The three fundamental concepts in Ayurveda are:
- Food is medicine.
- Disease can be prevented and eradicated by changing one’s daily habits.
- Lifestyle recommendations are based on an individual’s physical-mental-emotional blueprint, or dosha.
The ancient texts of Ayurveda identify three fundamental physical-mental-emotional types, or doshas, that are present in everyone. Each person has characteristics of all three doshas, but one dosha is usually most dominant, one secondary, and the third least prominent. The original Sanskrit words for the three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.
Disease is caused by either an excess or deficiency of Vata, Pitta, or Kapha.
Kapha governs the structure (muscle, fat, joints, and bones) and lubrication of the body. The qualities of Kapha are heavy, oily, steady, slow, cold, soft, and solid. Kapha individuals are blessed with strength, stamina, and endurance. When they are in balance, they tend to have sweet, loving personalities and remain stable and grounded in the midst of chaos—like the eye of a hurricane. When Kapha individuals get out of balance they can experience greed, possessiveness, and lethargy. The key to keeping Kapha in balance is to stay mentally and physically stimulated.
Kapha people tend to be calm, tolerant, and forgiving. Kapha people tend to have a slow metabolism, shun exercise, and gain weight easily. They have large physical frames with well-developed muscles and joints. Their eyes tend to be large, attractive, with thick, long lashes. Their hair is often thick, wavy, and oily. Kapha types learn slowly, but their long-term memory is excellent. They have long, deep sleep and often have trouble waking up in the morning. Their stability and groundedness helps them to earn and hold onto money.
When out of balance, Kapha people become dull, lethargic, overweight, overly attached, and have difficulty changing. An excessive accumulation of Kapha in the body results in the buildup of toxins, or ama. Winter and spring are the seasons when Kapha accumulates most in the body. Spring is an ideal time for seasonal detoxification programs because Kapha begins to “melt” and toxins are released and ready to be removed from the body.
Kapha individuals are more likely to have disease connected to the water principle such as flu, sinus congestion, excess mucus production, obesity, diabetes, water retention, and headaches. Kapha people have slow metabolism and tend to crave sweets. They also enjoy eating heavy and oily foods. However, they are balanced by eating spicy, bitter, and astringent foods. Kapha also does well with warm foods and drinks.
Dietary Recommendations for Kapha
Kapha individuals have slow metabolism and do not require large amounts of food. They should favor bitter, astringent, and spicy foods. They shouldn’t consume dairy products or fats. Kapha types should eat foods that are stimulating to both the mind and body.
Kapha individuals do not need as many grains as the other two doshas. Buckwheat and millet are the best grains for Kapha because they tend to be heating. Barley, rice, and corn are also good options. All vegetables are good for the Kapha individual. Leafy green vegetables and those vegetables that grow above the ground are best. Generally steamed or dry stir-fried foods are better for Kapha digestion. Kapha people do well with astringent or drying fruits, such as apples, apricots, cranberries, mangoes, peaches, and pears.
Rarely do Kapha people need meat because their bodies don’t need large amounts of protein. When they do eat meat, it should never be fried. They can modest amounts of eat poultry, egg whites, and seafood. Legumes are a better source of protein for Kapha individuals because of the lack of fat, but they should consume legumes only in moderation.
Nuts and seeds are generally too oily and heavy for Kapha types. They can have sunflower and pumpkin seeds on occasion. Oils should be used in very small amounts.
The best oils for Kapha are almond, corn, safflower, sunflower, and ghee. Dairy should be mostly avoided. The occasional use of goat’s milk is acceptable. Honey is the only sweetener recommended for the use of Kapha types, but only in moderation. Kapha can use spices in any amount except for salt, which should be limited. The best spices for Kapha people are ginger and garlic.
If someone has a pure Kapha dosha, the occasional use of caffeine is allowable. Kapha people tend not to be as harmed by alcohol or tobacco as much as the other two doshas, but they don’t have any need for them either. If they choose to have alcohol, an occasional glass of wine is the best choice.