In the last blog, we discussed in detail that what should be the ratio of different tastes in the food pyramid of a Vata personality. We also very briefly discussed about how Ayurveda divided human constitution, broadly in three categories i.e. Vata, Pitta and Kapha and foods in six different tastes.
In this blog, we shall discuss about what should be the diet chart (or say food Pyramid) of kapha personalities who are prone to putting on weight (in extreme cases obesity) and pitta people who are prone to inflammatory diseases. Let us pick up the food pyramid of Kapha people first.
*** Please do ensure to understand the concepts of constitutions and six tastes in brief from the previous blog before starting this one. For detailed understanding you may pick up a copy of THE ROOT CAUSE book and watch therootcause series on Youtube.
KAPHA MORPHOLOGY/ KAPHA DISEASES/ KAPHA FOOD PYRAMID
Contrary to vata counterparts, kapha people have lots of blood flowing in their body and therefore have an inflated body if we compare it with that of a balloon. Now since their mind is full of blood meaning nutrition, it is settled and therefore low on vata and high on kapha and is therefore less active than vata people. And a settled mind is bound to give rest not only to itself but also to its body. Rest meaning less activity means low metabolism. And therefore, kapha people due to low metabolism, have a tendency to put on weight.
For obvious reasons Kapha people are prone to obesity and associated diseases like diabetes type 2 because their agni (metabolism) is so weak (if kapha is very high) that their body is full of toxins leading to congested environment and insulin resistance. To deflate their inflated body due to high amount of blood, they need a diet exactly opposite to that of Vata people for reducing the volume of their blood and tissues, meaning they should have more of bitter, astringent and pungent and less of sweet, salty and sour. However, a very important point to note here is that this diet should not continue forever in case of Kapha people. Sooner or later depending on extent of kapha present towards brain and upper body, the person concerned would lose his/her kapha (or say volume of the blood) and once that is done, he/she should come to normal diet wherein pungency should be balanced with sweet food, astringency with sour food and salt in moderation. Lastly, since bitter has no opposite taste (except yogasanas), one should avoid using bitter forever which is a mistake that kapha people make and have foods/drinks like onion, garlic, liquor, tobacco, chocolate, tea, coffee, broccoli etc. for years together, either because of addiction (in most of the cases) or because they think that such foods are helping them as a medicine to reduce their weight/cholesterol/BP. Please remember that too much of bitterness and for too long will increase the vata of mind of even a kapha person and create severe irreversible diseases of the brain and upper body like insomnia, headaches, loss of memory/balance etc. which is what we notice in today’s world. Also too much of bitterness along with astringent and pungent foods (like green tea) would create excess pungency and inflammation in the body leading to stress and surge in blood sugar (I have personally seen several cases especially those having diabetes consuming lot of green tea with the assumption that green tea will help them shed off weight and control their diabetes. However what is happening on ground is that this concoction of bitter, astringent and pungent taste inflames their pancreas and further shoots up the sugar levels in blood along with unnecessary stress).
***Before we proceed, it is extremely important to know the difference between a kapha mind and vata mind as mentioned above. Please remember that food recommendations based on wrong diagnosis can lead to health issues. This is because most of us in today’s world and even nutritionists make this mistake of identifying overweight people as kapha ones and recommend kapha pacifying foods based on kapha pyramid whereas their minds are vata ridden. This results in the onset of irreversible/incurable vata diseases due to extremely high vata in the mind. Whereas the fact is that such obese people are usually pseudo-kapha where sourness has increased the volume of their cells/tissues and not their strength. Such people simply require astringent diet and meds like medha vati to pacify vata of the brain (if their brain is hyperactive).
PITTA MORPHOLOGY/ PITTA DISEASES/ PITTA FOOD PYRAMID
A pitta person is so who has lots of current (leading to high metabolism) in the body which gives her/him virtues like intelligence, analytical skills etc. but the flip side is that they are also prone to bursts of aggression and inflammatory diseases. Quite logically, pitta people should have less of those foods that increase pitta in them and that’s why their pyramid suggests that they should have less of pungent, sour and salty foods and more of sweet ones to heal the inflammation and also satiate their high metabolic requirement. Since astringency reduces pitta, a typical pyramid suggests they should have more of it however like every other constitution they have to learn to balance all tastes including this one because too much of astringency will increase vata and cause issues and that’s why they have to learn to use their own wisdom to know which dosha is going high.
Pitta of any person is governed by glutamate-gaba mechanism located in pancreas (where glutamate is excitory neurotransmitter that increases pitta and gaba is calming one that reduces pitta). So if one has inflamed pancreas (high vata or less blood there), conversion of glutamate to gaba will be weak. Bitter, astringent and sweet herbs/foods/concoction if taken, will reduce inflammation of pancreas thereby reducing pitta. That’s how bael fruit works being high in all these three tastes. Its bitterness takes blood towards lower body (if taken when in upright position), sweetness will replenish the body and astringency will remove deep seated vata by going even deeper as astringency constricts and widens blood vessels to move sweetness farther with the help of gravity/push. In fact that’s how even beer works being high in all these three tastes. This is the reason that bitter foods have been shown to be topping the pyramid. However if a specific food item or a meal has collectively high pungency (higher than sweetness) along with astringency and bitterness, then it will not settle pitta and in fact may increase pitta just as tea and coffee do. And that’s why one must know how to combine foods/tastes.
Another flip side of taking too much of bitterness is that due to gravity it will increase vata of the mind (even if it is reducing pitta of lower body) and thats why a person high on VP both should be careful while consuming such foods.
*****For understanding presence of various tastes in different foods please check this sheet…...ayurvedic tastes of different foods
Finally please don’t miss these very important points as without them, the understanding of these pyramids would be incomplete and incomplete knowledge is extremely dangerous:-
- These pyramids are more of guidelines for typical (PURE) Vata or Pitta or Kapha people. And the extent of less or more of these tastes will depend upon the extent of dosha/doshas present in the person concerned.
- The amount of sweetness will depend upon the amount of pungency taken, similarly amount of sourness will depend upon the amount of astringency because these tastes work opposite to each other.
- Even weather conditions have to be taken care of while using these pyramids. To give you an example, a Vata person would need to increase astringency during summers vis a vis what he/she was taking during winters because during summers, pitta/heat increases thereby increasing acidity in the body and thus sourness. To counter excess of this sourness, one needs to have more of astringency. This is the reason that fleshy and astringent fruits are available more during summers whereas during winters when less heat/pitta in the weather increases astringency in the body, we see more of hot/sour fruits/vegetables/food items coming like orange, kiwi, cheeku, sesame seeds, spinach etc. Similarly even location change (from hot to cold or vice versa) should also be managed in the same manner by changing one’s diet (check this blog to understand more).
- Also to note that sugary foods are not nourishing to the body and therefore under no circumstances should they be considered as sweet. In fact they increase vata.
- Since Vata people (especially minds) have less of blood reaching their brain, in order to give a kick to their brain, they fall prey (addicted) to foods like tea/ coffee/ onion/ garlic/ chocolates/ alcohol/ tobacco because pungency in such foods increases blood circulation, bitterness de-stresses them though only temporarily (as vasodilation due to bitterness further reduces blood from the brain due to gravity making the brain more stressed). It is therefore important that Vata people who are most prone to such foods stay away from them with the help of will and determination. Medicines like medha vati/manas mitra if taken in night (please remember night only) help such minds to de-stress and de-addict.
- A person may need to deviate from these pyramids for sometime to get rid of their disease. For example a vata person should ideally have more of sour foods vis a vis astringent as per their pyramid, however if a vata person has issues like ulcerative colitis or brain diseases like insomnia, he/she would need to have bitter+astringent+sweet herbs/food to heal up these inflamed areas (colon and brain in these cases) and stay away from sour food till such time these areas are not cured. Same way a kapha person having diabetes may need to go for sweet tastes like Bael to repair their pancreas (as mentioned in the kapha section above). Also once a person has been cured, he/she may need to stick to the pyramid required by healthy body which would have sweet and pungency, sourness and astringency in equal proportion to each other.
- Similarly a person who has uniform circulation of blood in the body would need to have very very less bitter, salt in moderation, sweetness and pungency in equal proportion and sourness and astringency again in equal proportion. And since they cant afford to increase vata of their brain, in case of excess kapha (sweetness) in their body , they should have herbs like Trikatu (a concoction of Pipali, black pepper and ginger) or simply black pepper to pacify kapha instead of having bitter medicines.
- Lastly, invariably every person is a mix of different constitutions and has to be handled accordingly. For example a person with kapha mind may have vata in the lower body. The result would be that such people may develop diabetes type 1.5 (click here to read blog on cause and cure of diabetes), where kapha mind would make the person put on weight but lower body due to high vata (or high metabolism) would lead to poor working of pancreas. In such a case the person would need foods like bael in the morning to reduce kapha from upper body due to bael’s bitterness and increase kapha towards lower body due to its bitterness, astringency and sweetness.
**** Also recommended to go through the blog on how Vata pushes Kapha making a person put on weight along with several diseases (click here).
THIS BLOG IS AN EXTRACT FROM MY BOOK THE ROOT CAUSE .