Ayurveda is the ancient Indian health system

March 11, 2013 - News

By Geeta Chopra
Special to SAF
Ayurveda is the ancient Indian Health system, which uses the inherent principles of nature to assist the body’s natural response of healing its own self.  It keeps the natural equilibrium of the individual’s which includes body, mind and spirit.  It is a Sanskrit word which means knowledge of life.
Ayurveda is based on the premise that the universe is made up of five elements: air, fire, water, earth and ether. These elements are represented in humans by three “doshas“, or energies: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
Each one of us has a primary element (dosha) which embodies our entire personae; physical mental and spiritual.  It is very important to keep our dosha’s in Balance.  The primary aim of Ayurveda is to maintain the balance in our dosha’s at all times.  When and element becomes excessive or lacking in us in an imbalanced way – disease is born.  Therefore it is essential to eat in accordance with your dosha.

Vata pertains to air.  This energy is generally seen as the force, which directs nerve impulses, circulation, respiration, and elimination.  Vata people are small framed with straight hair and tend to feel dry.
Kapha pertains to water and earth elements. Kapha is responsible for growth and protection. The mucosal lining of the stomach, and the cerebral-spinal fluid that protects the brain and spinal column are examples of kapha.   Kapha people are well developed with wavy hair and tend to feel humid.
Pitta pertains to fire and water elements. This dosha governs metabolism, e.g., the transformation of foods into nutrients. Pitta is also responsible for metabolism in the organ and tissue systems.   Pitta people are medium built and tend to feel warmer.  They have excellent digestion.

I will outline the Winter foods and herbs that are fitting for each dosha.
VATA:  Sweet, sour and salty tastes.  Heavy grounding foods such as potatoes, lentils, tofu, zucchini, lentils, thick stews, sesame oil, ghee, olive oil, avocado’s, banana’s, milk, yogurt, nuts and seeds.
Spices:  cumin, mustard seeds, coriander, fenugreek, salt, cilantro and cinnamon. Avoid bitter & dry foods such as apples.
Avoid:  Salad, or raw vegetables, sprouts or cabbage gas (vata) forming foods such as heavy beans (kidney + chick pea).
KAPHA:  Light, dry, pungent, bitter tastes.  Leafy greens, barley, granola, rye, Aloe Vera juice,  light dairy, lighter meats – if any, apples, dried fruits, pomegranate, dried figs.
Spices: Cardamom, black pepper, ginger, garlic, turmeric, cloves, cinnamon, cumin, coriander, mint nutmeg.  All herbal teas.
Avoid: red meat, cheese, caffeine, avocados and bananas.
PITTA  Cooling tastes.  Cold foods such as avocado’s, sweet potatoes, fish, cucumber, coconut oil, coconut water, apricots, bananas, cherries, papayas, peaches, strawberries, cranberries, dates, figs, grapes, melons, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers, lettuce, mushrooms, okra, peas.  cauliflower, cilantro (fresh), sunflower sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, celery. coconut, sunflower seeds.
Spices:   coriander., cilantro, fennel. cardamom, cumin, mint, turmeric, basil.
Avoid: grapefruit, lemons. apples, pomegranates. cloves, fenugreek, ginger, sea salt, asafetida, black pepper, cayenne, horseradish, mustard seeds, garlic (raw).
All foods and drinks have an energy to them.  Be cognizant of the energy of the food you ingest – as it should compliment your dosha.  For example, because fish lives in the ocean, its energy is one of coldness (good for pitta)   Similarly, because red chili’s are excessively heating for the blood, they possess energies of anger and burning.  Oil is always sinks to the lowest place possible and has a nature of consistency, therefore its energy is very grounding and stable (good for vata).   Mango’s are sweet and humble; nourishing to all dosha’s/  Similarly because cheese ferments in your body and turns into ama (undigested waste), it is not acceptable for any dosha.