“Without proper diet, medicine is of no use. With proper diet, medicine is of no need”. Ayurveda believes that most physical, emotional, mental imbalances are caused by dosha imbalances. And with proper diet and lifestyle changes, you can fundamentally balance the dosha and lead a healthier life.
The Three Tastes of Kapha Dosha – Pungent, Bitter and Astringent
There are six tastes in Ayurveda: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter or astringent.The tastes that work the best for balancing Kapha Dosha are–
- Katu is the hottest of all the rasas and it is made up of fire and air. These two forces combine to get those digestive fires burning! This leads to an improved appetite, stimulating blood circulation subsequently motivating the senses.
- The Kapha dosha need this boost to get moving and remove any sluggishness. Also, the air quality of Katu is just what the [Ayurvedic :)] doctor ordered for drying up all the mucous in the body as Kapha tends to have sinus and congestion issues.
- Pungent foods include: fresh ginger, hot peppers, onions, garlic, mustard and hot spices.
- Air and Space are the qualities that comprise this rasa, giving it cool and drying qualities.
- Bitter foods help to gently detoxify and cleanse the body as well as the mind; assisting kapha’s sluggish and heavier disposition.
- The Bitter taste abounds in foods such dark leafy greens, broccoli, sprouts, beets and herbs such as turmeric and fenugreek.
- Air and Earth comprise this taste. Cool, dry, and light, the astringent rasa has a airy and drying effect, making it ideal for Kapha.
- The astringent taste abounds in foods such as: beans and legumes, broccoli and cauliflower, green grapes, cranberries, pomegranates, alfalfa sprouts, and okra.
The tastes to reduce or avoid – Sweet, Sour and Salty
- Sweet is made up of Earth and Water.Its heavy, oily, moist qualities tend to slow down digestion, as it will quickly increase Kapha when taken in excess. It’s often suggested in ayurveda for Kapha to eat small dessert first in the meal if needed J
- However, sweet taste does not mean only desserts! The sweet taste abounds in foods such as carbohydrates like wheat, rice, grains, oatmeal, fresh/dried fruit and even dairy like milk, cheese etc.
- The sour taste is comprised of the elements earth and fire. can suffocate kapha with its slippery, grounding nature.
- Sour foods include lemons, limes, plums, vinegar, and pickled and fermented foods.
- The salty taste, made of fire and water, tends to be a heavy and heaty. Its heating quality fires up the appetite and digestion. Kapha will be attracted to the warmth of salty flavors, but this flavor tends to promote more weight gain and water retention than what Kapha really wants.
- Salty foods that work are Seaweed, salted nuts, olives and conserved/preserved foods.
Principles of food that help tame Kapha Dosha
- People with Kapha dosha love food! Watch out for eating too much food and putting on weight, a typical kapha tendency. Kaphas need to watch the consumption of too much sweet foods or fatty foods.
- Foods to eat: The best foods for Kapha dosha are – Warm, light, dry food, cooked without much water, minimum of butter, oil and sugar. Eat lightly cooked foods or raw fruits and vegetables. The food needs to be stimulating with pungent (spicy), bitter, and astringent tastes. Select hot food over cold food whenever feasible. Dry cooking methods (baking, broiling, grilling, sautéing) are preferable for Kaphas over moist cooking such as steaming, boiling or poaching.
- Foods to avoid: On the other hand foods that are sweet (yes – desserts!), sour and salty should be avoided. Avoid deep fried foods. Keep an eye on the salt consumption also, which tend to result in fluid retention in Kaphas. Also avoid ‘cold’ foods in general – in temperature and energetically – take a glass of hot water instead of ice water.
- Breaking the fast: Try hot ginger tea to kick-start your sluggish digestive system or take honey, hot water, lemon juice and ginger. Kapha breakfast should be hot (spiced cider, hot oatmeal or bitter cocoa with skim milk and a touch of honey). Avoid cold cereals, cold juice or milk, and sugary pastries. Avoid breakfast meats like Bacon, sausage as that aggravates Kapha due to their salt and oil.
- Best Fats: In general, for Kapha dosha, fats are recommended in small quantities only. Pungent fats are better than sweeter fats – so mustard oil, sunflower oil, corn oil work better for Kapha dosha
- Staples: In general, ‘lighter’ carbohydrates are good for Kapha- Barley, millet, corn, buckwheat, rye, quinoa, couscous and oats and whole grain breads (toasted). Whole wheat, rice and cooked oats should be reduced as hot cereals and steamed grains, in general, as they are too moist and heavy for Kapha.
- Vegetables:Pungent and bitter vegetables are best for balancing Kapha dosha. . Some recommended veggies are – all green leafy vegetables, carrot, beets, artichoke, broccoli, corn, celery, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, bell pepper, green beans , peas, sprouts, tender radish etc.Avoid or reduce sweet juicy vegetables like sweet potatoes, zucchini, tapioca, winter squash etc
- Dairy: Don’t overindulge on dairy foods. Butter, ice cream, and cheese are among the worst foods you can take as it aggravates the Kapha. Take warm low fat milk. Avoid heavy cheeses and milk shakes.
- Meat: In small quantities – White meat, turkey or eggs works the best. Avoid Red meat and seafood as they aggravate the dosha.
- Drinks:Spicy, Astringent or Bitter beverages work the best. Chai ( spiced indian tea) is the best for the dosha. Pomegranate or prune juices give you astringent tastes. Juices of bitter and astringent veggies like bitter-gourd and Jamun are excellent for Kapha.
- Fruits: Dried and/ or astringent fruits are great for Kapha. Good examples are
apricots, berries, cherries, cranberries, figs, peaches, pears, prunes, pomegranates etc. Avoid fruits that are too sweet, sour or very juicy like avocados, bananas, coconut, dates, grapefruit, grapes, melons, oranges, papayas, pineapples, plums etc
- Spices: All spices are good, except salt. Specially ginger tea or a pinch or ginger to stimulate appetite. Heating spices like black pepper, cumin, mustard seeds, ajwain, saffron, hing, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, anise, fennel, coriander, dill, mint, garlic, nutmeg, tamarind are especially beneficial to this dosha.
- Sweetners : Kaphas have a sweet tooth. So, cutting down on sugar is difficult for many of them. Cutting sugar is highly recommended. Take honey instead, but avoid taking more than a spoonful of honey a day.
Remember the golden rules in regard to food; eat only when hungry; eat small meals; eat your last meal at least four hours before bedtime; and eat food chosen from the food list from your Dosha. Meals should not be consumed when anxious, stressed, or depressed. If you are hungry before bed then take suitable fruits only.
Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only. Always seek the advice of qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, fitness, or other health program.