by Dr Rajneesh Kour
Half of the population of Australia struggles with digestive problems. Heartburn, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome and colitis are all on the rise – causing discomfort for thousands of people nationwide.
In Ayurveda, we believe that almost all diseases are directly or indirectly related to disturbed digestion. Once your metabolism has been disturbed, the immune system slows down and invites disease into the body.
At Ayurvedic Wellness Centre, many people come to us about their digestive concerns, including but not limited to:
- Gastric Reflux
- Weight gain
- Low appetite
The main cause of these gastrointestinal concerns is impaired digestive fire, affected by the imbalances of your body type otherwise known as your dosha.
Everyone is different and so is their digestion. For example, some people feel comfortable drinking cold water, whereas others feel sick after drinking it. Likewise, some people need food throughout the day to stay active, whereas others feel sluggish or lazy after eating. This all depends on your dosha.
The problem starts with people not recognising their dosha (kapha, pitta, vata). When people ignore their dosha and eat foods that don’t agree with them, the body rejects the food, resulting in gut problems and discomfort. This can sometimes lead to chronic disorders and diseases.
Ayurveda is the answer to all your gut health questions. Digestive peace comes from balancing the dosha and learning what works – plus what doesn’t – for your unique dosha. Eating according to your dosha and getting rid of toxins is the only solution to these problems.
Read on to learn how to ease digestive discomfort with harmonious dosha.
Common digestive problems for the vata dosha
The digestive fire for vata body types is often unpredictable. Sometimes the digestive fire can be good and food is easily digested. However, sometimes it can cause uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, gassiness, and constipation.
People with vata dosha might suffer after eating the following foods:
- Cold food like salads, smoothies and popcorn
- Uncooked food
- Bitter, pungent and astringent tasting foods
- Cold water (often right after a meal).
Vata is linked to the cold, light and dry. In order to balance the vata dosha, people should eat foods which are:
- Warm, cooked and heavy
- Sweet, salty or sour
- Fully cooked with oils and/or ghee
- Spiced with warm flavours
- Missing bitter and astringent flavours
- No raw, cold, or spiced with chili.
Vata should also avoid drinking cold water before meals as this can cause discomfort in the gut due to slowed digestion.
Common digestive problems for the pitta dosha
The digestive fire for pitta is very strong and food is often digested fast – meaning people with a pitta dosha have to eat on time, or they have an insatiable hunger! Because of this people with a pitta imbalance often suffer with diarrhoea, heartburn, and gastric reflux.
People who eat too much of one or more of the following foods are likely to suffer from a pitta imbalance:
- Fried foods
- Hot, spiced foods like ginger, garlic and onion
- Sour, citrus based fruits like lime, lemon, orange, pineapple and berries.
It’s also common in people who drink little water, fast a lot, or drink excessive amounts of alcohol. As qualities of pitta resemble that of fire, people with a pitta imbalance should eat more of the following foods:
- Raw, heavy, cool foods
- Foods free of spice, salt and sour flavours
- Foods with bitter, sweet and astringent flavours
- Cooling spices like fennel, coriander, mint and dill.
If you’re prone to pitta imbalances, we recommend avoiding fasting. You must keep your stomach filled when you feel hungry.
Common digestive problems for the kapha dosha
The digestive fire for the kapha body type is very slow. It takes a lot of time to digest meals and an imbalance can cause sluggishness, an overall lack of energy, weight gain and a low appetite.
People with the following eating habits are more prone to kapha digestive problems:
- Regular heavy meals
- Prefers sweet, sour and salty flavours
- Regular overeating
- Preference for oily, unctuous food
- Eating too many dairy products and excess proteins.
Kapha signifies the cold, so the digestive fire of a kapha body type is very slow and takes more time to digest food than the other doshas. The kapha digestive system can be maintained by eating:
- Warm, dry and light meals
- Warm water mixed with ginger, a few lemon drops and rock salt (this boosts the digestive fire)
- Bitter, astringent and pungent flavoured foods
For optimum digestive kapha health, we recommend avoiding creamy dairy products as well as sweet, sour or salt flavoured foods. We also suggest eating only when hungry – kaphas are prone to overeating or eating more often than the other doshas, causing weight gain and digestive discomfort.
Digestive problems can be eased with the perfect eating times and conditions
Curing digestive problems comes down to recognising your unique dosha. Everyone is different and so is their dosha – so it’s important to identify whether you have a vata, kapha, or pitta body type, so you can better support your digestive fire.
Alongside a well-balanced dosha diet, try these tips for settling digestive discomfort and improving overall gut health:
- Eat meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) around the same time every day
- Eat only when you’re hungry
- Eat lunch between 12pm and 2pm as this is when the digestive fire is its strongest
- Eat dinner before 8pm or 2 hours before going to sleep
- Eat in a calm, settled environment and concentrate on eating
- Consider an appetizer drink – add 2-3 spoons of plain yoghurt into a glass of water, then add a pinch of cumin powder and salt. Make sure to stir well – this is a healthy drink designed to increase your appetite. We recommend trying it in summer!