Eating for your Ayurvedic type

Food and medicine

In traditional Hindu medicine, or Ayurveda, there are three body types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.

Each body type, or dosha, is governed by the five elements; Vata by air and space, Pitta by fire and water, and Kapha by water and earth. We are usually a combination of two doshas, with one being a little more prominent.

Jody Vassallo, author of recipe book Beautiful Food, shares her tips for understanding, and eating for, your Ayurvedic DNA.

Vata types are thinner, more creative types. Because they are ruled by air and space elements, they tend to have drier, rougher skin, which can be aggravated in cool, windy weather. It is important for Vata types to eat regularly and to stay warm. They should try to avoid raw foods outside of summer as these can be too cooling for their bodies. Carbonated or ice-cold drinks are not recommended for either; instead they should favour room temperature water or nourishing spiced chai. Warm, cold-pressed sesame oil is wonderful medicine for Vata skin and is best applied after a hot shower. Rub the oil in a clockwise direction around the navel if you have digestive issues and it will help to calm your tummy, then rub it over your whole body (even in your hair if you have dandruff). Cold-pressed sesame oil is very warming, so if you are a Vata-Pitta mix then you may want to mix the sesame oil with cold-pressed organic coconut oil in summer.

Pitta types are athletic and driven. They are governed by fire and water elements, which means they can be prone to skin rashes and acne.
Summer can really put Pitta types out of balance, so it is important to limit the amount of spicy hot food they consume in these months. Cooling herbal teas are great for these types, as are fruit and vegetable juices. Cold-pressed organic coconut oil is extremely therapeutic for fiery types and they can use it as a moisturiser as well as in cooking. Rosewater is also very cooling and great for Pittas to spray on their face in summer when they are feeling the heat. It is really important for Pitta types to rinse salt water from their skin after they swim in the ocean – salt is heating and if they leave it on after they have been to the beach they may have difficulty cooling down for the rest of the day.

Kapha types are solid, loyal and steadfast. Water and earth govern them so they have a tendency to be oily skinned and to retain fluid. Kaphas suffer more in rainy, damp weather or with sudden changes in temperatures, as they often have a slower, more sluggish metabolism. Too many sweet or deep-fried foods will send these types out of balance, as will excess dairy and grains. Warming, spicy foods and drinks are great for kaphas. Ginger, cinnamon and turmeric are spices that should be used regularly by these types. Add them to dhal, soups or roast vegetables. Exfoliating is also a great practice to stimulate their circulatory systems. Use a salt scrub in winter to help warm and stimulate the whole body. Exercise will also help to keep their skin looking its best.

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The information presented on this website is not intended as specific medical advice and is not a substitute for professional medical treatment or diagnosis. Read our Medical Notice.