Ayurveda is a goldmine of remedies and health-benefiting concoctions that are not only easy to arrive at but also inexpensive. The term Ayurveda stands for ‘science of life’ stemming from the words ‘Ayur’ meaning life and ‘Veda’ which means science. Ayurveda meticulously lays down guidelines on how one must chart out his/her daily routine starting from the regular diet. What we eat greatly influences our health, but as per the Ayurveda, the property of a particular food item, the time of food consumption as well as the taste of the food consumed also affects our overall well-being. Ayurveda characterises body types into three broad constitutions – Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Each body type is dominated by elements like fire, water, air, earth and space; some people may even exhibit a combination of two elements.
This National Ayurveda Day, we take a closer at the three body constitutions and how the taste of a specific food item may benefit or harm each constitution type. Though this piece does not lay down definite guidelines on food consumption, if you know your prakriti, you may want to adhere to these principles in your lifestyle.
Kapha – Water dominated
Kapha individuals are dominated by a mix of earth and water; they tend to suffer from cold, cough and mucous related ailments more as compared to others. Kaphadominated people benefit a great deal from foods that have bitter, pungent and astringent taste, these would include items like citrus foods, amla, mustard, bitter gourd, et cetera. “Kapha people may tend to feel over-emotional, therefore they may benefit from consuming little amount sweet right before turning in. However, sweet consumption throughout the day must be kept in check as overindulgence may make them gain weight,” notes Ayurveda and Yoga expert Yogi Anoop from Mediyoga.
“Sweet foods aggravate kapha and cause colds, cough, congestion, heaviness, loss of appetite, laziness and obesity. Kapha individuals should avoid foods containing sweet, sour and salty tastes as they increase bodily water” as mentioned in The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies written by Ayurveda expert Dr. Vasant Lad.
Pungent foods have a good effect on brain nerves of Kapha dominated people. Pungent is exclusively good for such individuals.
Compatible tastes – Bitter, pungent, astringent
Pitta – Fire dominated
Pitta dominated people are full of heat, therefore they have excellent digestion and an appetite that can take the load of almost anything. These people are therefore directed to consume things that would calm their body down and have a soothing effect on their body. Sweet consumption is essential for them as it supports their digestive fire, however one must not go overboard with it. Sour, pungent and salty food items aggravate fire or heat in the body, therefore these should not be consumed in excess by pitta dominated individuals. Bitter and astringent tastes are cool and calming in nature and pacify kapha and pitta dosh, these would include foods like coffee, aloe vera, bitter gourd, fenugreek, turmeric, okra, yellow split peas, green beans, unripe bananas, et cetera.
Salt aggravates Pitta qualities.
Compatible tastes – Bitter, astringent, sweet
Vata – Air dominated
Sour and salty foods are exclusively beneficial for people dominated by Vata. Bitter, pungent and astringent items must be avoided by such people as these tend to cause gas. Excessive consumption of spicy or stringent items may cause Vata imbalance. A Vata individual would benefit by adding foods like cheese, lemon, green grapes and fermented items in their diet.
“Vata people are full of energy and hyperactivity, therefore foods that would tame their hyperactivity would be beneficial,” shared Yogi Anoop.
Vata is essentially dominated by air; therefore items that have air element may not suit them. Sweet (earth + water); sour (earth + fire) and salty (fire + air) therefore benefit Vata individuals.
Compatible tastes – Sweet, salty, sour
6 tastes and their composition
Essentially, if you know your prakriti, you can easily figure out what tastes would best suit your composition by looking at the properties of various tastes given below. Always remember, a person can also be a mixture of two distinct constitutions, for example Vata + kapha, but one dosha will always be the dominant one.
Sweet or Madhura – water + earth
Salty or Lavana – water + fire
Sour or Amla– Earth + fire
Pungent (spicy/hot) or Katu– Fire + air
Bitter or Tikta – Air +space
Astringent or Kashai – Air + earth