Ayurveda is the ancient medical system of India. It offers one of the fastest paths to health. Instead of having to guess which foods, supplements, and behaviors are appropriate for you, there is a simple, direct prescriptive path that is developed for your unique body type or dosha. This takes all the guesswork out of getting healthy. The three ayurvedic body types, or doshas, are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Most people are a combination of two doshas, but one typically predominates. Each dosha has a unique set of characteristics, temperaments, and physical types depending on their proportion in the individual. Vata individuals are wind-dominated, Pitta is bile-dominated, and Kapha is mucus-dominated. Each of the dosha types is given recommendations for foods to avoid and foods to consume that are intended to work with the body type to maintain good health.
Some overarching Ayurvedic principles include
- In Ayurveda, foods are classified into six tastes--sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. Ayurvedic healers recommend that all of these six tastes be included at every meal. Each taste lends balance so including some of each can minimize cravings and enhance digestion.
- In general, the standard American diet has too many sweet, sour, and salty tastes and lacks bitter, pungent, and astringent foods. Chutneys and spice mixes are ways to include a variety of tastes.
- Foods are also categorized as heavy or light, dry or oily (including too liquid), and warm or cool (temperature). Different qualities balance different doshas. A balanced main meal should contain some foods of each physical type with varying proportions based on individual constitution needs, the season, and the climate.
- A third Ayurvedic classification of food is by the effect they have on the non-physical aspects of the person: mind, heart, and spirit.
- Sattvic foods (fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, honey, and mung beans) promote clear thinking and emotional balance
- Rajasic foods (fried and overly spiced foods) are more stimulating and can disturb aspects of the mind, heart, or senses
- Tamasic foods (heavily processed, old or stale; also meats and liquor) lead to lethargy and are considered a barrier to spiritual growth.