Foods for Summer: Balancing Pitta!

Ayurveda is the science of life, which has been practiced for more than 5000 years. Ayurveda further states that, every person is made up of five basic elements or the Pancha Mahabhuta- which includes; earth, air, water, fire and space (ether), which reside in every person in such a way that they determine his physical and mental traits and shape their overall personality.

These elements combine with each other in the human body to form three life forces or energies, called doshas. These doshas are responsible for our physical, mental, and emotional tendencies. Everyone inherits a unique mix of the three doshas, with any one being more dominant in each person. The three doshas (tridoshas), or bio-energies found in our body are:

  •                      Vata dosha of air and space elements.
  •                      Kapha dosha of earth and water elements
  •                      Pitta dosha of fire element and controls the digestive and endocrine systems of the body. It has properties like hot, spicy and oily and can be more prevalent in summer. High pitta levels cause a burning sensation, increased acidity and inflammation, along with a highly critical and nervous disposition, which is aggravated in the summer time. To pacify pitta, it is best to have cooling foods that lower the pitta dosha and calm the body. Our ability to digest foods decreases as the sun shines brighter, so it is best to eat food during cooler parts of the day, i.e., lunch before noon and dinner at dusk.

 

Foods that can aggravate Pitta dosha:

  1.             Foods such as pungent and oily foods like curries, fried and oily stuff should be avoided by these people. These foods increase the acidity and heartburn in people with pitta dosha who are already afflicted by these problems. Even smoking, spices like garlic and ginger, intake of alcohol, having junk and fried foods, coffee, pickles, vinegar, fermented foods, curd and yoghurt should be avoided by these people.
  2.             Grains like corn, millet and rye increase the pitta dosha.
  3.             Vegetables like carrots, beets, garlic, eggplant, peppers, onions, tomatoes etc should be avoided.
  4.             Avoid sour and unripe fruits. Also fruits like papayas, peaches, bananas should be avoided.

Pitta balancing foods include:

  1.             Foods that are cool, dry with a mild sweet, bitter and astringent taste should be preferred for a pitta imbalance. Foods like milk, honey, barley, rice, beans, and steamed vegetables are beneficial. Mild spices like cumin, coriander, cilantro, cardamom are very helpful during this dosha.
  2.             All vegetables, like green leafy vegetables and fruits like apples, pomegranates, grapes, mangoes etc need to be consumed.
  3.             Consuming lots of room temperature water or warm fluids will help reduce the effects of pitta dosha. Also avoid eating very hot food, as this aggravates pitta.

 

Summer is a time when tempers run high, especially in people with a predominant pitta dosha. Eating a proper diet according to the body’s prakruti helps a person attain calm and peace of mind, along with highly active mental faculties.