spicy foods, brown rice, alcohol and tea.

How can you determine your dosha? There are many online quizzes that can quickly figure that out. One good example is here. Once you know your dasha you can adjust your eating to emphasize your positive foods and minimize your negative foods. There are many good cookbooks to help you on your journey. Once your diet gets in sync with your dasha, there's no telling what good things can happen!

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