Ayurveda- “the science of life” was recorded 5000 years ago, in India. Ayurveda follows inside out approach for healing the body. Every individual has unique based on their body constitution. These constitutions are not penned by our founding fathers; it’s the physical makeup of the individual comprising inherited qualities modified by the environment.
According to Ayurveda our body has two constitutions- the one you are born with- Prakruti and the other that reflects your body’s condition from day to day – “Vikruti.” Hence, the idea that everyone should eat the same food for optimal health is nonsencial.
Your Prakruti is a combination of “Doshas”, which are three primary forces. Each of the Doshas, is made up of some combination of the five basic elements that comprise everything in the universe—ether (space), air, fire, water, and earth.
The Vata Dosha (ether and air), Pitta Dosha (fire and water), and Kapha Dosha (water and earth) are present in all living things.
Your Body Combo
All the cells in the body contain all three Doshas. The three Doshas can be combined in three possible ways to arrive at three different body and behavioral types: Vata – Pitta, Pitta – Kapha, and Kapha – Vata, because usually there is one predominant Dosha.
At conception, you receive a Vata-Pitta-Kapha combination from your parents. Ayurvedic experts say that combination forms the blueprint for who you are—the color of your eyes, how much sleep you need at night, your reaction to stress, and a lot of other characteristics, including healthy eating.
Building the Balance
In order to build the balance to determine the dominant Dosha in your Prakruti —the combination of elements in your system that does the most to determine your basic characteristics, and feed your body with the food that decrease or counteracts the elements of that Dosha because it is those healthy eating elements that are most likely to go out of balance.
For example, if your Prakruti is predominantly Pitta, your essential characteristics are those associated with fire and water. Your diet, therefore, should be cooling, especially during the heat of summer. If you defy your Prakruti and exist on Pitta-increasing foods like hot chilli and jalapeno peppers, it will essentially overload your Vikruti, your day-to-day functioning system. Adding too much fire to fire, you'll pay the consequences with heartburn, ulcers, and other "fire-related" ailments, Conversely, you can eat foods that balance your Pitta. By living in balance, you can achieve perfect health and longevity, say advocates of Ayurveda. You'll also attain mental clarity, compassion, love, and happiness.
Therefore the principles of Vata, Pitta and Kapha are followed in preparing various Ayurvedic formulations.
The Tri- Doshas
Vata: The Roller Coaster
Being air and space, Vata is the mover and shaker of the Doshas. As the only traveling Dosha, it can go anywhere in the body, but it's most prevalent in the colon, bladder, skin, bone marrow, nervous system, and lumbar region. Vata shepherds food through the digestive process and nutrients in and out of cells. It's the force that controls your breathing, balances your tissues, and creates energy. Typical Vata traits are anxiety, enthusiasm, impulsiveness, and changeability.
It's easy to spot Vata-dominant people. They have light, thin builds and are usually very short or very tall, with prominent features, joints, and veins. They are Vivacious and moody, they tend to worry, overexert, and sleep and eat at different times each day.
When you have too much Vata, that light wind rustling through your body becomes a gale force, drying you out and causing Vata conditions like rough skin, chapped lips, intestinal gas, lower back pain, arthritic joints, insomnia, and fatigue.
Skin of Vata Prakurti people is dry, rough, and cold, with less sweating or without sweating and its color is black and smoky.
Unfortunately, Vata is the first to go out of balance and the hardest to get back in. It is said that Because they're so changeable, Vata-dominant people stick to the Vata-balancing diet for about 2 weeks and it's difficult for them to stay on one diet any longer than that.
Pitta: HOT HOT HOT
Fire and water combine in Pitta to form one scorching Dosha. Pitta is responsible for metabolism viz. digestion, body heat, appetite, anger, perception, and understanding. It's seated in the small intestine and dominates the sweat glands, heart, eyes, metabolic system, liver, and blood. Pitta traits are like those of a good entrepreneur—concentration, perfectionism, and orderliness.
In a word, Pitta-dominant people are intense. With a sharp intellect, precise speech, and a love of challenge, they are generally enterprising and successful. Physically, they have muscular builds, fair, ruddy skin, and light eyes, and they are perpetually hungry.
In Pitta Prakruti person, skin is hot, secretes more sweat and does not tolerate heat. Different color pigmentation is also present in this type of skin. Skin color is fair and yellowish to yellow.
Although a Pitta is usually warm and engaging, head for cover when this person boils over. Besides fostering irritability, excess Pitta can cause ulcers, acne, rashes, stress-related heart attacks, and the intestinal inflammation of colitis.
"Pitta people tend to take their dietary advice way too seriously, and eating becomes a goal to achieve rather than a pleasure."
Pour cool water into soft earth and you have Kapha—stable, moist, and heavy. It's seated in the chest and dominant in the head, stomach, heart, joints, limbs, and extremities. Kapha or structure, holds the cells together and form muscle, fat, bone and sinew; generating lubrication, such as mucus, Kapha is what keeps us running like a well-oiled machine.
The epitomes of Kapha are the ones with the ample frame and large, liquid eyes, relaxed, easy-going, and empathetic. In Kapha Prakruti person the skin is unctuous, soft, cold and color is fair whitish and very pleasant to see. Its qualities are those of the hardy—endurance, strength, and courage.
When Kapha people become unbalanced, they can become impossibly lazy, stubborn, greedy, and over-attached. Imbalanced Kapha include problems with overweight, allergies, high cholesterol levels, procrastination, cysts, and stupor.
"The challenge with people having Kapha Prakruti is getting them motivated enough to stick to a diet.”
The Healing Power of Ayurveda
Ayurvedic doctors give their patients a detailed examination. They take your pulse and inspect your tongue, fingernails, eyes, skin, and some key internal organs. To check the liver, for instance, the doctor asks you to lie flat on your back, and then checks by feel, pressing with his fingers in the area of the organ. With this type of examination, Ayurvedic doctors say they can pick up imbalances that Western medicine would never see—imbalances that, left unchecked, would progress into disease.
To treat disease, Ayurvedic experts suggest you see an Ayurvedic doctor to identify which Dosha imbalance is responsible for the condition. The doctor will describe the pacifying healthy eating diet for that Dosha, which you are supposed to follow at least until the condition clears up, and sometimes longer, integrating the new diet into your lifestyle. For example Psoriasis "can be Vata, Pitta, or Kapha". "Vata is dry, rough, and scaly, Pitta has a lot of inflammation, and Kapha has silvery, crusty scabs." He suggests following the appropriate Dosha-pacifying diet. (Below is a chart that will help you determine how to eat, based on your Dosha.)
Do's and Don'ts to Balance Dosha
To use this table, look under the column that corresponds to your dominant Dosha to find the food that are recommended or are not recommended for healthy eating. In the "Yes" column are foods that are recommended because they help balance your Dosha. In the "No" column, you'll find foods that are not recommended because they aggravate that particular Dosha.
Diet as an Etiological factor in skin diseases
Virudhh-ahara or Dietetic incompatibility- This is a peculiar Ayurvedic concept related to diet interaction and is described in almost all Ayurvedic compendiums. In general along with some other diseases, dietetic incompatibility can produce skin eruptions, leucoderma and different types of dermatitis. The famous example of this is fish and milk. This combination if taken together will cause skin disorders over a period of time. Some other combinations like milk, honey, bamboo leaf and jujube fruit if taken together can adversely affect the luster and texture of skin.
Food items indicated and contra indicated in skin disorders
Food items good for skin health – Charaka has mentioned the use of easily digestible food and vegetables with pungent taste for skin disorders. The ghee prepared with marking nut, triphala and neem if used along with food is useful for skin disorders. Old grains, flesh of animals belonging to dry land and forest, green gram are good for skin disorders.
Food items to be avoided in skin disorders - Heavy diet, sour taste, curd, milk, flesh of animals belonging to marshy land, jaggery, and sesame are contraindicated in all skin disorders.
From this we can conclude that almost every aspect of dietary advice to skin care and diseases are discussed in Charaka Samhita and on the basis of this we can rewrite the dietary regimen applicable in today’s life.