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Vata, pitta or kapha: which foods and supplements are best for you?

Are you more vata (wind), pitta (fire) or kapha (earth and water)? Discover which type of physiology and personality is the closest match for you, and which foods and supplements suit you best.
Vata, pitta and kapha doshas
Start by identifying your dominant dosha, and potentially your secondary one.
Rédaction Supersmart.
2021-11-17Comments (0)

Doshas: how do they work?

According to Ayurveda, we are all made up of a mix of 3 distinct energy patterns called doshas:

Each of us is born with all three doshas, but in very different ratios: our own unique combination of these energies thus defines our Ayurvedic constitution which determines our physical and mental characteristics.

In general, one or two doshas predominate. In monodoshic constitutions (vata, pitta or kapha), there is a single dominant dosha. Most of us, however, fall into the bidoshic category (vata-pitta, vata-kapha ou pitta-kapha), while tridoshic constitutions, in which vata-pitta-kapha doshas are present in equal proportions, are very rare.

Why does it help to know our Ayurvedic constitution? Primarily so that we can identify our potential sources of imbalance and correct them by amongst others, adopting a suitable food regime. In practice, this means constantly tempering a dominant dosha with its opposite qualities. For example, a vata type, with an airy, dynamic nature, should prioritise warm, hearty foods which will help ‘stabilise’ them.

Vata: free as the wind

Physical and psychological characteristics of vata types

In Ayurvedic medicine, vata is characterised as light, dry, cold, rough, precise, subtle, mobile and clear. This manifests physically in a slight build, being fine-boneddry skin and feeling the cold. Vata types are not big eaters and prefer ‘grazing’. Their digestion is irregular with a tendency towards constipation.

Mentally, vatas are endlessly creative and hugely enthusiastic, but risk spreading themselves too thinly across numerous projects. Imbalance manifests in excessive nervousness.

Foods to be avoided by vatas

If you identify as a vata, try not to eat anything raw or cold (iced drinks, crudités ...). Limit your intake of dry or coarse foods (cabbage, potatoes, pulses ...) as well as stimulants.

Good food choices for vatas

Vatas should focus on sweet, salty and sour flavours, and opt for warm, creamy, satisfying foods to counteract their ‘lightness’. Their diet can therefore include plenty of fats (ghee, vegetable oils…) and moist or liquid foods (creamy soups, hot drinks …). All combined with warming and gas-relieving spices to support their digestion!

Supplements suitable for vatas

Digestion-wise, vatas can take lactic bacteria to support their gut flora(1), focusing on the bacterial strains most widely studied by scientists (as contained in Probio Forte, which combines Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus and Lactococcus).

And what can they do to positively channel their over-active brains? Tulsi (also known as ‘holy basil’) has long featured in Ayurvedic medicine, as it helps to regulate stress and induce relaxation (2), while also maintaining vitality. In some synergistic supplements (such as Adrenal Support) it has been wisely combined with magnesium, which supports normal psychological function (3).

As vatas often suffer from insomnia, they should consider supplementing with melatonin. A hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain, melatonin plays a key role in regulating the sleep/wake cycle and reducing the time it takes to fall asleep (4). It thus features in some formulations (such as Advanced Sleep Formula, where it’s combined with passiflora, the ultimate sedative herb).

Pitta: all fired up

Physical and psychological characteristics of pitta

The pitta dosha is described as hot, light, oily, mobile, pungent and sharp. Of average build, pitta types perspire a lot, their faces redden easily and they have huge appetites. Their main health issues are intrinsically linked to heat: heartburn, diarrhoea, fever and inflammation.

Socially, pitta types present as natural leaders who like to persuade and convince. They have critical minds and an acute sense of logic. The other reverse side of this coin is that they are strong>quick to fly into a rage.

Foods pitta types should avoid

While pittas need to make sure they eat enough, they should avoid spicy and acidic flavours which fan the flames of their internal fire. So no chillies or cornichons/gherkins! Overly fatty or oily foods should only be consumed in moderation (meat, cheese …) and the same goes for stimulating drinks.

Good foods for pittas

If you’re a pitta type, bitter, sweet, and astringent tastes are ideal. Opt for crudités, grains, pulses, dairy products and sweet fruits (such as pears). Always cook them with a little fat.

Supplements suited to pitta types

Pittas are prone to fevers. Echinacea, used for centuries by Native Americans, helps the body’s defences function properly as well as offering relief from a sore throat (5-6). Pitta types who experience problems like this can turn to appropriate supplementation (such as Immunity Booster based on organic echinacea).

Chronic inflammatory processes are often the result of an imbalance caused by a number of factors: genetic, dietary, stress, environmental ... Super-polyvalent supplements are available that help to restore inner harmony (such as InflaRelief, which combines 12 natural substances including bromelain and turmeric, as well as three high-quality, patented products) (7).

Some pitta types find it helpful to take hemp-sourced cannabidiol (CBD). CBD has no THC and therefore no psychoactive effects, and can be taken in more than one form: vegetarian capsules, or oral sprays...

Kapha: a long, calm river

Physical and psychological characteristics of kapha

Heavy, dense, steady, cold, slow and soft are the qualities associated with kapha. Calm but forceful, the kapha type is by nature an over-eater. Typically sedentary, he or she gains weight easily, which can lead to significant metabolic problems such as diabetes. Kapha types stand out for their obvious slowness which is apparent in their digestion too.

Emotionally, kaphas are reserved. Loyal and kind, they make endearing and reliable friends who inspire confidence. Their great stability makes them somewhat averse to change.

Foods that should be avoided by kapha types

In short, they need to go easy on the salt, sugar and fat, and eat lightly! Kaphas should ideally steer clear of heavy grains (such as wheat), meat, dairy products and too much fat. Creamy dishes are also to be avoided.

Good food choices for kaphas

Warm, light, and dry food is favorable, or cooked light meals. Kaphas do best with lightly cooked foods or raw fruits and vegetables. Any food that is spicy is good for Kaphas such as very hot Mexican or Indian food, especially in winter. Dry cooking methods (baking, broiling, grilling, sautéing) are preferable for Kaphas over moist cooking such as steaming, boiling, or poaching. Foods such as romaine lettuce, endive, or tonic water are good for stimulating the Kapha appetite, while preferred spices are cumin, fenugreek, sesame seed, and turmeric.

Kapha eating centres around a warm, dried and energised approach. Spices are therefore going to be their best friends! A vegetarian diet with plenty of cooked vegetables, fruits that aren’t too sweet, and pulses, will suit them perfectly. Gently steaming food, and drinking tea and coffee in moderation are also ideal for the kapha eating plan.

Supplements suitable for kapha types

When it comes to losing excess kapha weight, there’s no secret: you simply need to eat a balanced diet and take regular exercise. To support your efforts, you can also take advantage of supplementation (try, for example, the product TropiSlim, based on dragon fruit, or pitahaya, an exotic fruit with surprising benefits) (8-9).

Feeling listless? Ginseng is the perfect tonic. This key Chinese medicine plant helps to fight fatigue and maintain vitality. For optimal efficacy, make sure you choose a supplement with a high content of ginsenosides, the main active compounds in ginseng (try the excellent Ginseng 30%) (10).

Metabolising sugars properly is essential for kapha types. Banaba (Lagerstroemia speciosa L.) supports weight control and blood sugar control (11). It’s thus included in cutting-edge formulations (such as Glucofit, standardised to 18% corosolic acid).

Another option is moringa leaf (such as is found in the product Organic Moringa Leaf Extract). This Ayurvedic plant plays a role in breaking down glucose and helps to maintain normal blood sugar levels (12).

References

  1. Shi LH, Balakrishnan K, Thiagarajah K, Mohd Ismail NI, Yin OS. Beneficial Properties of Probiotics. Trop Life Sci Res. 2016;27(2):73-90. doi:10.21315/tlsr2016.27.2.6
  2. Jamshidi N, Cohen MM. The Clinical Efficacy and Safety of Tulsi in Humans: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2017;2017:9217567. doi:10.1155/2017/9217567
  3. Boyle NB, Lawton C, Dye L. The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress-A Systematic Review. Nutrients. 2017;9(5):429. Published 2017 Apr 26. doi:10.3390/nu9050429
  4. Xie Z, Chen F, Li WA, Geng X, Li C, Meng X, Feng Y, Liu W, Yu F. A review of sleep disorders and melatonin. Neurol Res. 2017 Jun;39(6):559-565. doi: 10.1080/01616412.2017.1315864. Epub 2017 May 1. PMID: 28460563.
  5. Zhai Z, Liu Y, Wu L, et al. Enhancement of innate and adaptive immune functions by multiple Echinacea species. J Med Food. 2007;10(3):423-434. doi:10.1089/jmf.2006.257
  6. Schapowal A, Berger D, Klein P, Suter A. Echinacea/sage or chlorhexidine/lidocaine for treating acute sore throats: a randomized double-blind trial. Eur J Med Res. 2009;14(9):406-412. doi:10.1186/2047-783x-14-9-406
  7. Jurenka JS. Anti-inflammatory properties of curcumin, a major constituent of Curcuma longa: a review of preclinical and clinical research. Altern Med Rev. 2009 Jun;14(2):141-53. Erratum in: Altern Med Rev. 2009 Sep;14(3):277. PMID: 19594223.
  8. Poolsup N, Suksomboon N, Paw NJ. Effect of dragon fruit on glycemic control in prediabetes and type 2 diabetes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2017;12(9):e0184577. Published 2017 Sep 8. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0184577
  9. Song H, Zheng Z, Wu J, Lai J, Chu Q, Zheng X. White Pitaya (Hylocereus undatus) Juice Attenuates Insulin Resistance and Hepatic Steatosis in Diet-Induced Obese Mice. PLoS One. 2016;11(2):e0149670. Published 2016 Feb 25. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149670
  10. Oliynyk S, Oh S. Actoprotective effect of ginseng: improving mental and physical performance. J Ginseng Res. 2013;37(2):144-166. doi:10.5142/jgr.2013.37.144
  11. Klein G, Kim J, Himmeldirk K, Cao Y, Chen X. Antidiabetes and Anti-obesity Activity of Lagerstroemia speciosa. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2007;4(4):401-407. doi:10.1093/ecam/nem013
  12. Nova E, Redondo-Useros N, Martínez-García RM, Gómez-Martínez S, Díaz-Prieto LE, Marcos A. Potential of Moringa oleifera to Improve Glucose Control for the Prevention of Diabetes and Related Metabolic Alterations: A Systematic Review of Animal and Human Studies. Nutrients. 2020;12(7):2050. Published 2020 Jul 10. doi:10.3390/nu12072050
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