Ayurvedic Medicine Part IV: How to Get Healthy if You’re a “Kapha”

In Part I of this series on Ayurvedic Medicine, I described the different constitutional types: Vata, Pitta and Kapha.  In Parts II and III, I gave lifestyle recommendations for Vatas and Pittas.  So now, what should you do if you are a Kapha?

Here are my recommendations for balancing your Kapha constitution, thereby making you less prone to illness:

The Kapha dosha is heavy, slimy (or phlegmmy), slow and dense.  Kapha people need to avoid excessively sweet, sour and salty foods (the standard American diet) and eat more bitter, pungent (spicy) and astringent foods.

In general, eat less and exercise more.  Avoid greasy and fried food and shun dairy products (because it produces phlegm).  Kaphas need grain less than Vatas and Pittas.  The best grains for Kapha are roasted buckwheat and millet.  Wheat should be avoided.

All vegetables are good for Kapha except potatoes and tomatoes.  Aim for at least 50% of your diet to be comprised of vegetables.  Suggestions:  Steamed broccoli, cauliflower, kale, carrots and onions.  Chicken soup with lots of celery, parsley and other vegetables.  Baked winter squash with nutmeg.  Beans or fish in light curry sauce. 

Fresh and dried fruit should be eaten in small amounts only. 

Foods should be dry roasted or baked with minimal added fats.

Limit red meat, nuts and soy.

Spicy food is good for Kapha.  Learn to use spices in your cooking as a salt replacement.  Sweets in general should be avoided.  A small amount of raw honey, taken alone or in tea, is okay.

Eat your heaviest meal midday and avoid excessive eating at night.  Kapha can handle occasionally 1-3 day fasts and “cleanses” better than Vata and Pitta.

Kapha tolerates coffee and black tea better than Vata and Pitta.

Kaphas require vigorous daily exercise.

When I treat Kapha patients, I tend to perform invigorating treatments that promote circulation and resolve phlegm and systemic dampness.  I utilize Chinese herbs that are spicy (pungent) and bitter in order to stoke the metabolism and promote the discharge and elimination of waste.

Note: As I mentioned in Part I of this series on Ayurvedic Medicine, many people are more than one constitutional type or “dosha”.  For example, you might be a Vata-Pitta, Vata-Kapha or Pitta-Kapha.  If this is the case, you need to tailor your diet/lifestyle so that it balances the dosha that is dominant within you at a given point in time.  So, be aware of the symptoms you are having.  In general, Vata is dominant in fall and early winter when it is cold, dry and windy.  Pitta is dominant when it is hot outside.  And, Kapha is dominant in late winter through early spring when it is cold and wet. 

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