“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 Pitta Dosha – Sweet, Bitter and Astringent.
There are six tastes in Ayurveda: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter or astringent.The tastes that work the best for balancing Pitta Dosha are–
- As Sweet is made up of Earth and Water it has a calming effect on the burning Pitta fire.
- This taste is great for Pitta as many foods in this Rasa are cooling, heavy and moist, helping douse those flames! It has a calming and restorative effect for the “live-wire” Pitta.
- 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.
- Air and Space are the qualities that comprise this rasa, giving it cool and drying qualities. It is ideal for Pitta- especially in aiding digestion when an imbalance is present.
- Bitter foods help to gently detoxify and cleanse the body as well as the mind; enhancing clearer vision. Pitta’s creativity will flourish as the body and mind have been cleared of any ‘junk’
- 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 cooling effect. The gentle coolness helps moderate Pitta’s fire and continues to be present during and post-digestion too; making it a long-term solution for an imbalanced Pitta dosha.
- 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 – Pungent, Sour and Salty
- Katu is the hottest of all the rasas and it is made up of fire and air. It significantly increases fire in Pitta, unbalances the Dosha and gives rise to most gastro-interstinal issues Pitta Dosha suffers from on a going basis.
- Pungent foods include: fresh ginger, hot peppers, onions, garlic, mustard and hot spices.
- The sour taste is comprised of the elements earth and fire. Its heating quality fires up the appetite and digestion, often causing more heat than what Pitta can handle with already raging fire.This can create acid indigestion, hyperacidity, heartburn, and ulcers.
- 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. The heat can add to the already hot Pitta’s system, sometimes causing hypertension and heartburn
- Salty foods that work are Seaweed, salted nuts, olives and conserved/preserved foods.
Principles of food that help tame Pitta Dosha
- Since Pittas have strong efficient digestion, they can generally eat just about everything. Most Pittas get into trouble by continued use of too much salt, overuse of sour and spicy food and overeating all of which are “heating” to the body.
- Foods to eat: A pitta pacifying diet favors juicy, cooling foods with high water content with a balance of whole, freshly cooked foods and fresh and raw foods.Its recommended to take cool, refreshing food like Salads (with a not too acidic dressing). Since Pitta is a hot & fiery dosha, warm, cooling foods such as these are good for stabilizing Pitta.
- Foods to avoid: On the other hand foods that are pungent, sour and salty should be avoided. Hot foods (both energetically and in temperature), extra spicy (like Chili and cayenne peppers.), highly processed foods (like canned or frozen foods, “TV” dinners or pastries) are not very good for persons with Pitta imbalance.
- Best Fats: GHEE (clarified butter) is the best fat for Pitta, both for cooking and applying externally as it pacifies the fire. In case of heavy Pitta imbalance, it’s even suggested to start the day with a spoonful of warm ghee (can take with warm milk). However, in case of people with cholesterol & heart issues, it should be taken in moderation. Coconut oil, unsalted butter are other options that works very well as its heavy nature settles the dosha.
- Staples: In general, ‘good’ carbohydrates are good for Pitta as they help douse the fire. The recommended choices are – Whole wheat, rice (esp. basmati rice), barley and oats.Barley is considered the best Pitta grain, due to its cooling, drying and alkalizing effects. Other grains that work are – granola, couscous, and quinoa. Corn, Millet, Rye and even short-grain brown rice are best reduced or avoided, as they tend to heat up the bodies.
- Vegetables:In general sweet and bitter vegetables are good for Pitta dosha. Some recommended veggies are – Green leafy vegetables, Carrot, cucumber, beetroot, pumpkin, okra, cabbage, Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
Cucumber, Lettuce, Peas, Potatoes, Sprouts, Squash, Sweet potatoes, Zucchini etc. Reduce Pungent vegetables like garlic, hot peppers, raw onions, radishes etc.
- Dairy: All dairy is good in moderation, esp. cold dairyis suitable for Pitta. Cold milk, Ghee, soft cheeses and cottage cheese works best. Goat’s milk and soy milk also compliment this dosha.
- Meat: Given the fire existing in this dosha, vegetarian food is the best, as meat tends to heat up the body. In small quantities – White meat or eggsworks the best. Avoid Red meat and seafood as they produce more fire.
- Drinks:Bitter or sweet juices work the best. Juice of aloe vera, apples, berries work great. Juices of bitter and astringent veggies like bitter-gourd and Jamun are excellent for Pitta. Herb teas are usually good. Prefer mint, licorice root or other sweet fruit teas. Avoid coffee is also pitta aggravating due to the acid in coffee.
- Fruits: Sweet and ripe or astringent fruits are great for Pitta. Good examples are ripe pineapple, ripe mango, dates, coconut, pomegranate, grapes, black berries , prunes, avocado and watermelon. Avoid fruits that are sour or un-ripe like sour plums, strawberries, cranberries etc.
- Spices: Spices are generally avoided as too heating. In small amounts, the following sweet and astringent spices are fine – Cardamom, Cilantro(green coriander), Cinnamon, Coriander seed, Dill, Fennel, Mint, Saffron, Turmeric etc. Best to avoid all pungent herbs and spices. Take only the minimal amounts of the following – Barbecue sauce, Catsup, Mustard, Pickles, Salt ,Sour salad dressings, Spicy condiments, Vinegar
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.