What are healthy eating timings according to Ayurveda ?

Krya blog post on healthy eating timings in ayurveda
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Reading Time: 11 minutes

A common misconception we hear at Krya is about healthy eating timings to follow and meal choice at each time. Today the Media is full of advice on nutrition and guides to healthy eating. Different theories abound on calculating protein and carbohydrate content of food, eating unpolished grains and ensuring higher nutrition by eating raw, unprocessed foods. It is no wonder that many of us are confused and seek advice on ahara and ahara niyama.

Is the diet and nutritional advise out there just confusing you

A key part of Ahara niyama in Ayurveda is the selection of proper / healthy eating timings. This influences the capacity to digest food, and our capacity to extract nutrients from food.

In fact, choosing the correct time to eat each meal has  a similar influence as choosing what to eat, on our health. In other words, we should spend the same amount of time planning when to eat as planning what to eat

In this post, we will see why Ayurveda pays so much attention to good eating timings and how we can improve our health and well-being by working out a healthy eating time schedule for us and our family.

Selection of healthy eating timings: Different Doshas influence different day parts

Ayurveda tells us that each day is divided into 4 hour dayparts. Each of these dayparts is connected to the slow rise, peaking and then falling of a particular dosha in our body.

Dosha surge in body corresponds to day part

The strength of the surge in the Dosha depends upon the movement of the Sun. So, for example, if there is Sunshine during a Kapha period, the effect of Kapha is slightly reduced. Similarly, if there is good Sunshine, say during a Pitta daypart, Pitta will be much more aggravated due to the influence of the sun.

In order to take advantage of these natural surges in a particular Dosha, we are advised to do certain activities during certain day parts. Our body’s internal workings also take advantage of the dosha surges in day parts.

As long as we do not tamper with our internal clock by eating at inappropriate times or sleeping at inappropriate times, we can be sure that our body is always working to ensure that we stay in good health and harmony.

An example is to wake up during a Vata day part and eat during a Pitta day part. Pitta influenced day parts are ideally suited to digest and process food. Hence a pitta day part makes perfect sense and is ideal  for our heaviest / largest meal.

Similarly, waking up during a Vata day part ensures we are able to utilize the creativity, enthusiasm and high energy that such a day part offers us.

Waking up in a Vata influenced day part helps provdie teh body with energy, and creativity

This is why our Acharyas recommend waking up during Brahma Muhurtha ( 90 minutes before sunrise) – by design Brahma Muhurta occurs after during the peak surge plus gradual drop of Vata dosha.

Waking up this time therefore gives us high energy, mental clarity and freshness through the day. In fact, many commentators say that waking up during this times allows for a “dosha re-balance” that is close to your natural state.

Selection of healthy eating timings: Choosing the correct Pitta day part for our heaviest meals

The process of kindling of appetite, production of salivary and gastric enzymes, digestion, absorption of nutrients and separation of food into useful and non useful by-products that eventually leave the body, are ALL governed by Pitta dosha and its various branches.

Pitta dosha is strongly influenced by the sun as “Agni” is one of the 2 Pancha mahaboothas that make up Pitta dosha. Therefore when the Sun reaches its Peak, with maximum Agni, the Pitta in our body is also at its peak, around noon.

Pitta energy peaks at noon due to the movement of the sun

So ideally, the correct time for our heaviest meal should be Noon.

But here comes a problem.

In traditional times, we ate one / two meals a day. In modern times this has been stretched to 3 meals of breakfast, lunch and dinner with sometimes 2 – 3 small meals / snacks between these meals.

Breakfast is usually around 8 am. Lunch around noon time and dinner is again around 8 pm. Many of us may also additionally snack on fruit juices, buttermilk, fruits, nuts and seeds or even cooked snacks between these 3 main meals.

Are you etaing many small meals on mistaken nutritional advice?

 Hence we may be overloading our body with food at the unhealthy eating timings – this leads to Ama build up in the body and weakens digestive fire.

Also, as many of us are stressed for time in the busy morning, we reserve our largest meal for our evening meal, i.e Dinner. Many families / friends also go out to Dinner during weekends to bond and catch up over food. This is great from the point of view of building relationships, but not so great from the point of your Digestive Agni and build up of Ama (toxins in the body).

There is a strong chance of over-eating and eating the wrong food for this day part in these occasions, leading to Ama build up in the body. 

Eating with groups of people at Dinner may cuase us to overeat, increaisng chances of Ama in the body

How to utilize the 2 Pitta day-parts everyday to make a healthy eating time table?

Ayurveda tells us that there are 2 Pitta strong dayparts in the day, 10 am – 2 pm in the morning and 10 pm – 2 am at night. The first Pitta daypart peaks at 12 noon approximately and the other at 12 midnight. As the Pitta peak coming at midnight is dampened by the absence of the sun, the BEST and MOST IDEALLY STRONG digestive Agni occurs at noon, in the day time.

So we should eat our heaviest meal of the day, as close to Noon time as possible . At this time, if we eat the right Ahara for our prakriti, there is the greatest chance for this food to be well digested, and properly absorbed with high nutrient retention inside the body.

Eating at teh correct time in the correct quantity strongly influences nutrient absorption in the body

 

What happens during the second Pitta day part at night?

In normal circumstances, the Pitta peak at midnight is utilized by the body to “tune up” Pitta organs like the Liver ,Spleen, etc. This repair and maintenance activity is ONLY done if Digestion is fully complete.

It takes the body upto 3 – 4 hours to digest a single meal fully. This timing slows down if the meal is extremely heavy, improper for our prakriti, improper for the Ritu, or contains a high amount of Guru foods (curd, sweets, red meat, etc), Or if Agni is weak / impaired due to Wrong Ahara and Wrong Ahara Niyama.

If the body is engaged in Digestion at the second Pitta time, the maintenance of Liver , spleen and Other Pitta organs DOES NOT TAKE Place. Habitually eating late means that these organs are under a severe strain without the time or space given to do their maintenance. This puts the body’s health under duress.

Eating at teh correct time also allows the body to do its regular maintenance activities

The ability of the body to digest is weakened severely post Sunset. So we are advised to have the lightest meal of the day as Dinner, and NOT the heaviest as is ritually the case with many of us.

It is also wise not to go out to eat for Dinner, experiment with new cuisines which may be heavy / difficult to digest or eat socially (as we often end up over eating in these situations). Instead we can reserve these activities for Noon, when our Digestive Fire + the sun can help us digest such experimental meals.

Choosing healthy eating timings: Effect on Agni + Ama when Kapha is aggravated

 In the normal course of events, we have only one Pitta rich day part to eat and digest a meal properly. Our other 2 commonly eaten meals of breakfast and dinner are BOTH in Kapha dominant dayparts of 6 am to 10 am, and 6 pm – 10 pm, respectively.

Kapha aggravation can produce “Mandagni” (reduced digestive fire), tamasic thoughts especially when food is tamasic, sloth, laziness and weight gain when ahara is improper.

In cases of Mandagni, the Agni is in a doused and weak condition. Its ability to digest food and absorb nutrients is extremely poor. So even if we feed the healthiest and best food to our body when it is in a state of Mandagni, it will be of little use to us. The body will generate Ama instead of digesting the food as the Agni is unable to handle the digestion process.

Instead of being fully digested, Food may be only partially digested. The undigested food will putrefy inside the system producing bloating, inflammation, and reducing the appetite and increasing heaviness in the body.

Heavy eating at peak kapha periods can increase chances of Mandagni in the body

This is why the combination of improper ahara and eating during a peak Kapha period is the precursor to an Ama disaster in the body.  The evening Kapha period when we have dinner is far worse than the morning Kapha period when we have breakfast.

The morning Kapha period, is weaker in the kapha surge. This is due to the presence of the Sun and increased activity on our part . This is why we have less trouble digesting our breakfast compared to digesting our dinner.

In the evening time, as the sun sets, Kapha dominance becomes extremely strong and our activity levels are on the wane . The later we eat, the worse our digestive capacity / food absorption is going to be.

Ahara Niyama (Eating guidelines) as per Ayurveda:

Here is an Ayurvedic recommendation for meals:

Breakfast moderately, lunch well, and eat dinner very sparingly.

To repeat: Eat a moderate breakfast, a good lunch and a sparing dinner

Any fruits, or in-between meal snacks should ONLY be eaten if there is good hunger and appetite. Do NOT eat because you have read that eating 6 small meals is healthy or that it is good for you “to graze”. Grazing animals have a completely different digestive system – we cannot follow their method of eating through the day.

Ideally all meals should be freshly made and hot as per Ayurveda. However, because both our breakfast and dinner is eaten during a Kapha surge, please eat food that is freshly cooked and hot. At these meals, the body’s ability to digest stale meals is impaired. Stale meals are higher in “gurutva” as per Ayurveda, so they are more difficult to breakdown and can quickly aggravate Kapha.

 

Freshly made, hot food id recommended for breakfats and dinner to counter the effect of Kapha surge

During breakfast and dinner,  Kapha rich foods like sweets, cakes, desserts, sweet fruits,  meats and foods like curd should be avoided. Any manner of cold / refrigerated food , cold drinks should also be reduced / avoided. If leftover rice is being used from the morning, we advise that you re-wash and re-steam the rice to remove some of its “gurutva” (heaviness).  

avoid kapha triggering foods like desserts and sweets during Dinner

Avoid difficult to digest food like raw food, highly complex cereals, and heavy lentils like Rajma, Channa, etc, for Dinner. They can be eaten in very small quantities occasionally at Breakfast, only if Digestive fire is good and activity level is high.

Choosing healthy eating timings: Recommendations by Prakriti

Aggravated Kapha / Kapha leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

For those with Kapha leaning prakriti or Kapha aggravation (weight issues, poor hair growth) we suggest eating Dinner as early as possible within the evening Kapha cycle.  

For example, eating at 7 pm means that only 1 hour has passed in the Kapha cycle of 4 hours. But eating at 9, means that the body has had 3 hours to accumulate Kapha – so digestive fire needs to be more intense to combat the coldness wetness and heaviness produced by the natural Kapha upsurge in the body.

Eat eraly dinners if Kapha prakriti is high

Apart from eating as early as possible, food must be light, well cooked, warm and devoid of kapha aggravating foods. Foods that are rich in oils, nuts and seeds, sweet foods, etc must not be eaten at Dinner.

Deepana & Pachana herbs that are recommended for Vata prakriti can also be used. In addition, mildly sour foods help kindle appetite and reduce Mandagni for this prakriti. So food can be flavoured with local tomatoes, lemon, small amount of ripe tamarind, etc. Well churned, well diluted buttermilk can also be taken at night.

Aggravated Vata / Vata leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

Vata leaning and Vata aggravated individuals have “Vishama agni” (Inconsistent Agni). So they will find that their appetite, ability to digest food, etc greatly varies from day to day. So here, apart from ensuring Dinner is eaten early and Kapha aggravating foods are avoided, the Agni needs to be trained and brought under control.

Vata leaning and vata aggravated individuals often have weak and dry hair, poor skin texture, suffers from bone and joint aches and disorders, abnormal skin darkening, gas, bloating, etc.

For such individuals, it is especially important to eat Deepana (appetite kindling) and Pachana (digestive) spices along with their evening meal and eat freshly cooked, hot, light , appetizing food. This food must be eaten at the same time every day as a habit. Training the body with regular meal timings and proving deepana and pachana herbs along with tasty food brings Vishama Agni under control.

Deepana and Pachana herbs and spices are excellent for Vata prakritis

Deepana and Pachana herbs that help Vishama Agni are Maricha (black pepper), Pippali (long pepper), Sunthi (dry ginger), Jeera (cumin), Curry leaf, hingu (asafetida), Black salt (small doses) and Saindhava Lavana (rock salt).

Aggravated Pitta / Pitta leaning prakriti – healthy eating timings:

Pitta aggravated / Pita leaning individuals are very sensitive to changes in eating timings and are most affected by improper dinner timings. Such individuals suffer from premature greying, hair thinning, gastritis, acidity, anger management issues, Blood pressure, acne, skin sensitivity, sun burn, etc.

Why is late dinner so problematic for Pitta aggravated/ Pitta leaning individuals?

We often find that Pitta dominant people never have a problem with appetite, but when they eat late, they develop gastric, acidity, sour belching etc. This is because of 2 reasons:

The later we eat in the Kapha cycle, we need to utilize more Pitta energy to combat Kapha upsurge. This is already high in Pitta leaning people – so they will extract MORE Pitta energy simply to digest their food.

The second reason is that after the Kapha cycle, we are in the beginning of the second Pitta cycle which starts at 10 pm. If we eat at say 9:30, instead of Pitta energy being used up and subdued after digestion if we had eaten at 7 pm, we will experience a second wind in Pitta at 10 pm. This will excite Pitta further. This also keeps us awake, gives us poor sleep as the body is engaged in energy intensive digestion at this time, instead of repair and regeneration of important pitta organs like liver, spleen, etc which is usually the case.

Pitta aggravated / leaning individuals do very well when they have a fresh, warm meal around 8 pm without any Pitta aggravating dravyas. Such people should avoid eating fried / oily food, sour food, salty food and other Pitta aggravating foods at night.

Avoid exciting Pitta dosha heavily for Pitta individuals during dinner

Suggestions for Pitta-Kapha aggravated individuals:

For many people with high Pitta-Kapha imbalance (Acne, PCOD / PCOS, pre-diabetes, etc), we advise completing dinner before 8 pm, and then drinking a glass of hot water about 30 minutes before sleep around 9:45 pm – 10 pm.

This has a stomach clearing effect, and aids elimination of toxins out of the body. This should not be done very late and strongly into the Pitta night period as it could the re-stimulate Pitta dosha. This is why we suggest doing this at the beginning of the Pitta day part or earlier, depending upon your eating timing.

To sum up: healthy eating timings for all based on ayurveda

We hope you found this post on choosing the healthy eating timings as per Ayurveda useful. We also hope this post gave you easy to implement modifications in both your selection of food and also when and how to eat your meals depending upon your prakriti.

An ideal suggestion as per Ayurveda is to eat by 7 pm, and go to sleep BEFORE the second Pitta surge starts at 10 pm. This is most ideal for rest, recuperation, good sleep and energy the next morning. If this is not possible, we must atleast avoid eating close to 10 pm and try and complete dinner around the half mark of the Kapha period, which is 8 pm.

We often say that Ayurveda is a holistic , health giving science. As we can see in this post, the acharyas have thought through every aspect of human existence and have given painstakingly accurate, logical and holistic suggestions to maintain health and well being.

We hope you too found the suggestions given in this post useful for your and your family. If you have any questions on this, please email us.

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Pitta Balancing Diet Part 2: pitta channelizing Dravyas & Spices

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Reading Time: 9 minutes

A pitta imbalance is responsible for many skin and hair conditions we see today like premature greying, hair thinning, heat rashes, acne, etc. Pitta imbalance is also the cause behind gastritis, GERD, IBS and high Blood Pressure.

Pitta imbalance leads to agner management issues and other hair, skin & health issues

Whenever we see signs of dosha imbalance reflected in skin and hair, it makes sense to correct the diet so we do not further overload the body. When these diet modifications are adopted ALONG with good quality ayurvedic oils and choornas, and external products and Dinacharya practices are followed, we can see a good improvement in the skin and hair condition. It can also positively impact internal issues as well.

Dravyas and Spices which are pitta channelizing:

In the first part of this series on Balancing Pitta through food,  we saw how introducing certain Rasas (tastes) into the food, helped balance aggravated Pitta dosha. Apart from this, aggravated Pitta always means that Agni is not channelized properly in the body. Aggravated Pitta dosha can travel and irritate other organ systems like skin, hair etc, as the Fire in the body is TOO high.

Aggravated pitta flows through the body aggravating other organ systems

Therefore, an important part of keeping Pitta in check is to channelise the flow of Fire (Agni) in the body. This makes the difference between an out of control forest fire which how aggravated Pitta dosha can be visualised vs a steadily burning , lamp , which represents Pitta in balance.

Dravyas and spices that are pitta channelizing help rein in and control Agni, improving the ability of Pitta dosha to work in the body and enhance metabolism and nutrient extraction while eating.

When pitta is balanced, it regulates all organ systems and keeps teh body in health & harmony

 

This is why reining in Pitta is very tricky – we cannot abruptly cool, freeze or totally bring down Pitta in the body as it is vital for digestion, metabolism , warmth and life in the body. So controlling excess Pitta does not mean dousing our Fire. It means subtly altering the fire and controlling it by using fire subduing rasas (tastes) AND by channelizing the fire by using certain spices and cooking methods.

Pitta should not be doused or frozen.

We saw some of these dravyas when we read about how the use of Opposite rasas can pull down aggravated Pitta, like Ghee. But these Dravyas are so critical to a Pitta Shramana diet, that we have discussed them separately again here.

Dairy based Dravyas for pitta channelizing:

Milk, Ghee and Buttermilk prepared to be pitta channelizing (Well churned, non-sour, watered down) are 3 important agni balancing dravyas that should be a part of a Pitta shramana diet.

All 3 of these should be preferably made from non pasteurised, organic A2 cow’s milk at home and not bought outside. We will put up a separate post on how these 3 dravyas can be taken by different Prakriti based individuals for best effect.

Carefully sourced and processed dairy help channelize pitta well

Milk (Ksheera) for pitta channelizing:

Warm, freshly boiled milk sourced ethically from an Indian desi cow is considered an elixir. It is prana positive, ojas building and is “brhmana” or nutritive and nourishing to the body and is also pitta channelizing. Depending upon your capacity to digest milk, you can have one or 2 small glasses of Milk a day as a meal in itself.

Desi cow milk is an elixer

Milk should ideally be had on an empty stomach and considered a full meal in itself. Most of us are unused to drinking plain Milk. So we recommend starting with a small glass (50 ml) of Milk , first thing in the morning to start with.

If you have any pre-existing health conditions like Diabetes, please check with your health practitioner before starting on this.

Given below are milk processing techniques for different prakritis.

Milk for Kapha leaning prakriti:

If you are overweight or have a strong leaning towards Kapha prakriti (catches colds and coughs often, tendency to put on weight) or have been diagnosed with Kapha disorders like hypothyroidism, PCOD, etc, please try this Milk combination. for effective pitta channelizing.

Boil Milk with 25% water added until the water evaporates. This is the basic ayurvedic milk boiling technique. 

Flavour this milk with a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of freshly ground black pepper. Drink warm and unsweetened. Drink this first thing in the morning after bowel movement, around 6 am – a small glass (50 – 75 ml) would do.

Turmeric and black pepper are ideal for milk for kapha prakriti

Give a gap of atleast 2 hours before eating breakfast and do your daily exercise in this time.

Milk for Vata leaning Prakriti:

If you are underweight, restless, prone to insomnia and are easily stressed, have panic attacks, etc, please try this Milk combination to channelize aggravated pitta.

Boil Milk in the ayurvedic way as given above.

To this Milk, please add a pinch of pepper, 1 – 2 roasted and powdered cardamom pods and organic mishri (sulpharless sugar). Start with 50 ml, and gradually build it up as you find your absorption level improving. You can drink upto 150 ml of Milk / day for this prakriti. however, Vata leaning individuals have varying digestive capacity – so the body must be gradually accustomed to this drink.

Cardamom and sugar should be used to spice milk for vata prakriti

Drink this milk after bowel movements, first thing in the morning. Gentle yogic exercises should follow, 30 minutes after this drink.

Milk for Pitta leaning Prakriti:

If you have stable body weight, are neither under / over weight and are generally Pitta prakriti prone, please try this Milk combination for pitta channelizing.

Boil Milk the ayurvedic way, as given above.

To this Milk, please add a small amount of sugar (sugar level in between Kapha and Vata Milk), and a powdered spice mix of 1 elaichi pod, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of pepper and 2 pinches of dhania (coriander seeds) powder, roasted and ground. Pitta leaning individuals can start with 75 ml and go upto 125 ml of Milk.

Dhania and pepper should be used to process milk for Pitta prakriti

Do light household chores after this Milk (if unused to Milk) like light sweeping, folding of clothes, clearing up, watering plants, etc. and then go onto yoga.

Ghee (Go Ghrita) to balance Pitta:

A2 organic ghee is an elixir to the body. Small amounts of melted ghee help rein in aggravated pitta, channelizes pitta better, help the body absorb nutrients better and improve metabolism. This view of Ghee is not shared by Allopaths and Western Medicine. If you have a pre-existing Medical condition that frowns upon the use of Ghee, please check with your health practitioner before starting on this.

For those in good health, Ayurveda advises adding ghee to every meal. 1 – 1.5 teaspoons of melted cow ghee can be added to every meal. This helps each meal to be absorbed and assimilated better by the body. This is especially useful when Pitta is aggravated.

We have a longer, more detailed post explaining how Ghee should be sourced, why it is important to source Desi, A2 cow ghee. Please go through this post.

Takra (well churned buttermilk) to channelize pitta:

Ayurveda lists many ways of preparing Takra (buttermilk). This varies depends upon the prakriti of the individual. However, to be on the safe side, and to ensure Takra can be had by all, we suggest making well churned, fat free Takra (buttermilk).

Curd is considered Pitta-kapha aggravating and abhisyandi (producing excessive mucous secretion) as per Ayurveda. Hence it is prohibited for everyone , except in certain health conditions. When eaten, it must be eaten only in certain seasons and only with the addition of certain dravyas in it to reduce some of its harmful effects. We will delve into this in a separate post.

Curd is pitta kapha aggravating as per ayurveda

But when we churn curd with water and extract butter from it, we get Takra or buttermilk. The ayurvedic qualities of Takra are very different from Curd. Takra is astringent to the body although it is also slightly “ushna” or hot in nature.

Hence, it is allowed only in measured quantities for Pitta aggravation, provided the curd it is made from is freshly made and not sour. This Takra can be had 2 – 3 times a week or even everyday if Pitta aggravation is not too high. It helps reduce inflammations, and is very useful in conditions like Hemorrhoids, which is a common Pitta complaint.

Buttermilk or takra is slightly hot, digetsive and astringent as per Ayurveda

How to make Takra:

Watered down Takra is made by adding 4 – 6 parts Water to freshly set, home made, full-fat, desi A2 curd and churning at slow speed in a mixer or using a hand blender. The butter that separates should be carefully strained and removed and can be stored aside to make ghee.

The churning is an important part of the ayurvedic process to transform Curd into Takra.

Churn curd until butter separates to make buttermilk

The strained Takra is seasoned with rock salt, roasted jeera powder, pepper, black salt, etc, depending upon the need, and then consumed. Do not drink chilled or ice cold Takra – it is better to allow curd to come to room temperature before making Takra.

Properly prepared and spiced Takra is extremely Pitta channelizing. It is digestive and carminative in nature without overloading Pitta dosha and sharply aggravating Pitta’s qualities.

Agni balancing spices:

In our earlier post on Pitta aggravating foods, we had discussed how certain spices like cayenne pepper, red and green chillies, etc severely aggravate Pitta as they are ”teekshna” (intense), “katu” (spicy) and “ushna” (hot) in nature.

However, spices are essential in cooking as per Ayurveda. They help enhance taste, cut down some of the undesirable qualities of food , and help kindle Agni and also help metabolise food better.

For pitta aggravation, Ayurveda recommends using the following spices: Rock salt, Pepper, Jeera, Curry Leaf, Dhania (leaf and seed). Additionally spices like Fennel ,Elaichi and Cardamom can also be used.

Certain spices like Jeera help channelise Pitta dosha very well

Rock Salt:

Rock salt (saindhav lavana) is considered to have a cooling effect on the body , which is unusual given its taste. Hence it is recommended by Acharya Charaka to be used everyday in meals. Rock Salt is much better for health than using refined, chemical salts which are commonly available in a super market. This is also available as Himalayan salt, Himalayan Pink salt, or plain Rock Salt.

Saindhava lavana is a pitta balancing salt

Ayurveda tells us that using the right salt , in quantities that are appropriate for our prakriti, aids digestion. Saindhava lavana improves digestion, aids metabolism, clears blocked channels, and aids nutrient absorption. Hence when Saindhav lavana is properly used it is pitta channelizing.

If we use too much of even Saindhava lavana we aggravate Pitta dosha. If we use iodized table salt, even in small amounts, we SEVERELY aggravate Pitta dosha. If we eat hotel food, which is often laced with high amounts of MSG, we are even MORE SEVERELY aggravating Pitta. If we eat food preserved in Vinegar and commercial salt like pickles, pickled vegetables and even so-called healthy foods like Kimchi, we are adding Petrol to the Forest Fire.

MSG laced foods aggravate Pitta severely

Mildly Ushna Spices:

Maricha (pepper) and Jeera (Cumin) are ushna  (hot), and digestive spices. However, they are considered essential for aiding digestion, taste and metabolism. When used in small amounts they help channelise Pitta and do not set it on edge. But spices like chillies, cayaenne pepper, commercial salt and vinegar all aggravate Pitta. Hence, “teekshna” or intense Pitta aggravating spices should be replaced with these Ushna, Pitta channelizing spices instead.

Digestive, Pitta balancing spices:

Certain spices like Dhania seeds, Fennel seeds, Elaichi are only mildly ushna and Pitta balancing in nature. These should be an essential part of a Pitta balancing diet and should be used to spice and season food as often as possible.

Spices like fennel should be used to make pitta balancing spice blends

For Pitta aggravation, it is worth replacing traditional masalas with specially made masalas that use the above spices. For example, Sambhar powder can be made using Mung dal(roasted) instead of Tuvar dal and pepper instead of red chilies to suit and balance Pitta aggravation.

To sum up – channelizing pitta through certain foods & spices:

In the second part of our Pitta balancing through food series, we explored the properties of Dairy based dravyas like Milk, Takra and Ghee and also looked at how they should be processed to suit various prakritis. We also looked at the benefits of a few Pitta balancing spices and seasoning substances like Rock Salt and understood their role in pitta channelizing restoring the body to a state of harmony.

Ahara niyama (food rules) are essential to maintain health and well being according to Ayurveda. The Samhitas tell us that these niyama should be subtly altered as per our individual prakriti to ensure that we what we eat support and heals our body, restoring it to a state f balance.

Pitta aggravation is a common aggravation we come across at Krya – this leads to certain skin and hair issues like premature greying, oily scalp, hair thinning, skin allergies, rashes, acne, etc. When this aggravation is tackled through food, lifestyle and external products, there is a much more holistic sense of balance achieved by the body. Therefore we are able to tackle skin and hair problems much faster.

In the 3rd part of this series, we will explore how controlling meal timings can greatly help control aggravated Pitta. We will also look at sample menu plans we could adopt if we would like to balance aggravated Pitta dosha.

For help choosing the right hair and skin products to control aggravated Pitta dosha, please call us (0-75500-89090) or write to us.

 

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Pitta balancing diet Part 1: Using specific Rasas (tastes) to balance Pitta

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Reading Time: 7 minutes

If you are suffering from a visible Pitta imbalance like premature greying, acne outbreaks, then a Pitta balancing diet can help holistically heal your condition. Ayurveda believes in following a holistic approach to understanding skin and hair issues. Hair and skin reflects the body’s state of balance. Diet, emotional well being, quality of sleep, quality of daily Vyayama (exercise) all affect the body. These factors create changes in the subtle alignment of doshas in our body. This reflects in the quality of our skin or hair.

Pitta dosha: qualities and life stage

Pitta is “snigdha” (oily), “teekshna” (sharp), “ushna” (hot), “laghu” (light) “vishra” (mal-odourous), “sara“ ( flowing / laxative), and “drava” (liquid).

Hence when we have Pitta aggravation in our body, we could experience sharp discomfort in the abdomen, diarrhoea, gastritis, temper flares, strong body odour, high sweating, oiliness on hair and skin, etc. We could also develop acne flare ups, experience premature greying & also hair thinning.

Pitta aggravation can cause strong body odour

Ayurveda tells us that every lifestage is dominant in a certain dosha. Middle age, i.e. 30 – 60 years is considered Pitta dominant lifestage. In this age period, we naturally tend to harness and utilise Pitta’s qualities to help us focus on our career, manage our responsibilities, etc. Hence at this stage, we become even more sensitive to Pitta aggravation.

Pitta aggravating foods:

We had written earlier in detail about foods that trigger or aggravate Pitta in the body. This includes fermented foods, salty foods, spicy foods, and sour foods. We have a pretty detailed list of don’ts in the earlier blog post. This list includes commercial packaged RTE foods which are high in hidden salts and imported delicacies like Greek yoghurt, tahini sauce and hummus.

Consumption of these foods is tolerable when our doshas in balance. At this time, Pitta drayvyas help stimulate appetite, aid digestion and allow for appropriately timed digestion in the body. The problem occurs when we have already aggravated Pitta dosha.

In a Pitta aggravated person, a single helping of curd or 2 meals with idlis and dosas in them can act like a lit match on a petrol doused bundle. Pitta sharply flares up and you will notice an increase in rage issues, skin oiliness, breakouts and inability to switch off and sleep on time.

A single helping of curd can tip teh balance if you are already pitta aggravated

Basics of a Pitta balancing diet:

The Pitta balancing diet is based on 3 principles to help balance aggravated Pitta:

  • Introduce Tastes (Rasas) that are opposite to Pitta to bring Pitta down
  • Introduce Agni balancing dravyas and Spices
  • Ensure Pitta is not spiked by controlling meal timings

Each of these work in a slightly different way to harmonise aggravated Agni. In this post , we will explore the use of Rasa (tastes) to help balance aggravated Pitta dosha.

 

Using Opposing Tastes (Rasas) to balance Pitta:

A Pitta balancing diet uses “bitter”, “sweet” and “astringent” tastes that act like a countermeasure to Pitta which is “amla” (sour), “lavana” (salty) and “katu” (spicy) in taste. The tastes are added in this order: Bitter, Sweet and Astringent for best effect on aggravated Pitta.

 

Using Bitter taste “Tikta Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Bitter taste (Tikta rasa) is very pitta balancing. Bitter taste has the quality of “dryness”, coolness” and “lightness”. Hence it helps balance the oiliness and heat caused by aggravated Pitta dosha. Therefore, including foods, herbs and seasonings which are rich in Tikta rasa, is an essential part of a Pitta balancing diet.

Many local vegetables and greens are inherently “Tikta” in rasa. For example, parwal, lauki, ridge gourd, ash gourd are native gourds. All of these gourds have an inherent “tikta” or bitter rasa. These vegetables can be added to vegetable / dal dishes to impart a bitter taste to food.

Local gourds are naturally rich in Tikta rasa

 

“Shukto” and Vempampoo-rasam (Neem flower rasam) are also examples of bitter rasa found in traditional cuisine. Neem flower rasam is introduced in Indian cuisine at the beginning of the onset of Summer, when Pitta is high.

Traditional cooking also has included many tikta rasa rich dishes seasonally

Certain spices and seasonings also have a “tikta rasa”. An example is fenugreek seed which is recommended to be eaten by diabetics and pre-diabetics in Ayurveda. Bitter rasa in moderate amounts is useful to control Pitta aggravation and Kapha aggravation. Similarly, rosemary, oregano and parsley seasoning also has a mild Tikta rasa.

Tikta dravyas can aggravate Vata dosha when eaten in excess and cause dryness in the body. Hence, as always, please follow moderation when planning your meals.

Some examples of Tikta Rasa dravyas:

  • Vegetables
    • Bitter gourd
    • Methi greens
    • Parwal
    • Lauki (Bottle gourd)
    • Ash gourd (white pumpkin)
    • Ridge gourd
    • Non sour locally available greens
  • Spices & seasonings
    • Turmeric
    • Fenugreek seed
    • Rosemary
    • Oregano
    • Thyme

Turmeric is rich in Tikta rasa and is highly nutritious

  • Ayurvedic Tikta Herbs used in Krya products
    • Neem
    • Neem flower
    • Kalmegh
    • Vetiver
    • Sandalwood

Sandal is cleansing and good for skin and high in tikta rasa

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Tikta (bitter) foods  to craft a Pitta balancing diet :

  • Local gourds added to liquid / gravy dishes in a rotational basis like Lauki, Parwal, etc
  • Use of Tikta herbs in cooking to season food like turmeric, Fenugreek, etc
  • Occasional use of Tikta dried herbs to flavour food like Rosemary, Thyme, etc wherever appropriate

Include seasonal local gourds into your cuisine

Using Sweet taste “Madhura Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Madhura Rasa is “guru” (heavy), “sheetya” (cold), “snigdha” (oily) and is nourishing and grounding due to the predominance of Prithvi Panchamahabootha. Hence it helps calm down and ground aggravated Pitta. This does not mean that we should gorge on desserts and sweets. These are artificially sweet due to the presence of sugar in them. In Ayurveda, when we say “Sweet” or “Madhura rasa”, we mean that the tongue recognises the substance as “sweet” (Rasa) and that its taste post digestion in the body (Vipaka) is also sweet.

An example of this is Milk. A2 cows milk when freshly boiled has Madhura Rasa (tongue taste) and Madhura vipaka (taste post digestion). Hence it is used to balance Pitta aggravation in the diet.

As Madhura Rasa is also “snigdha”, eating too much of this can trigger excess oiliness and heaviness in the body. Hence do not eat artificially sweet substances, or eat too much of Madhura rasa.

Some other examples of Madhura dravya / Substances are the following:

  • Cereals
    • Aged rice
    • Aged Wheat
  • Sweeteners
    • Mishri (unprocessed sugar candy)
    • Guda (jaggery)
  • Vegetables
    • Fresh coconut pulp, milk and water
    • Naturally sweet Vegetables like sweet potato, beetroot, Kaddu (yellow pumpkin), carrot

Beets and naturally sweet vegetables are rich in Madhura rasa

  • Fruits
    • Dried Black Raisins (draksha) – Munakka variety
    • Seasonal Sweet, juicy fruits
  • Dairy
    • Freshly boiled , unpasteurised A2 cow milk
    • A2 ghee
  • Ayurvedic Madhura Herbs used in Krya products
    • Liquorice
    • Guda (Jaggery)
    • Guduchi (Madhura vipaka only)

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Madhura (sweet) foods in our diet to help balance aggravated Pitta.

  • Melted A2 cow ghee – across all meals in small amounts
  • A2 cows milk – unpasteurised and freshly boiled – one small glass everyday

 

A2 Cows milk is nourishing and madhura in nature

  • Seasonal sweet, juicy fruits
  • Rotation of Natural sweet vegetables
  • Carefully sourced Aged organic Rice and wheat
  • 2 – 3 soaked Munakka (large black grape) raisins 3 – 4 times a week

Dried raisin is an excellent pitta balancing dry fruit

 

Using Astringent taste “Kashaya Rasa” to balance excess Pitta:

Kashaya rasa is a taste that is most often missing in modern-day foods. This is an important rasa which is vital to our health. Foods rich in Kashaya rasa usually have a lekhaniya (scraping effect) and are very useful in healing the body of excess fat, fluid collection, inflammation, etc. Kashaya rasa has “rooksha” (drying), “sheetya” (cold) and “laghu” (light) qualities- hence it helps balance Pitta dosha.

Kashaya rasa is wound healing, absorbs excess secretions and clears mucous. It helps clarify the tongue and skin and is calming and healing to the body. It is also a good blood clarifier.

In excess, Kashaya rasa can be excessively drying and vata aggravating on the body. Please do not overindulge in this taste.

 

Some examples of Kashaya Rasa dravyas:

  • Vegetables
    • Broccoli
    • Lettuce
    • Fennel
    • Banana flower

Banana flower is naturally kashaya in nature

  • Fruits
    • Amla (Indian gooseberry)
    • Pomegranates (choose well ripened, sweet fruits and not sour)

Pomegranate is a medicinal fruit which has strong Kashaya rasa

  • Sweeteners
    • Honey
    • Indian Date – Kharik

Indian date is Kashaya in nature

  • Herbs & seasonings
    • Parsley
    • Coriander
    • Basil
  • Ayurvedic Kashaya herbs used in Krya products
    • Amla
    • Haritaki
    • Vibhitaki
    • Triphala(combination of above 3 herbs)
    • Khadira
    • Arjuna Twak (bark)
    • Lodhra Twak (bark)
    • Sappanwood

 

Meal plan suggestions:

From this list, we can look at including the following naturally Astringent (sweet) foods in our diet to create a Pitta balancing diet .

  • Amla made in different methods 2 – 3 times a week: Can be made as a raita (using buttermilk or thin curd), Chutney, Preserve, or as a souring agent into Dal / Sambhar

Include Amla in your diet frequently

  • Pomegranates – 2 times a week – choose sweet fruits only
  • Chutneys / Dips / Pesto made from Basil / Coriander – twice a week
  • Overnight soaked Khajoora eaten once / twice a week

 

To sum up:

In part 1 of our post describing the Pitta balancing diet, we explored how using specific Rasas (tastes) in your meals can help bring down aggravated Pitta.  Using rasas which have opposing qualities as that of Pitta help balance spiked Pitta levels and also bring in better nourishment and satiety to the body, improving health.

In the next part of our blog post, we will explore how using specific dravyas and spices like milk, ghee, coriander seeds, etc help counter excess Agni in the body. In the case of certain dravyas, we will also explore how different prakritis (body types) should have these dravyas for optimal health. Part 3 of our post will have detailed daily meal plan suggestions that can help you plan a Pitta balancing diet.

 

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