Hello Health and Wellness Seeker,
“According to Ayurvedic principles, by understanding oneself, by identifying one’s own constitution, and by recognizing sources of doshic aggravation, one can not only follow the proper guidelines to cleanse, purify, and prevent disease, but also uplift oneself into a realm of awareness previously unknown.”
~ Dr. Vasant Lad
Do you know how food can change our personality and relationships?
Welcome to the Self-Care Goddess Podcast Episode #47 with Sarah Kruse once again! In this podcast we talk about the 3 Ayurvedic constitutions Vata, Kapha and Pitta in detail. When you know your constitution, and thus your strengths and challenges, you can design your diet, daily routines and habits to regain and maintain a state of health and balance throughout the seasons and your life. It is through knowing yourself that you become your own healer.
To learn more and understand how your Ayurvedic constitution can bring more Self-Awareness and Self-Compassion, listen here to the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.
Understanding Your Dosha
Here is a summary of the 3 doshas, the food & climatic conditions that are best suited to each dosha and the qualities / behaviors prevalent in them.
Vata people have more dryness and lightness in their constitution. When there is a dry quality prevalent in the body, simply apply the opposite quality which is wet or oily. If you tend to have dry joints or dry skin or dry constipation, bringing in more hydration internally and topically can remedy it quickly. According to the Self-Healing principle of Ayurveda we can bring in foods that nourish those qualities that are opposites. Avoid dry food like popcorn, chips, crackers and avoid raw and cold foods as well. Many Vata dominant people love popcorn and crackers but it may cause insomnia and increase the dryness. Sarah advises food that are more cooked, soupy, warm and well spiced for the Vata person. Comfort food like a bowl of soup or oatmeal is recommended for Vata. According to Ayurveda we must try many different spices to bring flavor and enhance digestion.
For more information on The Role of Herbs in Holistic Healing listen to the Self-Care Goddess podcast episodes #19 & #20 with Chris Lamont on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.
Vata dosha can handle most spices so they can consume well spiced food. Foods from the earth such as root vegetables, proteins and mushrooms are also good for Vata dosha. Adding fats, oils, nuts and seeds are very nourishing and balancing for Vata. Sarah advises to minimize the cruciferous vegetables when out of balance because they can cause joint issues like stiffness or inflammation in Vata dominant people. So, reduce the intake of tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers, cabbage, cauliflower, brussel, sprouts and broccoli because while they’re very nutritious, they are dry and gas forming for Vata. If a Vata person loves broccoli and cauliflower, instead of eating them raw, ensure it is well cooked and add a little oil with ginger, pepper and lime juice. This will aid digestion. For symptoms such as gas bloating, constipation, dry skin or achy joints in Vata, changing how we cook food can make a big difference in how the person feels. If a Vata person would consider a liquid fast to detox, the best suited drink is diluted fresh grape juice.
I invite you to listen to the Self-Care Goddess podcast episode #8 “Fasting, Keto & Keto Flexing for Overall Health, Weight Loss & Longevity” with Ben Azadi on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast
A common quality that Pitta experiences is heat. Their primarily elements are fire and water. To balance the excess heat in the body simply bringing in cooling pranayama, cooling foods, cooling practices and swimming in cool bodies of water which can help balance the fires of Pitta dosha. The Pitta dosha can be repelled or aggravated by too much heat. When we think about really nourishing their appetite it’s important that a Pitta person never skips a meal, especially lunch. It is jokingly said ‘never talk to a Pitta person until they’ve eaten’ because otherwise things might get a little edgy. Taking care that Pitta stay well fed and hydrated is important as they tend to have a more voracious appetite compare to the other doshas. A rapid metabolism allows them to usually eat a lot and not gain weight as easily as a Kapha dosha person could. They usually have a medium frame athletic constitution and can tolerate most food groups. While it sounds heavenly, they still have things to consider with their nutrition. With the fire element, Pitta can tend more toward inflammation in the gut and in the tissues or even the skin so nutrition is really important for them. Pitta should avoid hot, spicy food & excess red meat. Pitta people tend to require more protein for their constitution because they are burning more rapidly and tend to be more active and engaged. Sarah recommends the leaner proteins with less fat, like white meat or lighter fish, lentils, legumes, and tofu. Sometimes dairy protein can also be fine depending on each person’s unique body’s affinity to digest. Also important for Pitta is to consume sweet and juicy fruits and vegetables that are in season like cherries, peaches, plums, grapes and green leafy veggies like summer squash which is a really balancing for Pitta. Coconut is a wonderful food, Sarah says that when in doubt, add more coconut, cilantro and lime to balance Pitta. These will help cool down the food. When on a liquid detox, diluted pomegranate juice is best for the Pitta person.
Want to know The Connection Between Genes, Diet, & Lifestyle Habits for Optimal Weight Loss & Gut Health? Listen to the Self-Care Goddess podcast Episode #10 with Dr. Breanne Kallonen on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.
Kapha the third dosha is made up of earth and water. They have a natural affinity towards heat. When they have coffee, they tend to feel more like self, can relax, enjoy and thrive. Kapha can get a little sluggish or lethargic. The act of eating, cooking and serving food to others is immensely pleasurable for a Kapha person. Kapha loves a beautiful table and the ambiance and food presentation are important to them. When sometimes Kapha’s can overeat, it leads to a sluggish digestion and metabolism.
Kapha tends to have heaviness or sometimes mucus in the lungs and chest, so Sarah recommends not to eat food rich in dairy products and avoid sweet. Ice cream, rice pudding or sweetened yogurt while often loved by Kapha people, can bring them out of balance quickly. Sarah recommends going for the dairy alternatives like nut milks as much as possible. Just reducing dairy and sugar or eliminating / replacing them will help the Kapha person feel lighter in their body, clearer and more energetic. While Pitta needs to keep an eye on the spices to not get overheated; Kapha does better to add more spice to their food because they tend to have heaviness or sluggishness in their body. One of Sarah’s favorite spices for Kapha is ginger. Adding bits of chopped up ginger as a garnish to food, or having a cup of ginger tea alongside their meal helps digest and feel really warm and satisfied.
The Kapha person can drink diluted apple juice and just sip on that with some other electrolytes throughout the whole day while fasting.
Here are 10 general Ayurveda tips for healthy digestion discussed in this podcast:
- Don’t drink milk cold. It is advised to drink warm milk with turmeric for multiple health benefits.
- For the purpose of supporting digestion opt for the fresher cheeses rather than the aged cheese. Go for goat cheese or mozzarella rather than aged cheddar or brie, which are heavier on the gut in general for everybody, especially Kapha dosha.
- When choosing dairy going for the lighter ones or add some spices to them. For example if you eat pizza with cheese on it, then sprinkle a little bit of black pepper and basil to help digest it and offset the dairy heaviness.
- For optimal digestion for all three doshas, aim to get all six tastes in your main meal of the day. They are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. The pungent category would be black pepper, ginger, garlic, onion, red chilies etc. with pungent spicy flavors. Foods that are astringent would be all legumes, soy beans and lentils.
- If it’s time for a meal, but for some reason you don’t have an appetite; an Ayurveda remedy is to take a slice of fresh ginger, a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lime juice and chew it up until it becomes liquefied. Swallow that and this will give your digestive fire a quick jumpstart. It’s instantaneous and gets you ready to eat.
- Snacking and drinking too much water – especially cold water or over drinking liquids can negatively impact digestion and reduce the digestive fire. Too much cold beverage puts out that Agni or digestive fire in our body. Rather sip on room temperature or warm water / tea throughout the day.
- Keep fruit separate from protein. If you eat protein and fruit in the same meal, that can create toxins in the body. Sarah recommends to have fruit 15 to 30 minutes before a meal, or after a meal, but not right with the protein for optimal digestion.
- Fasting is an amazing way to digest and metabolize food or toxins in the body so that they don’t have a chance to build up and accumulate.
- The amount of food one should eat according to the ancient Ayurvedic text is literally your two hands kept together slightly rounded as if you’re scooping up water. This is the ideal amount of food for most people at an average meal. This tip can be helpful for Kapha to keep in mind because they may not always get the signal that it’s time to stop eating.
- Eat your main meals at around the same time every day honoring the daily rhythms. For optimal functioning of our hormones, our energy and our health we must eat at similar times every day.
Take Home Message
It is helpful to know your own constitution for the purpose of choosing which foods to eat, which practices to do, which herbs to take, which place to live in the world or even styles of music to prefer. Ayurveda gives a lot of attention to our digestion and nutrition, not only what we eat, but how we eat being equally important. As we learn to recognize and welcome the healing gifts from Ayurveda, we can experience perfect health, bliss and freedom in each moment.
I invite you to connect with Sarah and visit her website and find out if you’re more predominant in Vata, Pitta, or Kapha and benefit from the suggested remedies or practices to balance your constitution.
I invite you to listen to the first podcast with Sarah Kruse “Embrace Ayurveda to Ignite YOUR Life”; Episode #43 on Self-Care Goddess Podcast.