The Ayurvedic diet is a dietary pattern that has existed for thousands of years.
It is based on the principles of Ayurvedic medicine and focuses on balancing different types of energy within your body, which is said to improve health.
Unlike many other diets, the Ayurvedic diet provides personalized recommendations on what foods to eat and avoid based on your body type.
It is also popular because it is said not only to promote better health for your body, but also for your mind.
This article looks at everything you need to know about the Ayurvedic diet, including its benefits, disadvantages and foods to eat and avoid.
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What is Ayurvedic Diet?
Ayurveda is a form of holistic medicine focused on promoting balance between your body and mind.
According to Ayurveda, five elements make up the universe – vayu (air), jala (water), akash (space), teja (fire) and prithvi (earth).
These elements are believed to form three different doshas, which are defined as types of energy that circulate within your body. Each dosha is responsible for specific physiological functions.
For example, pitta dosha controls hunger, thirst and body temperature. Meanwhile, the vata dosha maintains balance and electrolytic movement, while the kapha dosha promotes joint function ( 1 ).
The Ayurvedic diet is a component of Ayurveda and has been practiced for thousands of years. It is based on determining your dominant dosha and eating specific foods to promote a balance between the three doshas.
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How it works?
The Ayurvedic diet is a type of eating plan that sets guidelines for when, how and what you should eat based on your dosha or body type.
Here are some of the main features of each dosha to help you determine which type suits you best:
|Pitta (fire + water)||Intelligent, hardworking and decisive. This dosha usually has a medium build, short temperament and can suffer from conditions such as indigestion, heart disease or high blood pressure.|
|Vata (air + space)||Creative, energetic and lively. People with this dosha are usually thin with a light frame and may experience digestive problems, fatigue or anxiety when unbalanced.|
|Kapha (land + water)||Naturally calm, reasoned and loyal. Those with a kapha dosha generally have a more robust structure and may have problems with weight gain, asthma, depression or diabetes.|
According to this diet, your dosha determines what foods you should eat to promote internal balance.
For example, pitta dosha focuses on cooling, energizing food and limiting spices, nuts and seeds .
Meanwhile, vata dosha favors hot, moist and ground foods, while restricting dried fruits, bitter herbs and raw vegetables.
Finally, kapha dosha limits heavy foods like nuts, seeds and oils in favor of fruits, vegetables and legumes.
Red meat, artificial sweeteners and processed ingredients are limited to all three doshas. Instead, the Ayurvedic diet encourages eating healthy whole foods.
The Ayurvedic diet is a dietary pattern focused on promoting balance within your body, following guidelines for your specific dosha or body type.
Here are some of the potential benefits of the Ayurvedic diet.
Encourages whole foods
Although the Ayurvedic diet has specific guidelines for each dosha, the diet as a whole encourages the intake of whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes.
This can benefit your health a lot, as these foods are rich in many essential nutrients .
The diet also minimizes processed foods, which often lack fiber and important vitamins and minerals.
Studies show that eating more processed foods may be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, cancer and even death ( 2 , 3 , 4 ).
Thus, the Ayurvedic diet can help protect against chronic diseases and promote better health. However, further studies are needed.
It could promote weight loss
Since the Ayurvedic diet emphasizes whole foods rich in nutrients, it can increase weight loss .
Although there is limited research on the Ayurvedic diet and weight loss, some studies have found that it can be effective in this regard.
For example, a study of 200 people with pitta or kapha doshas showed that following the Ayurvedic diet for three months led to significant weight loss. These people supposedly tend to be heavier than those with vata doshas ( 5 ).
Another small study found that after an Ayurveda-based lifestyle modification program, which included changes in diet and yoga classes, resulted in an average weight loss of 6 kg (13 pounds) over 9 months ( 6 ).
That said, large, high-quality studies are needed to assess the effectiveness of the Ayurvedic diet on weight loss in the general population.
In addition to the foods you eat, mindfulness is another important part of the Ayurvedic diet.
Mindfulness is a practice that involves paying close attention to how you feel in the present.
In particular, conscious eating emphasizes minimizing distractions during meals to focus on the taste, texture and smell of the food.
According to a small study in 10 people, practicing conscious eating reduces body weight, depression, stress and binge eating ( 7 ).
The mindful eating can also increase self – control and promote a healthy relationship with food ( 8 ).
The Ayurvedic diet emphasizes eating whole foods, which can improve your overall health and increase weight loss. The diet also encourages conscious eating, a practice that can promote a healthy relationship with food.
Although there are several benefits associated with the Ayurvedic diet, there are disadvantages to be considered.
Here are some of the possible disadvantages of the Ayurvedic diet.
It can be confusing
One of the main problems with the Ayurvedic diet is that it can be confusing and difficult to follow.
Not only are there lists of specific foods for each dosha, but there are also many additional rules to follow.
For example, recommendations on what foods you should eat and avoid changes throughout the year based on the season.
There are also suggestions for when, how often and how much you should eat, which can be challenging – especially for those just starting out on a diet.
It may seem overly restrictive
In the Ayurvedic diet, there are extensive lists of foods that you should eat or avoid, depending on your dosha.
This may mean cutting out healthy, whole foods or whole food groups that can aggravate specific doshas.
Other ingredients, like red meat or processed foods, are also left out, which may require you to make significant changes to your current diet.
This may seem overly restrictive and less flexible than other meal plans and can make it difficult to maintain the diet in the long run.
Another problem with the Ayurvedic diet is that it is subjective.
The diet is centered on determining your dominant dosha, which is based on a set of physical and mental characteristics.
While there are many guidelines and tests available online to help facilitate the process, discovering your dosha is not foolproof.
Since dietary recommendations are tailored to each dosha, choosing the wrong dosha can negatively affect your results.
In addition, no evidence currently supports the concept of doshas or the claim that your personality traits determine what foods you should eat and avoid.
Therefore, it is not clear how beneficial the diet is, even if you correctly determine your dosha.
The Ayurvedic diet can be confusing and can seem overly restrictive, especially when you start. Furthermore, the doshas theory is subjective and is not based on scientific evidence.
What to eat?
In Ayurveda, foods are classified based on their physical qualities and the way they are said to affect your body. This helps to determine which ingredients work best for different doshas ( 9 ).
Below are some of the foods that you should be eating based on your specific dosha.
|Protein||Poultry in small quantities, egg whites, tofu|
|Dairy products||Milk, ghee , butterFruits: sweet and fully ripe fruits such as oranges, pears, pineapples, bananas , melons and mangoes|
|Vegetables||Sweet and bitter vegetables, including cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, zucchini, vegetables, sweet potatoes , carrots, pumpkin and Brussels sprouts|
|Legumes||Chickpeas, lentils, mung beans, green beans, black beans, beans|
|Grains||Barley, oats, basmati rice, wheat|
|Nuts and seeds||Small amounts of pumpkin seeds , flax seeds , sunflower seeds, coconut|
|Herbs and spices||Small amounts of black pepper, cumin, cinnamon , coriander, dill, saffron|
|Protein||Small amounts of poultry, seafood, tofu|
|Dairy products||Milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, ghee|
|Fruit||Fully ripe, sweet and heavy fruits such as bananas, blueberries, strawberries, grapefruits, mangoes, peaches and plums|
|Vegetables||Cooked vegetables, including beets, sweet potatoes, onions, radishes, turnips, carrots and green beans|
|Legumes||Chickpeas, lentils, mung beans Grains: cooked oats, cooked rice|
|Nuts and seeds||Any, including almonds, walnuts, pistachios, chia seeds, flax seeds and sunflower seeds|
|Herbs and spices||Cardamom, ginger, cumin, basil, cloves, oregano, thyme, black pepper|
|Protein||Poultry in small quantities, seafood, egg whites|
|Dairy products||Skim milk, goat milk, soy milk|
|Fruit||Apples, blueberries, pears, pomegranates, cherries and dried fruits such as raisins, figs and prunes|
|Vegetables||Asparagus, green leaves, onion, potatoes, mushrooms, radishes, okra|
|Legumes||Any, including black beans, chickpeas, lentils and marine|
|Grains||Oats, rye, buckwheat, barley, maize, maize|
|Nuts and seeds||Small amounts of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flax seeds|
|Herbs and spices||Any, including cumin, black pepper, turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, basil, oregano and thyme|
Depending on your dosha, there are specific guidelines on what foods to eat as part of an Ayurvedic diet.
What to avoid?
Here are some of the foods that you should limit or avoid based on your dosha.
|Proteins||Red meat, seafood, egg yolks|
|Dairy products||Sour cream, cheese, buttermilk|
|Fruit||Sour or green fruits, such as grapes, apricots, papaya, grapefruit and sour cherries|
|Vegetables||Pepper, beet, tomato, onion, eggplant|
|Grains||Brown rice, maize, maize, rye|
|Nuts and seeds||Almonds, cashews, peanuts, pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, sesame seeds|
|Herbs and spices||Any spices not included in the list above|
|Fruit||dried, green or light fruits such as raisins, cranberries, pomegranates and pears|
|Vegetables||All raw vegetables, as well as cooked broccoli, kale, cauliflower, mushrooms, potatoes and tomatoes|
|Legumes||Beans, such as black beans, beans and marine|
|Grains||Buckwheat, barley, rye, wheat, maize, quinoa, maize|
|Herbs and spices||Bitter or astringent herbs such as parsley, thyme and coriander seeds|
|Proteins||Red meat, shrimp, egg yolk|
|Fruit||Bananas, coconuts, mangoes, fresh figs|
|Vegetables||Sweet potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumber|
|Legumes||Soy, beans, miso|
|Grains||Rice, wheat, cooked cereals|
|Nuts and seeds||Cashew nuts, walnuts, pine nuts, Brazil nuts, sesame seeds, walnuts|
Based on your dosha, the Ayurvedic diet recommends that you limit or avoid certain foods.
The Ayurvedic diet is a meal plan based on the principles of Ayurvedic medicine, a form of traditional medicine that dates back thousands of years.
The diet involves eating or restricting certain foods based on your dosha, or body type, which claims to increase weight loss and support mindfulness.
However, it can be confusing and restrictive, and is based on subjective assumptions about your personality and body type. Furthermore, their theories are not supported by scientific evidence.