The Ayurveda diet aims to improve our health and wellbeing by promoting internal balance. But what exactly does that mean, and is it an effective approach? Let’s find out.January 18, 2023 2:46 pm January 30, 2023 2:44 am
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda, meaning the science or knowledge of life in Sanskrit, is a traditional system of medicine that originated in India. Experts believe its roots date back over 3,000 years, making it one of the world’s oldest healthcare systems.(1) It still has a strong following today, with a 2017 survey finding that 77% of Indian households use Ayurvedic products.(2)
This popularity has spread around the globe. For instance, in 2018 the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health estimated that 240,000 American adults used Ayurvedic medicine.(3)
Ayurveda is a holistic system, and believes that our health relies on a balance between mind, body, spirit and environment. One of its tenets is that the universe and everything in it – including us – is made up of five elements. These are water, earth, fire, air, and space or aether. They combine with each other to form the three humours, or doshas, known as vata, kapha and pitta.(4)
According to Ayurveda, we each possess a unique ratio of these doshas. This forms your prakriti, or constitution. As well as influencing our personality, doshas are responsible for our overall wellness. Any imbalance may lead to health problems.
Although Ayurveda does incorporate curative measures, it mostly focuses on preventative care. In other words, the aim is to maintain wellbeing and avoid disease in the first place. In addition to medicines, Ayurveda involves therapies such as yoga, massage, and meditation.
Then, of course, there’s diet. Ayurveda rightly believes that the food we eat has a significant impact on our health. Unlike the common western notion of ‘diet’, an Ayurvedic diet doesn’t focus on weight loss. Instead, it aims to balance the different types of energy within the body in order to stay healthy.
What is an Ayurveda diet?
An Ayurvedic diet is one facet of the broader Ayurveda system. It sets out guidelines on the types of foods you should eat based on your dominant dosha, or energy type. The idea is that this will enable you to achieve inner balance between all three doshas and maintain good health.
So, what is Ayurveda diet mentality? Unlike many fad diets, it doesn’t dictate a strict meal plan that everyone must follow. Instead, it makes suggestions about what foods are right (and wrong) for you personally. Therefore, the first step to take is figuring out your individual constitution.
Ayurveda believes that while everybody has features of all three doshas, most people have one or two dominant ones. This is a fixed ratio that we cannot change. It affects your physical build and personality, as well as your ideal diet.
Determining your dominant dosha
One way to discover your dominant dosha is to visit an experienced Ayurveda practitioner. However, it’s also possible to work it out for yourself based on descriptions of each one. So, take a look at the following and see which you think matches you most closely.(5) Remember that it could be a combination of more than one.
This dosha consists of the air and space elements. People with a dominant vata dosha tend to be creative, flexible, lively, and intelligent. They are also easily distracted, prone to anxiety, and experience changeable moods. Physically, vatas usually have a slim build, and may suffer from fatigue and digestive issues.
This dosha consists of the earth and water elements. People with a dominant kapha dosha tend to be calm, loyal, patient, and caring. They are also fond of routine, prone to depression, and may struggle with motivation. Physically, kaphas often have a sturdier build, and may suffer from weight gain and sluggishness.
This dosha consists of the fire and water elements. People with a dominant pitta dosha tend to be intelligent, hard-working, confident, and strong-willed. They are also impatient, competitive, and prone to conflict. Physically, pittas commonly have a medium, muscular build, and may suffer from inflammation and high blood pressure.