Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, is over 5000 years old. It considers food as the most effective medicine and that it should be consumed in synchrony with the individual’s body type.
The philosophy of Ayurvedic medicine primarily rests on three ‘doshas’ or energies known as Vata, Kapha and Pitta, that dominate the state of the human body and mind. Every individual possesses a unique mix of three doshas with one or two dominant doshas. Very rarely do we come across people with a pure dosha. To have a healthy life our diet should be planned to maintain an optimal equilibrium of all the three doshas or energy states.
What are “hot” and “cold” foods according to Ayurveda? Foods that have a heating effect on our body after consumption are termed ‘hot’ foods. They liberate heat in the body, while those having a cooling effect on our body are termed ‘cold’ foods as they lower the temperature of the body. According to Ayurveda, every food, hot or cold, has an innate potency which plays an important role in terms of its impact on the body
According to the principles of Ayurveda, each body type, namely Vata, Kapha and Pitta, will be affected in a different way by hot and cold foods. It is important to bear in mind while cooking and eating to maintain a balance between hot and cold foods. This has to be done by considering your own body type, its requirements and seasonal changes.
It is a common misconception that food which is cooked hot is considered to be hot and refrigerated food is considered to be cold. But the potency of food has no relation with the prevailing temperature of the food. Ice cream, for instance, will induce heat in the body, despite being cold in temperature.
What are hot foods?
Hot foods depict the properties of combustion and digestion. They generally impart a feeling of light body and mind. Sometimes, however, hot foods can also lead to vomiting and purging. Excessive consumption of hot foods can lead to gastritis, ulcers and rashes. They are said to increase one’s appetite and can make you gluttonous. Heartburns are also a common occurrence when eating too many hot foods. Spicy foods are usually considered hot foods.
What are cold foods?
As already mentioned above, cold foods help one in feeling more nourished, strong and steady. But they cause a build-up of fluids in the body and hence eating cold foods can impart a sense of heaviness in the body. They are harder to digest and can negatively impact the immune system.
Cold foods include melons, coconut, asparagus, cauliflower, pumpkin and most sweet fruits. Cold foods are known to provide nourishment and strength to the body. Strawberries, kiwis, watermelons and apricots are cold foods enjoyable in summer. Hot green tea has a cooling effect on our bodies and belongs to the cold food category.
Right foods for each body type as per Ayurveda
Individuals with Pitta constitutions are usually hotter and contain more of the fire element. They are often strong, athletic, and of a medium build. They are prone to mood swings and have strong digestion and voracious appetites. They usually prefer cooler climates over hot weather.
People who are dominant in Pitta should avoid fried and spicy food. They should have more mint, melons, mangoes, cherries, avocados, cucumber smoothies and coconut puddings. They should include leafy greens in their salad like dandelions, kale and arugula.
Winter foods for Pitta body types
Pitta body types generally find winter to be the most comfortable season of the year for their overall health and digestive systems. Avoid eating foods that are sour or heated, such as sour cream, cranberries, grapes, grapefruit, pineapple, tamarind, spinach, and hard cheeses. Deep-fried and extremely spicy foods should be avoided whenever possible. Focus on consuming foods that are sweet, bitter, and astringent, such as fresh coconut, coriander, fruits, and fresh salads with a little lemon dressing. Other examples include lentils with pure ghee and fresh coconut. The best source of fat for this Dosha is pure ghee. Stop using processed oils and start cooking with pure cow’s ghee.
A Vata constitution refers to someone who was born with a stronger affinity for the air and space elements. They usually have a low body weight and are energetic and creative. Climate-wise, they often like warm or hot temperatures and may find it difficult to tolerate the cold. They struggle to put on weight; hence they are typically slim and slender.
People who are dominant in Vata should consume more warm, cooked and nourishing food which can be easily digested. They should include more dairy products in their diet. Vegetables like beans, zucchini, cauliflower and sweet potatoes are all good for people dominant in Vata. Cranberries, plums, rhubarb, nuts, kiwi, grapefruit and bananas are the foods good for people dominant in Vata.
Winter foods for Vata body types
People with the Vata dosha frequently experience excessive dryness and coldness during winter. Hence, it is advisable to eat food that nourishes the body. Try to include all flavours in your meals such as sweet, sour, and salty, including dry fruits, turnips, and ginger flavouring. It is recommended to choose modest meals at 2-3 hours intervals. Black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, and cloves are the spices beneficial for this dosha type. Include organic vegetables and clean proteins. These can be roasted or sautéed in a tiny quantity of ghee.
A person with a higher inclination toward the earth and water components is said to have a Kapha constitution. They typically have a large, solid frame. They have strong endurance and stamina. The good appetite and poor digestive abilities of Kapha personalities cause them to gain weight.
People dominant in their Kapha can enjoy light, spicy and warm foods. They can spice up their dishes with spices like black pepper, cumin, ginger, sesame and turmeric etc. These spices are very beneficial for health as well. Bitter dark green veggies, beans and pulses are good for people with dominant Kapha. The fruits that they can eat include pears, peaches, figs, pomegranates and apples.
Winter foods for Kapha body types
Winter is the hardest season for those with Kapha dosha since they frequently experience congestion and respiratory issues. Therefore, it would be best to refrain from consuming dairy products and fatty foods. Consume freshly prepared, warm, and light meals that have more bitter and pungent flavours and are prepared with little to no fat. Avoid all items with refined sugar, yeasted bread, alcohol, and fried foods. Make lunch your main meal and eat little portions of it. To keep the body warm and stimulated, switch to herbal tea infused with ginger, tulsi, lemon grass, cardamom, pepper, and honey.
Ayurveda is a form of holistic medicine that emphasises promoting balance between your body and mind. According to Ayurveda, five elements make up the universe — Vayu (air), Jala (water), Akash (space), Teja (fire), and Prithvi (earth). These elements form three different doshas, which are defined as types of energy that circulate within our body. The Ayurvedic diet is a component of Ayurveda and has been practised for thousands of years. It is based on determining your dominant dosha and eating specific foods to promote balance between all three doshas. Try and incorporate hot and cold foods as per your individual dosha to enjoy a healthy and disease-free life.
You may also like: