Ayurveda is an ancient holistic system of medicine that originated on the Indian subcontinent. Ayurvedic medicine ranges across the whole field of medicinal needs, traditionally including diet, general medicine, pediatrics, surgery, herbal tonics, toxicology, and spirit possession. Modern medicine is now catching up to many of these concepts; however, some extend beyond our current understanding. One of the aspects of this science that we can take hold of and use right now to improve health and longevity is the ayurvedic diet.
Your Dosha type
According to ayurveda, all of matter is composed of five elements: space, fire, air, earth, and water. These five elements combine into three basic life forces or doshas. The three doshas are vata, pitta and kapha. The force of vata is composed of the elements space and air. The dosha termed pitta is a combination of fire and water. The final dosha, kapha, is formed by water and earth. In ayurvedic philosophies, each of us has varying proportions of these doshas, usually with one or two predominating. Our dosha is our natural body type and sticks with us from birth. But different circumstances can cause an imbalance in these doshas. Health and harmony of both mind and body is challenged when these doshas become imbalanced.
Each of these doshas corresponds to a specific type of body and personality. The vata type is slim, creative, and sensitive, with dry skin and preferring warm, humid climates. The pitta dosha results in a medium, muscular build, fair skin, a productive, hard-working energy, and a tendency to become irritable. Those with this type tend to prefer cold climates. The kapha dosha results in a heavier build with oily skin, a stable and methodical approach, an easy-going attitude, and a preference for warm, dry climates. Some people have a strong balance of two doshas, while others have a balance of all three.
Each of these body types has different needs and benefits from a different diet. Also, each of these types can be imbalanced by lifestyle, environments stresses, excesses, diet, and toxins. Ayurvedic medicine uses herbal remedies, warm oil massages, yoga, and lifestyle changes to bring our bodies back into balance. The most accessible lifestyle changes we can use to address these imbalances are adjustments in diet.
The ayurvedic diet identifies six tastes: salty, sweet, bitter, sour, pungent, and astringent. Each of these tastes energizes or pacifies a particular dosha. For example, spicy foods will strengthen our pitta, while sweet foods will strengthen our kapha. Knowing a bit about the ayurvedic diet helps you to use taste as medicine.
In the next blog, we explore imbalances of each dosha and the foods that you can eat to balance them out.
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