Should You Try the Ayurvedic Diet?

The Ayurvedic diet may offer a way to balance bodily energy, improving overall health and wellness. Thinking of trying it? Find out here if it’s a good fit for you.

Ayurvedic Medicine Principles for Better Health

Ayurvedic diet principles are based on holistic medicine and the promotion of a balance between mind and body. This belief system indicates that the universe is made from five elements: vayu (air), jala (water), akash (space), teja (fire), and prithvi (earth). These elements are then used to form three doshas. The doshas are energy types that circulate within the body. 

The three doshas are:

  • Pitta (fire and water) — This dosha belongs to hardworking and intelligent people who are decisive. They have medium builds and short tempers, and they may have high blood pressure, heart disease, and indigestion.
  • Vata (air and space) — Lively, creative, and energetic people typically have this dosha. These people are thin, and they may suffer from fatigue and anxiety issues.
  • Kapha (earth and water) — The Kapha dosha is associated with people who are loyal, grounded, and calm. Their frames are sturdy, and they’re at risk for diabetes, asthma, depression, and weight issues.

Understanding which dosha a person belongs to may theoretically help them find the right eating plan that might improve their physical and mental health.

How Does the Ayurvedic Diet Work?

In the Ayurvedic diet, a person first determines their dominant dosha. Then, they eat specific foods to produce a balance between their dosha and the other doshas. It addresses what types of food a person should eat and when and how they should consume the food. A healthy, whole-foods approach is recommended for all doshas, but there are additional, specific recommendations for each.

In a very general sense, these ae the recommendation for each:

  • The pitta dosha may want to eat poultry, sweet fruits, and barley while avoiding red meat and seafood, brown rice, almonds, cashews, and peanuts.
  • The Vata dosha would choose moist, warm, and grounding foods while avoiding raw vegetables, bitter herbs, and dried fruits. 
  • The Kapha dosha may choose skim milk, oats, fruits, and green leafy vegetables while avoiding shrimp, bananas, soybeans, kidney beans, and pecans.

These aren’t exhaustive lists, but these examples can guide people toward what to eat on the Ayurvedic diet for each dosha.

What are the Ayurvedic Diet Benefits?

The Ayurvedic diet encourages the consumption of whole foods. Although each dosha has specific guidelines, the overall diet is one of fruits, veggies, legumes, and grains. Processed foods, added sugars, and artificial chemicals are discouraged and mostly avoided. The diet may help weight loss or management, and it may help focus a person on mindful eating practices

The essential nutrients in many of the foods encouraged by the Ayurvedic diet may have overall health benefits and could help reduce health problems as people age, also. There is an indication that the Ayurvedic diet may help protect against some chronic diseases and promote better overall health, but further studies into the issue are needed. 

Are There Downsides to the Ayurvedic Diet?

The Ayurvedic diet may be confusing for some, and it may also be hard to follow without guidance. It might feel restrictive for some and that can kick of binging so make a plan that avoids the feeling of restriction. This is especially true for those who have food allergies or dietary restrictions. For people trying to get started on the diet, the number of restrictions and requirements may feel overwhelming and challenging to process at their most vulnerable period. 

The Ayurvedic diet is also subjective and reliant on the establishment of a dominant dosha. If we determine the predominant dosha incorrectly, we theoretically would not be eating the right way for our overall health and wellbeing. 

Does the Ayurvedic Diet Really Work?

This depends on your overall goal. Science does not currently support the concept of doshas or any eating plan based on personality type. Therefore, the value of the diet is questionable from a scientific standpoint. But science definitely agrees on the idea that whole foods are the healthiest foods and that eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes are the best choices overall for most of us.

For many people, there’s no reason not to try the Ayurvedic diet if they want to. It’s another way to eat and one that may help with weight loss and overall health. Just remember that science doesn’t back this diet based on doshas, so it’s more of an experiment than a solid way to better health. Though if it works for you, and increases your health, then there's not much reason not to stick with it. It’s largely whole-foods and plant-based, which has been shown to have health benefits for the body and mind. 

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7/2/2021 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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