The modern-day health conscious brigade happens to be quite an experimentalist. They’ve got their fingers in various pies; from latest fad diets, lifestyle programs to holistic healing programs, there’s nothing that doesn’t pique their curiosity. And if you are wondering what’s their latest interest then you’d be surprised to know that it’s none other than our very own Ayurveda.
Ayurveda, which has been a part of the traditional Indian household for centuries, is now finding prominence among the millennials— from restaurants coming up with Ayurveda-based menus to the rise of Ayurveda based food bloggers. And we’d like to decode it.
“You first need to ask the question why Ayurveda lost prevalence in the modern age. Over the years, the knowledge wasn’t documented or recorded properly; or passed down through generation. Also, Ayurveda never got support in the academic world nor the practitioners were given any platform by the government for research and recovering the lost information”, says yoga Master and lifestyle coach Grand Master Akshar, who’s trained the likes of Sushmita Sen, Sunil Gavaskar, Geeta and Babita Phogat.
The general awareness and conscious consumption have been pivotal in the revival of Ayurveda; which simply lets us know what’s good and harmful for us at an individual level.
Ayurveda’s popularity isn’t just confined to its home—India. In fact, it’s soaring in the West. “Since it’s holistic in nature; it doesn’t have side-effects like other systems of medicine such as allopathy. Also, it’s economically sustainable. Hence, people prefer it in the West. In India, it’s because of social media and the rise of food Instagrammers, it’s getting mainstream attention”, adds Grand Master Akshar.
As more and more food Instagrammers in India become enamoured with Ayurveda; Chef Kartikeya Ratan says that “All people had to do was flip cartons of processed foods to realise how many carcinogens we were consuming on a daily basis. This general awareness and conscious consumption have been pivotal in the revival of Ayurveda; which simply lets us know what’s good and harmful for us at an individual level.
A healthy lifestyle isn’t the only thing that Ayurveda offers. “The conscious eater cares about the environment as well. Ayurveda is the epitome of ecological sustainability. Hence, it’s not the conscious eater who benefits but the food and beverage industry as well. Therefore, you are seeing a rise in Ayurveda based menus in hotels and restaurants”, says Chef Nishant Choubey.
There is also a change in the perception of Ayurveda, which has contributed to its rise. “In order for us to trust something, we need the West’s validation and approval. So, if it’s popular in the West, it’s popular in India. And that’s the irony. Ayurveda has been a part of our culture for more than 5000 years. However, we never looked into it until now when west has validated it”, says Ayurvedic practitioner Dr Vinayak Abbot. He furthers ads, “Earlier, there was this feeling of inferiority in comparison to the West, which is slowly changing”.
Ayurveda body types
Vata, Pitta and Kapha are known as the three doshas of the body. These three doshas together constitute the body. All of the three are present in each of us. It’s just the variation in the amount of Vata, Pitta and Kapha that we possess makes us different from each other.
This dosha is derived from the elements of space and air. It is the dosha with the movement property; the movement or motion is its peculiar property. It is the only doshas that keep our body active and moving, from merely blinking of eyelids to running a sprint all are controlled by Vata Dosha. The Vata dosha also gives movement to other doshas and help them move in the body.
Body frame is generally thin and lean. Hairs are dry and the person generally suffers from split ends. Skin is rough and dry; the complexion is not generally fair, it’s dark or blackish. Body weight of the person is less. It’s hard for Vata individual to put on weight.
Teeth of the person are irregular in shape, not very firm. A Vata person might suffer from sensitivity and bleeding gums.
Quick in thought, they are never found settled to be one place. For example— changing cities to jobs. They are never satisfied. Restless, get irritated quickly, have a weak memory and talkative in nature. They also have mood swings. They are also quick decision makers and have irregular sleep patterns.
- Opt for foods that are naturally sweet, sour, and salty in taste, warm freshly cooked meals
- Use spices such as ginger, black pepper, cinnamon and cumin but not extremely hot spices
- Dairy can be consumed as long as it’s not very cold. Avoid drinking milk with your meals. It is best to have it warm and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, at least an hour before or after other food
- Consume high-quality oils and ghee in your daily diet and have fixed timing for your meals
- Avoid food that is bitter, astringent, pungent and cooling in nature, dry and light in nature
- Avoid coffee, overeating, heavy meals, fried foods along with foods that contain sugar or corn syrup
This dosha is derived from the elements of fire and water. It’s sharp and hot in nature, governs metabolism and all things heat-related in the mind and body. Pitta is the dosha of transformation. Think flow and fire! Our agni, our digestive fire, which we use to transform food.
Athletic build, sharp mind and a strong intellect.
They may be prone to workaholic tendencies. They have warm bodies with sensitive skin. They also suffer from interrupted sleep. Their skin might be a bit sensitive. They have strong digestion and good metabolism. Their muscle tone is moderate. They are prone to premature greying of hair.
A strong intellect, good concentration; they get frustrated quickly. Possess a bit of temper, tends to be critical of oneself and others.
- Opt for bitter, astringent foods.
- Need to have a schedule for eating meals.
- Favour cool, heavy, dry foods. Eat more cooling foods such as cucumbers, sweet fruits, and melons. All sweeteners may be taken in moderation except molasses and honey.
- Avoid hot or pungent and dry food as it might excess thirst and inflammation.
- Minimize sour foods like vinegar and other fermented foods, hard cheeses, sour cream, green grapes, pineapple, grapefruit.
- Packaged canned or bottled foods as well as processed foods whenever possible. Pitta is very sensitive to chemical preservatives and artificial additives.
This dosha is derived from the elements of water and Earth. Kapha governs all structure and lubrication in the mind and body. It controls weight, growth, lubrication for the joints and lungs, and formation of all the seven tissues — nutritive fluids, blood, fat, muscles, bones, marrow and reproductive tissues.
A strong build, excellent stamina. They have large, soft eyes; smooth, radiant skin; and thick hair. They also have sound digestion, fair complexion and have lustrous and oily skin. They have a regular appetite but due to slow digestion, they tend to consume less amount of food. They also tend to gain weight quickly.
Naturally calm, thoughtful, have slow comprehension, but once they understand a thing the knowledge is retained and stays with them for long. They are patient and steady in their approach. They are prone to depression, attachment, possessiveness and envy.
- Opt for a liquid diet to remove excess diet
- Ingestion of fresh fruit like apples, pears, watermelon, pomegranates, apricots and cranberries is recommended. Fresh fruit smoothies and hot beverages like herbal tea & soups also work
- In dairy, low-fat milk is recommended. Most grains are fine, especially barley and millet
- Avoid excessive salt increase Kapha
- Reduce heavy, oily, cold foods and sweet and sour and tastes
- Reduce heavy or sour fruits, such as oranges, bananas, pineapples, figs, dates, avocados, coconuts and melons, as these fruits increase Kapha
- Do not take too much wheat or rice, as they increase Kapha
Summer coolers based on body type
Jamun celery lemonade:
- Wash and pat dry 100gms jamun
- Remove the seeds and chop them
- Then chop celery and keep it aside
- Add the deseeded jamun and celery in a blender
- Blend till a smooth texture is formed
- Then strain it in the strainer
- Add 5gms honey, 3gms cinnamon powder, 5ml lemon juice, 2gms pepper, 1gms black salt and two cups of water at this stage
- Mix it again, garnish with micro greens and serve
Jamun is a healthy Indian summer fruit. The fruit is sweet, sour and astringent in taste, which helps to keep vata in balance and is good in case of diabetes microbial infections. It is used to control digestion disorders such as (flatulence), stomach problems. This fruit is also light to digest and decreases the moist content of tissues. It has cold potency and acts as a body coolant.
Melon and mascarpone quinoa salad:
- Toss together 100gms quinoa, 2gms rocket leaves, 3gms melon seeds in 2-3 tbsp of the basil mint dressing
- Place in a salad bowl
- Garnish with 150gms melon scoops, 5gms toasted melon seeds and 50gms of fresh mascarpone cheese
- Use can also replace mascarpone with another fresh salty cheese
Summer is the season of extreme dry heat in most parts of India, chances are your Vata/Vayu/Air is a little disturbed and if you are of the Vata psycho-somatic constitution even more so. Best foods for Vata in the summer are small grains, sweet and sour fruits, light herbs, honey and adequate salt. This Vata balancing salad is hydrating and nourishing, exactly what a Vata constitution needs.
Beetroot and amla cooler:
- Wash 50gms beetroot and trim it from top
- Then boil it until tender
- Place it under cold water and let it rinse
- Then peel the skin of beetroot and chop it
- Blend 10gms cucumber, 5gms ginger, 10gms amla and 5gms mint with chopped beetroot
- Then pour the puree through a fine strainer into a bowl
- Add 1gms salt, 1gms cumin powder, 2gms maple syrup, 5ml lemon juice and water
- Serve it with edible flowers
As pitta dosha favours bitter and astringent tastes, which are cooling and refreshing; raw beetroot provoke Pitta but cooked beetroot is Pitta pacifying. They transform the starches into sweeter sugars that are cooling. It also cleans and cools the blood, nourishes the liver, improves the eyesight and is also good for anaemia.
Amla berry is especially effective in the hot season to cool pitta dosha. And due to it being cold in nature, it has a soothing effect on the pitta body type.
Basil seed and coconut pudding with custard apple and almonds:
- Mix together 50gms soaked basil seeds, 100gms coconut milk, and 50gms apple custard with some of the desiccated coconut
- Refrigerate the mixture for 30-60 mins
- Once thickened, pour it into a bowl or glass
- Garnish with fresh cut fruits, 5gms toasted almonds and 5gms desiccated coconut
Pitta in summer is at an all-time high. To calm the fire within and outside, we, especially those of the Pitta psycho-somatic constitution must load our diets with cooling, sweet and astringent foods. Good fats can be consumed in moderation as our gut fire is capable of digesting just about anything right now.
This coconut, custard apple and basil seed pudding contains all the good fats from coconut milk, sweetness and astringency from custard apple which should be available anytime now and ample hydration from basil seeds or Sabja and is the perfect summer breakfast.
Apple and pomegranate drink:
- In a bowl, add 30ml pomegranate juice, 10ml ginger juice, 15ml apple juice, 5gms honey, 10gms cut apple along with salt to taste and 2gms of pomegranate seeds
- Mix it well. Then pour the mixture in a glass and serve with mint leaves
As kapha favours pungent, bitter, astringent tastes; apples are good for balancing Kapha. It helps to ease constipation and it is the perfect antidote for hot and humid summers as the astringency of apple soaks up excess fluid in the body.
Pomegranate is good for the digestion. It is a digestive and appetite enhancer.
- For the zucchini steak, marinade slices of zucchini with salt, pepper, olive oil
- Layer them on a cutting board and roll tightly. You can tie it with a chive or kitchen thread till it cooks
- Now, sear the zucchini steak on one side in 15gms olive oil, and cover the pan to cook the other side in its steam
- Add 2-3gms salt, pepper and 3gms chopped herbs
- Once cooked, pat it on a kitchen towel and cut the thread
- In a bowl, place 50gms yoghurt dip at the bottom, zucchini steak on top, 30gms black puffed rice and snap peas around it
- You can garnish with more summer herbs and some fresh pickled Himalayan garlic.
To beat the sluggishness due to the heat and humidity, an individual with a Kapha psycho-somatic constitution should consume a light, high fibre diet with moderate water content and low fat. Light spices, allium and herbs are great.
This grilled zucchini steak with puffed black rice, with snap peas and garlic, is a great sumptuous treat to balance your Kapha.