“We Are What We Eat” Series, Part V, Finito!

Today we summarize this series on the diet’s Ayurvedic dimensions and role in maintaining good health and preventing disease.  In Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Lord Kṛṣṇa compares Himself with the digestive fire, or agni, which assimilates and digests food in order to sustain Life.

God's secrets

Though diet plays a vital role in Ayurveda’s healing modality, these “rules” flex and bend gracefully according to the transient nature of living in your particular body.  Your constitutional make up (prakriti) is unique as are your current needs for balance (vikriti); thus, your dietary needs are also unique.  You will not find pre-set body weights or calorie counting instructions in Ayurvedic Dietary Theory.  You will find recommendations for listening to the voice of your physiology to hear what, where, when and how you should eat.  You will find instructions to include the six different tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent – at every meal, favoring those tastes that are suited to your current needs and incorporating lesser amounts of the rest.  Including different tastes at each meal reduces cravings and balances appetite and digestion naturally, providing clear instructions via the senses, supported by the voice of your own physiology.

Food influences both physical activities and psychological activities.  Agni requires food to maintain the body’s constant activity, much like a furnace providing heat in exchange for the life of a tree; the body of Earth.  Improper, excessive, heavy, and cold food extinguishes this fire and produces endotoxic substances called Ama.  For supplementation, Tattva’s Herbs offers Ginger, Triphala, Chyawanprash and Trikatu to stoke the fire of Agni.

The Ayurvedic way of cooking brings together a harmonious collection of fresh wholesome ingredients into a feast for all your senses.  In a well-prepared Ayurvedic meal, a medley of tastes, textures, colors, aromas and flavors blend together to restore balance to your body, mind, spirit, senses and emotions.

Indian colored spices at local market.

“We Are What We Eat” Series, Part III

Sukti amongst the Mexican flowersSukti amongst the Mexican Flowers

Ayurveda approaches health through diet based on eight simple concepts – these are the second four:

Five: Place (Desha)

The classification of Places into distinct types, for example; marshy, dry and normal, reflects diverse climatic conditions and their influence on the body when she eats.  As the individual perceives a complimentary environment, the body absorbs nutrients from food with ease, which in turn exerts positive effects on both body and mind.

Six: Time or Period (Kala)

Food consumed at proper intervals gives the body freedom to digest and assimilate. Once a meal is properly digested, the next meal may be eaten. Types of foods eaten, as well as quantities and quality should conform to seasonal changes, both in environment and availability. As a general rule, the main meal should be eaten between 11 to 2 in the afternoon.

Seven:  Rules for Eating (Upayoga Sanstha)

• Food should be consumed while hot, as this will naturally increase the secretion of the digestive enzymes.
• Meals must be eaten in a relaxed, calm and cheerful atmosphere. One should not eat when nervous, angry, anxious or in a disturbed state of mind.
• Eating too slowly or too rapidly, talking, laughing, thinking or watching television during meals is not advisable.
• Putting one’s attention on the food with the thought that this food is going to benefit the body and mind, does indeed benefit the body and mind!
• Smoking, drinking too much water or any other liquid after eating, is not advisable.
• Taking a shower and changing into clean clothes prior to cooking, creates a pleasing feeling in the body condusive to healthy assimilation of foods.
• In the Indian social environment, a guest is treated like a god. Food is served to guests and children first.
• Chanting of mantras and offering prayers to God adds a beautiful ritual space to the atmosphere, as Gratitude adds her benefit on every level.

Eight:  The Consumer of the Food (Upabhokta )

If one observes the above mentioned, eating as per his/her constitution, digestive capacity, season, time of the day and digestion status of the last meal consumed, then the Body has upmost opportunity to make thorough use of the Blessing of Food provided.

The “We Are What We Eat” Series, Part II

Ayurveda approaches health through diet based on eight simple concepts, the first four of which we will expound upon today:

One: The Nature of Food (Prakruti)

Classification of food into two distinct categories of heavy and light depends on digestability. For example, meat is heavy for digestion while rice and vegetables are light. This is the basic quality or nature of any food recipe and should be thought about before consuming.

Two: Processing (Karana)

Cooked food is considered more nutritious than uncooked food. However, some foods like fruits and salads give greater benefit when eaten raw.  The method of processing or cooking transforms the qualities of our food, i.e., roasting, frying, baking, directly heating on fire, barbeque, mixing, drying, churning, etc.

Three: Combination (Samyoga)

carrot lovers

While one combination of foods nourish and heal the body, another will weaken and break it down.  Combining sour fruits with milk or curd, for example, weakens the digestive system by causing chronic indigestion. Therefore, in Ayurveda we pay close attention to how and why we combine our foods.

Four: Quantity (Rashi)

The quantity of the individual ingredients as well as the total quantity of food consumed by an individual should be decided according to the qualities of the food as well as the individual’s digestive capacity.

The “We Are What We Eat” Series, Part I

sun grapes

Within Ayurveda, we are what we eat, with primary importance placed on the foods we choose in our daily lives. Cultivating a healthy diet nourishes the body’s vitality, as well as the mind and spirit. According to Ayurveda, a healthy human being possesses both a strong body and a sound mind.

A nutritious diet helps balance the three doshas and promote good health. Ayurveda classifies various types of food like vegetables, fruits, nuts, dairy and grains on the basis of their energies and effect on the body and mind. These classifications help us choose foods according to our individual constitution, and avoid foods that may be harmful.  In todays’ hurried modern lifestyle, irregular eating habits and excessive consumption of particular foods is common.  We often consume excess of certain foods that are harmful for us.  Ayurveda suggests ‘antidotes’ or balancing factors for such excesses. These factors help control the negative effects of food we overeat and balance our systems.

Though Ayurvedic literature provides detailed therapies and complex drug formulas for treating most diseases, prevention of disease is the heart of Ayurvedic Medicine. When the fundamental rules of personal and social hygiene are followed closely, building up immunity against most ailments is an achievable task, even in today’s modern lifestyle.

light and dark grapes

A healthy person is defined in the Ayurvedic scriptures as the one who not only possesses the balanced Tridoshas, but who also exhibits a balance of emotions, intellect and a sense of peace.  Diet is given highest importance in health as well as disease. Ancient Indian literature states that when proper diet is followed, medicine is not needed, and when proper diet is not observed, medicines are not helpful.

Variations on Basic Basmati Rice – A staple of the Ayurvedic yogic diet

basmati riceAs stated earlier, rice is featured heavily in the Ayurvedic yogic diet. In India most meals are served with basmati rice, a light and aromatic long-grain variety with a cooling effect on the body. It has a balancing effect on the digestive system and soothes the nervous system. Basmati rice is good for calming an irritated gut and it is easier to digest than brown rice.

When taken with a little ghee, it is considered tridoshic. Lighter than many other grains, it can be eaten by those with high Kapha; it’s cooling, sweet and moist which is very good for those with a Pitta constitution, and the sweet moist attributes also help to balance Vata.

Adding a couple of cloves of garlic to the rice when cooking normally helps to gently warm the slight coolness of the grain.

Turmeric Rice

turmeric riceWash rice in cold water several times to remove much of the starch, changing the water until it is clear. For 1 cup of rice, bring 1¾ cup of water to boil. Add the rice, a Tbsp. of ghee, ½ tsp. turmeric powder and a pinch of salt to taste. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, by which time all the water should be absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing the lid.

Rice pilaf with vegetables

rice pilafWash 1 cup rice in cold water several times to remove much of the starch, changing the water until it is clear. Set aside, and melt 2 Tbsp ghee or coconut oil in pot. Stir in:

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 ½ tsp fenugreek

1 ½ tsp mustard seeds

Cook on medium heat until mustard seeds pop, then add ¼ – ½ tsp chilis, cooking just till browned. Add the rice, ½ tsp. turmeric powder, ½ tsp coriander powder and 1 tsp of salt. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes. Add ½- ¾ cup diced vegetables of your choice ie: fresh peas, carrots, green beans, broccoli, asparagus are all vegetables that compliment the rice. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Let sit a few minutes, stir gently before serving.

Optional: Add 1 Tbsp. butter to the cooked mixture after turning the heat off.

Basic Basmati Rice – A staple of the Ayurvedic yogic diet

basmati riceRice is featured heavily in the Ayurvedic yogic diet. In India most meals are served with basmati rice, a light and aromatic long-grain variety with a cooling effect on the body . It has a balancing effect on the digestive system and soothes the nervous system. Basmati rice is good for calming an irritated gut and it is easier to digest than brown rice.

When taken with a little ghee, it is considered tridoshic. Lighter than many other grains, it can be eaten by those with high Kapha; it’s cooling, sweet and moist which is very good for those with a Pitta constitution, and the sweet moist attributes also help to balance Vata.

Adding a couple of cloves to the rice when cooking normally helps to gently warm the slight coolness of the grain. Wash rice in cold water several times to remove much of the starch (which aggravates Vata), changing the water until it is clear.

Bring just under twice the volume of water to the rice to boil, adding the rice, a Tbsp. of ghee and a pinch of salt to taste. Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes, by which time all the water should be absorbed. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for 5 minutes before removing the lid.

Green Beans Side Dish

Green Beans Side Dish

* 2 cups chopped green beans
* 2 tablespoon olive oil or ghee
* 2 tsp brown or black mustard seeds
* 1/2 tsp hing (asafetida) (optional)
* A few red pepper flakes
* 2 tsp lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp turmeric
* 1 tsp minced ginger
* 1 tsp black pepper
* Rock or sea salt to taste
* 2 tbsp white sesame seeds
* 4 tbsp fresh grated coconut
* 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
Steam the beans for 10 minute. In a non-stick pan, heat the olive oil.
Add the hing, if using, and the mustard seeds.
As the seeds start popping, add the beans, turmeric, minced ginger, lemon juice, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes and sauté for a few minutes. Beans should be tender but not mushy. Reduce heat to low.
In another pan, toast the sesame seeds for a few minutes until they turn light brown.
Transfer beans to a serving dish. Top with the sesame seeds, grated coconut and cilantro and serve warm with whole grain bread and lentils.
(Serves 3–4)

Note: This is especially good for Kapha types

Ayurvedic Recipe of the Day – 11/23/09

Tridoshic Vegetable Curry

vegetable-curry

Preperation time: 1 hour

-Vata, -Pitta, -Kapha

Serves: 9-10

From The Ayurvedic Cookbook, written by Amadea Morningstar with Urmila Desai

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh green peas (frozen if necessary)
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup potatoes, diced
  • 2 cups string beans or asparagus, cut in 1 inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons sunflower oil or ghee
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons black mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 cup yogurt

Heat oil of ghee in large heavy skillet. Add mustard and cumin seeds. Then the mustard seeds pop, add turmeric. Then add all the vegetables and the water. (If using frozen peas, do not add until rest of vegetables are nearly done.) Cook covered until the vegetables become tender, about 15-20 minutes. Then add yogurt and the rest of the ingredients, stirring well. Simmer uncovered on low heat for another 15-20 minutes.

Comments: Good with Cucumber Raita and lime pickle for Vata. Serve over rice or other grain. This easy-to-prepare curry is likely to garner you rave reviews. The cooling qualities of the peas and potatoes are offset by the other vegetables and the curry spices. This small amount of yogurt, thinned with water, is usually tolerated well by all the doshas and aids digestion. Whenever you can, use tender fresh, rather than frozen peas, as they are more balancing for Kapha and Vata.

Factors that Affect Our Health

Written by Dr. Vasant Lad , The Ayurvedic Institute , 1994

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Ayurveda is a way of healing and a way of life that always takes into consideration the whole person. According to the teachings of Ayurveda, every aspect of your life contributes to your overall health. Poor health seldom has a simple or single cause. This chapter will cover just a few of the things that may affect one’s well-being. Some factors will respond to changes, like diet, and some are beyond individual control, like the weather. With the latter, there are actions that can be taken to reduce or eliminate the impact. Of course, it is not possible or wise to try to change everything at once. Ayurvedic literature states slow and steady is the best route to successful change. Most people find that diet is the best place to begin an Ayurvedic lifestyle.

The Doshas

One’s sense of well-being reflects the inner state of health. Good health is the maintenance of one’s unique combination of the doshas, a balanced condition of agni, of the seven body tissues, of the three waste systems (urine, sweat and feces), as well as balance in the mind, senses and consciousness. It is equally important to one’s well-being to have love, happiness and clarity in daily living.

Doshic imbalance governs internal biochemical changes that will eventually lead to either high or low metabolism.

Pitta dosha governs all physical and biochemical changes that take place within the body. Through this process foodstuffs are transformed into energy, heat and vitality. Pitta performs these functions throughout one’s life, but is especially prominent during the adult years. All these activities of pitta depend upon “digestive fire” or agni. Poor agni means poor health. Wrong diet such as hot spicy foods, wrong life style such as living in a hot climate and repressed emotions can alter the normal function of pitta.

Anabolism is the process of building up of the body. It is the repair, growth and creation of new cells. This is managed by kapha and is most active in the baby, child and teen years. Kapha dosha can be disturbed by excessive intake of dairy, cold and oily foods.

Catabolism is the destructive, but necessary, stage of metabolism. Larger molecules are broken down into smaller ones. This molecular death is governed by vata dosha and is most active in old age. Repeated intake of vata-provoking food, such as salads and popcorn, and over-exercising can escalate vata and disturb health.

Improper Eating Habits

1 Overeating
2 Eating soon after a full meal
3 Too much water or no water during a meal
4 Drinking very chilled water during a meal or, indeed, anytime
5 Eating when constipated
6 Eating at the wrong time of day–either too early or too late
7 Eating too much heavy food or too little light food
8 Drinking fruit juice or eating fruit with a meal
9 Eating without real hunger
10 Emotional eating
11 Eating incompatible food combinations
12 Snacking in between meals

Time of Day and Time of Season

The body’s biological clock is regulated by the doshas. The time of maximum activity of kapha is during early morning and early evening, 6-10 a.m. and 6-10 p.m. The pitta period is during midday and midnight, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and 10 p.m.-2 a.m., while vata hours are dawn and dusk, 2-6 a.m. and 2-6 p.m. Thus a pitta-type disease, like ulcers, may cause the most discomfort late at night in the pitta time of the bio-clock. The reverse is also true, in the sense that experiencing a sharp pain in the stomach region late at night may signify ulcers or another pitta-type aggravation.

After food is ingested, it passes through various stages of digestion, each one involving a specific dosha. To digest one major meal takes 6 to 8 hours. For approximately two-and-a-half hours after eating food, the dominant dosha is kapha, which is associated with the stomach. Roughly two-and-a-half hours later, the pitta dosha is dominant. This period and doshaare associated with the small intestine, where bile and intestinal enzymes are at work. Ultimately, the digestion is completed in the colon, the predominant site of vata, where absorption and elimination occurs. This stage is a time of vata domination. Gas, a quality of vata, will often occur here if food is not properly digested.

The seasons have attributes much like the three doshasand can cause aggravation and imbalance. For instance, the summer is hot, sharp and bright which provokes pitta. So pitta. diseases like sunburn, hot flashes, exhaustion, acne and diarrhea may occur. Psychologically, people may respond to trifles with anger and hate.

Autumn is dry, light, cold, clear and windy, all aggravating qualities to vata dosha. Aches and pains in the joints and muscles may materialize, and the mind may become fearful, anxious and lonely.

The heavy, cold, dampness of winter can provoke kapha , leading to cough, cold and sinus congestion. Attachment and greed may develop in the mind when kapha is aggravated.

The watery quality of spring also provokes kapha and some people will tend to have spring colds, allergies and respiratory ailments at this time.

The change from one season to another may require shifting one’s diet for a period of time to restore balance.

Getting The Right Amount of Exercise

Exercise, too, should be in harmony with the specific constitution. Kapha individuals can perform the most strenuous exercise, pitta a medium amount and vata the gentlest. Aerobics, swimming, fast walking and biking are all good exercise for pitta and kapha but not for vata. Vata tends to love jumping and jogging, but exercises like yoga, stretching and Tai Chi are better choices. For people with serious vataand pitta disorders and for those whose age is over 80 or under 10, exercise should be very gentle. Walking is probably the best exercise of all for any constitution.

Even for a healthy individual, Ayurveda suggests a workout that is one-half of one’s capacity, just until sweat appears on the forehead, under the arms and along the spinal column. This amount of exercise stimulates gastric fire, improves digestion and relieves constipation, as well as inducing relaxation and sound sleep. Sweating helps to eliminate toxins, reduce fat and make you feel good. Over-exercising may cause dehydration and breathlessness, even chest pain and muscle aches, eventually leading to arthritis, sciatica or heart conditions.

Choosing a Balanced Lifestyle

Lifestyle has its own definite rhythm in each person’s life. Waking too early or late, irregular food habits, staying up late, job stress, untimely bowel movements and suppression of natural urges are a few habits that can unsettle one. Regularity in sleeping, waking, eating and elimination, indeed following a daily routine, brings discipline and helps to maintain the integrity of the doshas and good health.

Ayurveda has some definite suggestions about the role of sex in one’s life. Sexual activity should be avoided after heavy meals, during hunger or in anger, for this could be detrimental to health. The right amount and right time is important. Vata should not make love more than once or, at most, twice a month, pitta once every two weeks and kapha two to three times a week. The best time for making love is between 10 and 11 p.m. Too frequent love-making reduces ojas, the vital energy, and leaves the person weak and open to diseases. Ojas should be restored after each time through massage and nourishing drinks, like almond milk.

Relationships and Emotions

Daily life is relationships, both the relationships we have with one another and the one we have with ourselves. Ideally, clarity, compassion and love should characterize these relationships. It is often easier to love and respect others than one’s self. Relationships are mirrors to use for self-learning, enquiry and investigation. Through that very learning, radical transformation of one’s life can take place. If our relationships are unclear, confusion and conflict will affect our well-being.

Emotions, like anger, fear or anxiety, arise from reactions to our daily relationships. These reactions appear due to inattention to the moment. Each person needs to pay total attention to his or her thoughts, feelings and emotions. If they don’t, these will be undigested and just as capable of poisoning the body as bad food combinations are. Each emotion is a bio-chemical response to a challenge and may provoke the doshas. Fear and anxiety will provoke vata, anger and hate upset pitta balance and attachment and greed will aggravate kapha .

Meditation and Well-Being

Meditation plays a most important part in daily life and is a powerful tool to help maintain health. While the dictionary says that the term meditation means to think, to ponder, to go through and examine, this definition does not impart the profound meaning of the word at all. Mediation is an action of clear perception, an observation with total awareness and without any conclusion, judgement or criticism. Meditation demands that you be utterly one with the moment. In this oneness, there is radical change in one’s psyche. In this moment-to-moment awareness, there is a cleansing of the body, mind and consciousness. This will bring you to that state of peace which is joy, bliss and enlightenment. At this point, life becomes a movement of spontaneous meditation.

Ayurveda, Food, and You

Written by Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman N.D., M.S.W., DHANP

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Ayurveda is a natural system of medicine, using diet, herbs, cleansing and purification practices, yoga, astrology and gemstones to bring about healing.This article focuses on the dietary principles of Ayurveda and how an ayurvedic diet can both prevent and heal disease. Ayurveda is from India and is at least 5,000 years old, and still as effective as when it was created by ancient sages known as Rishis. The Rishis, masters of meditation and observation, developed a remarkable system of healing based on the five basic elements of the universe, ether, air, fire, water and earth and their combinations, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, known as the doshas. Your dosha is your constitutional type. There are three main types and four combination types. By knowing your type, you have immediate access to useful information on what to eat, how to exercise, what to wear, how to cleanse and purify your body and how to prevent disease, as well as much, much more.
Contrary to most Western approaches to nutrition, Ayurveda does not prescribe one diet as best for everyone, such as raw foods, macrobiotics or the basic four food groups, but seeks to individualize and optimize nutrition for the individual, based on their constitutional type and the particular imbalances in the person which need to be corrected. Food is selected based on its elemental balance, its taste, its effects on the body, and qualities of the foods such as hot and cold, moist and dry, light and heavy, oily, rough, subtle, and others. The main intention of diet in the Ayurvedic system is to nourish the body’s tissues, known as the seven dhatus, ie. lymph, blood, flesh, muscle, fat, marrow, bone and sexual fluid. Each of these tissues, when it is fed, nourishes and forms the next in succession. In order to nourish the tissues, food must first be digested, which is the job of the digestive fire, or agni, which is seated in the stomach and small intestines. Food that is not properly digested, due to overeating, poor food combinations, imbalance of the elements, or toxins in the food creates a sticky, toxic substance known as ama, which coats the digestive tract and the tongue and which may also be deposited in the tissues, forming a breeding ground for chronic disease. Proper food nourishes without making toxic ama.

Ignoring the laws of correct living and allowing the accumulation of toxins in the body predictably results in disease. Ayurveda prescribes an individualized approach to the dietary and lifestyle practices which keep people healthy and promote longevity. Ayurvedic dietary and cleansing practices are among the simplest, but most profoundly effective in the world. By knowing your dosha and applying the principles of living prescribed by both the ancient Rishis and modern Ayurvedic practitioners, you can restore your health and live a long and happy life.

The three main doshas and their dietary principles are given below. A complete Ayurvedic examination includes pulse and tongue reading, your physical characteristics, your mental qualities and emotional temperament, and whatever symptoms you may be suffering from. Although the guidelines given below will probably be helpful for self-care, they are not intended to treat disease or replace the services of an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Vata. Vata is the principle of motion, and is responsible for everything in the body which moves. It is the combination of the elements air and ether (or space.) Vata is said to be mobile, light, dry, cool, rough, subtle, and clear. An excess of these qualities will aggravate Vata. Vata people tend to be thin, dark haired, wirey, fearful and nervous, with very active minds and bodies. They are often on the go (or on the phone!) Vata has its seat in the colon, and one of its main symptoms of aggravation is excess lower bowel gas. Vata is also prominent in the hair, nails, skin and joints and excess Vata will cause dry skin and hair, wrinkles, and cracking joints, and as you might guess, people become more Vata as they age.

The diet which balances Vata includes foods which are warm, moist, oily, heavy, mostly cooked, and emphasizing the sweet, sour and salty taste. Spicey foods are good for Vata people, because they increase the digestive fire. Dairy products help Vata in general unless there is an allergy to them. Although Vata is helped by the sweet taste, white sugar should be avoided. Yeasted products also may aggravate Vata. Many of the symptoms of Candida albicans infection are similar to a Vata imbalance in the colon. Vata people should avoid the cabbage/broccoli and nightshade (tomato, eggplant, green pepper and tomatoes) families of vegetables, and only eat raw vegetables if they are marinated or with salad dressing. Most beans aggravate Vata, but soy products like tofu or soymilk are okay. Regular meals are important.

Pitta. Pitta is the principle of heat. Pitta is composed of the elements fire and water, which may seem incompatible until you think of digestive juices like hydrochloric acid which is liquid, but also firey. Pitta people have a medium, often muscular build, ruddy complexion and often blonde or red hair. They tend emotionally toward anger, impatience and aggressiveness. They are the classic Type A’s. The seat of Pitta is in the small intestine, and it is responsible for digestion and assimilation. Pitta qualities are light (as in bright), oily, hot, mobile and liquid. Common Pitta conditions include skin rashes, ulcers, heart disease, fevers, inflammation and irritation.

The diet for pitta emphasizes foods which are cool, raw, green, soothing and emphasize the sweet, bitter and astringent tastes. Hot, spicey and acidic foods aggravate Pitta. Fruits, vegetables, grains and low fat dairy products are generally good for Pitta, if they aren’t too spicey or sour. Too much oil, salt, alcohol and red meat should be avoided. Pittas do well as vegetarians if they get enough protein.

Kapha. Kapha is the principle of groundedness and stability. Kapha is composed of the water and earth elements. Kapha qualities are cold, dense, oily, heavy, slow, slimey and static. Kapha people tend to be overweight, retain fluid, and are sluggish in general. They have a calm, jovial disposition, but can also be possessive or greedy. Kapha people need to lighten up and let go. The seat of Kapha is in lungs, and Kapha people often get lung congestion and excess mucus. They also are prone to diabetes, water retention, constipation, and depression.

The diet for Kapha emphasizes warm, light, dry foods, plenty of fresh, raw vegetables and fruits and foods with a spicey, bitter or astringent taste. Heavy, oily, creamy foods should be avoided. Wheat, rice and oats may create excess mucus, and fried foods and too much nuts and seeds are detrimental to Kapha people. Sweets (except raw honey), salty and sour foods will aggravate a Kapha person and make them gain weight. Citrus fruits, red meat and dairy products ahould also be avoided. Spicey foods are good for Kapha because they stimulate metabolism.

Try applying the dietary principles for your constitutional type. They are sure to make a difference in how you feel. We recommend Ayurveda, The Science of Self-Healing by Dr. Vasant Lad, The Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amadea Morningstar and Urmila Desai, and Prakruti, by Dr. Robert Swoboda as helpful references.

Drs. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Robert Ullman are naturopathic and homeopathic physicians and cofounders of the Northwest Center for Homeopathic Medicine in Edmonds, WA. They are coauthors of The Patient’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicine and Beyond Ritalin: Homeopathic Treatment of ADD and Other Behavioral and Learning Problems. They can be reached at (206) 774-5599.