To maintain a healthy body an individual should follow a pattern of balanced diet. The food taken should comprise of all the six tastes or rasas in adequate amounts. The food should not only have a nourishing effect but also maintain equilibrium.
Ayurvedic Conception of Ideal Health
According to Ayurveda, a healthy person is one in whom there is a balance and harmony of doshas, agni and dhatus. Doshas – Vata, Pitta and Kapha have already been described earlier. Dhatus or biological tissue types are seven in number namely – Rasa, Rakta, Mamsa. Asthi, Majja, Medhas and Shukra. Each of these dhatus is for specific function (eg) Rasa dhatu required for the formation of blood,breast milk etc. Asthi is required for the proper functioning of bones. All the dhatus derive their nourishment from the food have the quality of nourishing specific dhatus. For example, Rasa dhatu is enriched by Shatavari (Asparagus) roots so this is recommended for lactating mothers. Specific Prakruthi types may be prone to problems related to particular dhatus. This has to be borne in mind while discussing the suitability of a diet for particular Prakruthi types. For example Kapha Prakruthi individuals tend to get flabby and put on excess weight – they should be careful to avoid/limit foods that would increase Mamsa dhatu – like meat foods.
Agni represents the digestive capacity and power. A proper agni is one of the most important indications of good health. Foods that have a greater amount of Teja dhatu increase the agni and those that have a greater amount of Jala or Prithvi tend to decrease the agni. Vata Prakruthi individuals tend to have an agni that is “unsteady” – sometimes weak and sometimes strong. This is in keeping with the nature of Vata, which by its very nature is unsteady. Kapha Prakruthi individuals have a weak agni and Pitta Prakruthi individuals have a strong agni. These should be borne in mind prescribing foods.
Prakruthi and Diet
Dietary requirement should be modified according to the Prakruthi (constitution) of the individual. In general an individual with Vata Prakruthi should take unctuous, warm, and sweet substances. An individual with Pitta Prakruthi should take cool, heavy, sweet, bitter and stringent food articles. An individual with Kapha Prakruthi should consume dry, warm, light, pungent, bitter and astringent taste predominant food articles. Food articles which are beneficial and non-beneficial to the three individual constitutions are discussed below.
The food articles which are beneficial to Vata Prakruthi are those that are unctuous, sweet and hot in properties. Cereals such as wheat, sesame; pulses such as black gram, green gram; milk products such as curd, ghee, butter, cheese; oils such as sesame oil, castor oil, cod liver oil; vegetable such as white gourd, drumstick, amorphophallus, onion, asparagus, radish; fruits such as mango, coconut, grapes, dated, pineapple, almonds, figs; spices such as mutton, pork,sardines, shark; fermented beverages prepared of wheat, grapes; prepared foods such as chappati, Iaddu, rice, blackgram vadai and sherbet are beneficial.
Food articles which are not beneficial to Vata Prakruthi are substances which are dry, cold and stringent in properties. Cereals such as barely, horse gram; pulses such as sprouted pulses, peas, masur, chana; vegetables such as dry leafy vegetables, potato, bitter gourd; fruit such as jamun, betelnut, cucumber, watermelon; spices such as chillies, pepper; dried fish and meat; honey and sugarcane juice are not beneficial.
Food article which are cold , dry, sweet and bitter are beneficial to Pitta Prakruthi. Cereals such as wheat, barley; pulses masur, greengram, channa; ghee, butter, fresh buttermilk; vegetables such as snake gourd, white gourd, carrot, beetroot; fruits such as gooseberry, dried grapes, apple, pomegranate, ripe bananas; old jaggery, sugar candy ; spices such as coriander, rock salt; meat of deer,Oung goat and rabbit are beneficial.
Food articles which are hot, pungent and sharp (teekshna) in properties are not beneficial to Pitta Prakruthi. Pulses such as blackgram, horsegram, sprouted pulses; sour curds and butter milk; beef, mutton,sea fish; vegetables such as bringal, drumstick, green leafy vegetables; fruits such as oranges, lime tamrind, unripe mango; spices such as garlic, pepper, chillies, asafoetida are not beneficial to Pitta Prakruthi individuals.
Food articles which arelight, hot dry, pungent in properties are beneficial to Kapha Prakruthi. Cereals such barely; pulses such as masur, horse gram, green gram; oil such as mustard oil, seasame oil; vegetables such as bitter gourd, drumstick, snake gourd, onions; fruits such as pomegranates, lemon; spices such as dry ginger; black cumin seeds, garlic, pepper; meat of deer; old wine and substances such as honey are beneficial to Kapha Prakruthi individuals.
Non – Beneficial Foods
Food articles which are sweet, cold, heavy and unctuous in property are not beneficial to Kapha Prakruti. Cereals such as fresh rice; pulses such as black gram; buffalo’s milk, curd, ghee, butter; oils from animal fat; vegetables such as sweet patato, cabbage; fruits such as banana, guava, grapes, coconut, jack fruit, ripe papaya; mutton, egg, fresh water fish; sugarcane juice jaggery; freshly prepared beverages and spices such as coriander are not beneficial to Kapha Prakruthi individual.
Prepared Foods Beneficial for Each Prakruthi Type
Kichadi, kanji (rice), chappati (white), puri(wheat), sambar, Iaddu, fresh ginger panaka, black gram vada, kabab, sherbet.
Preparation of ash gourd, sweet potato, fenugreek, cucumber, mutton soup, preparation of gooseberry, grapes, dated, wheat, rava and buttermilk.
Masur dhal soup, channa soup, preparation made of drumstick fruits and leaves, amorphophallus, brinjal, radish, snake gourd, horse gram, soup prepared of pulses, rassam, panakam made of pepper and dry ginger.