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If you're not familiar with the holistic system of medicine known as Ayurvedic medicine (or Ayurveda for short), don't worry — because Ayurvedic medicine practitioner and author of Super Woman Rx, Dr. Taz Bhatia, is here to tell us all about it.
WHAT IS AYURVEDIC MEDICINE?
"Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of medicine from India and it's really focused on merging your personality, your lifestyle, your health risk [and] your body type all together to give you a 'prescription' for your health," Dr. Taz says.
WHAT ARE SOME AYURVEDIC MEDICINE PRACTICES?
"Ayurveda diagnoses using types," the doc explains. "Typing is identifying who you are, and [in Ayurveda] they do it using a word called 'doshas.'"
THE THREE DOSHAS
The three main doshas are kapha, pitta and vata.
"Each dosha is a merge of your personality, your nutritional needs, your hormone imbalances that you might have," Dr. Taz says.
Strengths: Protective, loyal, loving
When in balance, kaphas are calm, thoughtful, patient, steady and supportive.
When out of balance, they can overstay or hold onto unhealthy or destructive relationships.
"Kaphas are nurturers. They're so busy protecting and loving everybody else. They're the center of a home, the center of a community. But guess what they do? They overcommit, they overstay in bad relationships — and that leads to depression," according to Dr. Taz.
Kaphas tend to be imbalanced in estrogen and insulin, which can contribute to weight gain and fatigue, the doc says. To combat this, they should avoid oily foods and heavy, dense carbs like pasta and rice. Instead, go for bitter, astringent, ingredients and plenty of fruits and veggies, Dr. Taz says.
Once you learn that you're a kapha, you want to eat foods that are going to go through the digestive system more easily, like vegetables and lean proteins.
Suggested foods for kaphas:
- Black beans
- Spices such as cinnamon, cumin, cardamom and turmeric
Foods kaphas should stay away from:
- Red meat
Strengths: Ambitious, confident, good decision makers
When in balance, pittas are commanding, directing and doing a lot of amazing things.
When out of balance, they can be short tempered, very irritable and even angry at times.
"The pittas are the boss ladies," Dr. Taz says.
Pittas' hormonal imbalances are typically the thyroid gland and melatonin, which can lead to insomnia and gut inflammation. To combat this (which can be tough), the key piece is eating cooling foods, much like the Mediterranean diet, according to Dr. Taz.
Once you learn that you're a pitta, you want to eat foods that will help cool your digestive system down and limit spices that can be "heating."
Suggested foods for pittas:
- Olive oil
- Cooling spices like cardamom, cilantro, coriander, fennel and mint
Foods pittas should stay away from:
- Hot spices like cayenne pepper and chili powder
- Hot peppers
- Sour fruits like grapefruit and berries
- Brown rice
Strengths: Creative, light, active
When in balance, vatas are known for movement and change and for having an energetic and creative mind.
When out of balance, if they're too active, they can go into overload and become anxious and exhausted.
"Vata actually means 'air,' so you're sort of in your head. You're creative, you're imagining, you're dreaming," Dr. Taz says. "But here's the problem: you're not connected to your body, so a lot of times you're not paying attention to what's happening with your health."
Adrenal glands can often be out of balance for vatas, which makes it hard for them to manage stress. "They get anxious, they have trouble focusing, they have a lot of brain fog," the doc says.
"You want warm foods. You don't want cold foods, because cold foods are really hard on the gut. And vatas actually have the weakest gut," according to Dr. Taz.
Once you learn that you're a vata, you should eat foods that help ground you. You want to have a variety of proteins and fat, along with grounding foods like root veggies. Staying well hydrated is also important.
Suggested foods for vatas:
- Sweet potatoes
- Warm oatmeal
Foods vatas should stay away from:
- Raw vegetables
- Coffee and caffeine
- Light fruit like apples and pears
All of the suggested lanes are relatively healthy foods that most types can benefit from, Dr. Taz points out. "But when we overdo one group of foods versus the other, that's when we get out of balance," she says. "So it's all about balance and moderation and really trying to understand that when you do get out of balance, you need to stay in that lane."