Ayurveda, Dosha and Food
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AYURVEDA DOSHA AND FOOD 1
Ayurveda Dosha and Food
Ayurveda is a type of western medicine that has been practiced in India for more than five thousand years. Ayurveda is based on a balance between the mind, the body, and the consciousness. Practitioners of Ayurveda medicine prescribe different herbs along with lifestyle changes, diet, and drinks to maintain this balance and cure ailments. Each person has all three doshas but one or two of them are predominate based on their characteristics. These three different types of dosha are vata, pitta, and kapha. These doshas are based around a person’s personality type and how their body functions. Ayurveda’s different doshas can help guide ones diet by eating food that balance one’s energies to prevent an imbalance or to correct an imbalance between these energies (Ehrlich, 2011).
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The most dominate dosha or doshas of a person is determined by taking a quiz or a questionnaire. Numerous quizzes can be found on the internet or in book about Ayurveda. These quizzes ask questions about physical characteristics, mental health, and relationships with others. No two tests are the same and it may help to take two or more tests to get a more accurate idea of ones predominate dosha or doshas. Once the predominate dosha or doshas have been determined, a meal plan to balance out ones energy can be created (Ehrlich, 2011).
People of the kapha dosha usually have larger bodies and require longer amounts of time to learn subjects but have excellent memories. Kapha energy contributes to body growth and water distribution, keeping skin soft and moist and it also promotes a healthy immune system (Lad, 2003).When people of this dosha are balanced, they are loving and forgiving but when they are out of balance they are insecure and envy others around them. People of the kapha dosha are more likely to become obese or have sinus congestion when they are out of balance. Eating garlic can help circulation and get rid of sinus congestion. Most important for people of the Kapha dosha is that they must get up and move around to prevent against health problems. When planning meals people of the kapha dosha should eat more vegetables to increase their fiber intake and use less oils, fats, and salt when cooking their meals (Chaudhary, 2012).
Other food considerations for people of the kapha dosha are to find foods that limit how much they eat such as filling up with fruits and vegetables before eating the main course of a meal. They should eat fewer grains due to their high caloric content. It is suggested that they consume millet or buckwheat when they do eat grains. All vegetables are good for people of this dosha but they should eat more greens and vegetables grown above the ground. Steaming or stir-frying vegetables help with their digestion. Again because of the high caloric and fat content of meat, people of this dosha should rarely eat meat. Along with this because of their larger body type it is not necessary for people of this dosha to eat large amounts of protein. Pinto bean and black beans are good legumes for people of this dosha to eat. Due to the high oil contents of nuts and seeds they should be avoided along with avoiding dairy products. Honey should be the only sweetener used to sweeten foods however spices can be used liven up the taste of foods. Coffee and tea are beneficial to people of the kapha dosha due to their stimulating properties that help them stay active (Lad, 2003). People of the pitta dosha tend to have a good metabolism and they are intelligent. When their energies are out of balance they tend to have digestive problems such as heartburn, ulcers, or diarrhea. To combat these digestive problems a mixture of aloe vera and pomegranate juice can help correct these problems. Another sign of an unbalanced energy with the kapha dosha is being easily irritated. Some general food preferences for people of this dosha include hot spices, acidic foods, and alcoholic beverages. However these foods should be avoided because of their effects on their digestive system. Foods that people of this dosha are sweet fruits like bananas and vegetables that have large amounts of water like cucumbers and lettuce should be consumed (Chaudhary, 2012).
Other food considerations for people of the pitta dosha are to eat as little meat as possible. It is best for people of this dosha to convert to a vegetarian. Eating whole grains such as oats, wheat, and barley are good for people with sedentary lifestyles. People with this kind of lifestyle should also consume large amounts of vegetables. Certain vegetables though should be avoided due to their spicy and acidic properties such as tomatoes, hot peppers, garlic, and radishes. Most oils help to warm the body when consumed with the exception of coconut oil which helps to cool the body. Coconut oil’s cooling properties can help reduce fevers and help cool the bodies of people that live in hot climates. Dairy products are encouraged for people of this dosha and sweeteners can be added to food such as yogurt. People of the pitta dosha should use sweeteners more the other two doshas because it calms their energy, however spices should be avoided. Due to their tendency to become addicted to substances including caffeine, tobacco and alcohol and should also be avoided. Beer has been shown to aid in relaxation (Lad, 2003).
People of the vata dosha are the smallest framed of the three doshas and may find it hard to gain weight. When a person of the vata dosha is out of balance the can become fearful and anxious. This energy deals with motion systems of the body such as heart rate, breathing, and circulation which contributes to high metabolism of these people and hence making them the smallest built of the three doshas (Chaudhary, 2012). While these people have high metabolisms and have a good circulatory system they have poor digestive systems and can easily become constipated and bloated. Another problem that occurs with people of this dosha is that they become sick easily and catch cold often in the fall and winter months. People of this dosha should avoid raw vegetables, pop, and food such as cereal and chips that are low in fiber. Foods that help the digestion of the vata dosha are warm foods such as soups, cooked vegetables, and nuts. Cooking with ghee, a type of butter, is also recommended for this dosha (Lad, 2003).
Other food considerations for people of the vata dosha are to eat oat, rice and an occasional salad made or cooked with butter or oils. People of the dosha with joints that ache should avoid eating peppers, potatoes, and spinach. Every one of the dosha should avoid eating certain fruits such as apples and cranberries and when fruits are eaten they should be eaten on an empty stomach to aid in digestion. It is suggested that most of the protein intake comes from dairy products but lean meats such as turkey or chicken may also be consumed. It is not suggested that legumes be eaten due to their difficulty to digest. This being said all seeds and nuts are good choices but it may help if they are soaked overnight in water to make them softer and easier to digest (Lad, 2003).
Balancing out meals is important for eat dosha based on taste for a particular dosha. There are six categories of taste. They are sour, bitter, sweet, salty, astringent, and pungent. Each dosha is balanced by a combination of a few of these tastes while others should be avoided because they cause imbalances. The kapha energy is lowered by astringent, pungent, and bitter tastes. Pitta energy is balanced will with sweet, astringent, and bitter tastes. Vata energy is balanced with sweet, salty and sour foods. These different tastes must be included or excluded during meals to prevent imbalances from occurring (Dass, 2004).
Because Ayurveda originated in India many of the spices that are used when preparing foods are native to India. These spices include ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, curry, along with several others. It is believed that these spices aid in digestion, improve appetite, and nourish the bodies organs. Furthermore certain spices can help treat certain diseases. For example Turmeric can aid in the treatment of type two diabetes, infections, and liver problems. It is because of the healing qualities of these spices that men and women who use spices in cooking call their kitchens “kitchen pharmacies” (Dass, 2004).
Research has indicated that increasing tryptophan blood levels in the brain can help improve mood. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and is found in most protein rich foods. Regulation of mood takes place in the brain with different neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, epinephrine, oxytocin, and dopamine. Imbalances of these neurotransmitters can lead to depression and increases in others can make a person feel happy and in love with another person. Research has shown that healthy carbs such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans can increase levels of tryptophan in the blood stream. These health carbohydrates bind to other amino acids that prevent tryptophan from entering the brain. Thus more tryptophan enters the brain and more serotonin is produced. This increase of tryptophan in the brain has been linked to the synthesis of serotonin which improves mood (Magee, 2009).
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By determining a person’s dosha they can learn more about how their personality is affected by the different energies of the three doshas and how what they eat can balance or imbalance these energies. Eating a certain way for some doshas can aid in digestion and for others it can help prevent weight gain. The main reason for keeping a person’s energies balanced is to keep their personality constant and prevent periods of feeling anxious, depressed, or angry (Ehrlich, 2011).
Ayurveda’s different doshas can help guide ones diet by eating food that balance one’s energies to prevent an imbalance or to correct an imbalance between these energies. Ayurveda is a holistic way of preventing and treating disease by balancing out the energies of a person. There are there different doshas in each person. They are kapha, vata, and pitta. One or two of these doshas is predominate in each person and by following guidelines for each dosha a person can live a healthier life with a more stable mood and better digestion, circulation, and metabolism (Ehrlich, 2011).
Chaudhary, K. (2012). The Ayurvedic Diet: Eating for Your Body Type. Retrieved from
Dass, V. (2004). Let Your Food Be Your Medicine: The Ayurvedic Approach to Nutrition.
Retrieved from http://www.bluelotusayurveda.com/oldsite/nutrition_art.html
Ehrlich, S. (2011 October, 2). Ayurveda. Retrieved from http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/treatment/ayurveda
Lad, V. (2003). Ayurveda: A brief introduction and guide. Retrieved from http://www.ayurveda.com/ pdf/intro_ayurveda.pdf
Magee, E. (2009). How Food Affects Your Moods. Retrieved from
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