How This Helps

According to the principles of Ayurveda, when all the elements in our body are balanced, we will only desire food that is good for our health. However, if the body, mind, or spirit is out of balance, then the connection to the body's core intelligence falls out of sync. This affects our eating habits. Modern afflictions that affect your eating patterns (excessive consumption of fatty foods and sugary drinks, lack of exercise, fast-paced, and stressful living) causes our body, mind, and spirit to fall out of balance entirely. The entire mind-body system goes entirely off the rails. It then becomes necessary to balance all the elements of our body again. 

Ayurveda and the three life forces

 According to Ayurveda, our human body is governed by three main elements - Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Only when all these three life forces are in balance will we be in good health. One of the key ways to balance all three doshas is to watch what we eat and drink every day, and also when we eat and how we eat and drink. The science of Ayurveda considers proper digestion and the right food to be at the heart of good health.[1],[2] 

See: Prakruti & Vikruti in Ayurveda

Kapha - the predominant Dosha in humans

Kapha is the predominant dosha in humans. A Kapha person gains weight quickly, have rounded faces and bodies, and are usually said to be 'big-boned.' They have feather-soft baby smooth skin and long lustrous nails. They have a preference for dry and warm climates but are able to maintain their body temperature easily. They are lovable, and everyone enjoys being around them. Kapha people have a tendency to overeat, sleep excessively, and often forego exercise[3],[4]. 

 

See: Ayurveda Kapha Diet

Kapha imbalance signs & symptoms

People with Kapha dosha or Kapha imbalance will start to notice a generalized feeling of heaviness or lethargy, drowsiness, brain fog, and will develop a tendency to sleep excessively. Kapha imbalance causes a person to become lazy. They may go into depression, and always experience sluggishness in their day to day activities [5],[6]. 

Out of balance Kapha personalities may gain weight easily, have slow digestion, may be prone to respiratory and sinus problems, feel lethargic, and find it tough to wake-up and may experience food cravings and depression. Common diseases of Kapha include:

- Bronchitis

- Runny nose

- Sinusitis

- Flu

- Colds

- Swellings

The imbalanced Kapha can cause gastrointestinal problems since it plays a role in the primary processing of food -- its liquefaction. It can also trigger issues with the joints, since it's in charge of their lubrication, in addition to nerve problems since it nourishes the nervous system.

The action of Kapha becomes intensified in late winter because its high levels continue at the beginning of the spring. These are the periods during which the probability of development of physical and mental problems increases for individuals with that Dosha, for example, with respect to headaches, tumors, and cysts.

It's also responsible for the fluids at the center, so it can lead to heart disease. As a result of reduced physical activity, healthy appetite, poor digestion, and slow metabolism, the people of Kapha type are also prone to accumulation of excessive weight.

Overweight and obesity are associated with a range of ailments - high blood pressure, varicose veins, heart attack, and diabetes. These kinds of individuals are inert and withstand changes in lifestyle, that is why they are in danger of states like anxiety and depression.

Listed below are some common symptoms of Kapha imbalance:

 

Physical Symptoms:

 

 -  Increase in body weight

 -  Sinus congestion

 -  Excessive production of mucus

 -  Slow or sluggish bowel movements

 -  Thick white coating on the tongue

 -  Loss of strength

 -  Depressed metabolism

 -  Sinus congestion

 -  Mucoid diarrhea

 -  Pre-diabetes

 -  Hay fever

 -  Fatty accumulation in the arteries

 -  Runny nose

 -  Persistent cold and cough

 -  Oily skin and hair

 -  Excess urination

 -  Cold sweats

 -  Reduced sense of smell and taste

Behavioral symptoms:

- Stubbornness

- Possessiveness

- Emotional overeating

- Lethargy and drowsiness

- Difficulty waking up in the morning 

- Oversleeping

- Greed

- Anxiety & depression

- Ignorance

- Delusional

Too little of Kapha can cause a dry respiratory tract and burning sensation in the stomach [7].

See: Boost your immune system with Ayurveda

Causes of Kapha Imbalance

But what causes Kapha imbalance? Let's take a look:

 -  Overeating or eating heavy meals

 -  Lack of physical activity

 -  Sleeping during the day

 -  Spending too much time in damp and cold climates

The biggest reason that causes Kapha imbalance of Kapha dosha is consuming Kapha aggravating foods such as fatty and oily foods, cold drinks, frozen and salty foods, sweets, dairy products, very sweet and sour fruits, etc. This is why the best way to balance Kapha dosha is to eat Kapha pacifying foods.

See: Natural Flu Remedies

Balancing Kapha Dosha

Eating a Kapha pacifying diet is the fastest way to correct a Kapha dosha. However, remember that you can't just wake up one beautiful day and change over to a Kapha-pacifying diet for the remaining life. Following a Kapha pacifying diet has to be a practice rather than a sudden diet bandwagon you jump on to for a couple of days [8].

 The therapeutic approaches of Ayurveda for Kapha imbalances are complicated. Nutrition is vital for balancing the Dosha- there's a listing of selected suitable kinds of foods, time of the day, and sequence of ingestion. This is accompanied by specialized therapies for internal and external cleansing such as Puvakarma and Panchakarma. They include oils and herbs and their combinations. An essential part of the healing complex is also the yoga practice -- exercises and asanas which have a direct impact on specific health issues, so they also contribute to the general physical and psychological stability.

The rule of thumb for balancing Kapha is to eat less than you feel hungry for and to control your cravings. Functional foods for balancing Kapha dosha are spicy or well-seasoned foods and dry foods. 

Some of the foods that are good to include in a Kapha-pacifying diet are as follows:

Fruits:

 -  Apple

 -  Berries

 -  Cherries

 -  Mangoes

 -  Peaches

 -  Pears

 -  Raisins

 -  Dried figs

 -  Plums

When you are attempting to balance Kapha dosha, then you should aim to eat fruit at least an hour before or after you take meals, but avoid having fruits in the evenings [9].

Vegetables:

You can have spicy and bitter vegetables such as

 -  Red beets

 -  Carrots

 -  Cabbage

 -  Cauliflower

 -  Celery

 -  Garlic

 -  Lettuce

 -  Eggplant

 -  Mushrooms

 -  Parsley

 -  Onions

 -  Peas

 -  Radish

 -  Spinach

 -  Brussels sprouts

 -  Fennel

 -  Sprouts

Grains:

 -  Corn

 -  Millet

 -  Barley

 -  Oats

 -  Basmati rice, but only in small quantities

Legumes:

 -  You can have all legumes except for black lentils and white beans. Black band azuki beans are considered to be especially useful for Kapha dosha. 

Eggs and Meat:

 -  You can have scrambled eggs, but avoid fried eggs

 -  Turkey

 -  Rabbit

 -  Chicken

Dairy:

 -  Avoid fatty cheeses

 -  Avoid yogurt

 -  You can have low-fat milk in small quantities

 -  Opt for having soy milk

Sweetening:

 -  Use only jaggery and organic honey

Oil:

 -  Walnut oil and corn oil should be preferred but in minimal quantities

 

See: The six tastes in the Ayurvedic Diet

Summary

Apart from following a Kapha pacifying diet, there are many other things you can do to balance Kapha in the body. Some of these beneficial things are:

 

 -     Stick to a regular daily routine: Try to wake up before 6 a.m. each morning and avoid taking naps in the day. Developing and following a routine and sticking to it each day helps correct Kapha imbalance.

 

 -     Remain warm and avoid dampness: It is in the nature of Kaphas to be sensitive to cold and damp conditions. They benefit from heat. Kapha imbalance is likely to make you congested, which is a common complaint of Kapha dosha. You should try to stay warm - use a heating pad under your back or use a sunlamp. Avoid exposing your throat, nose, and lungs to cold water and cold winter air, especially if you are not feeling well. 

 

 -     Avoid cluttering of your home, office, car, or any other physical spaces. Regularly clean out your storage spaces and get rid of things you know you are unlikely to use again.

 -     Get regular exercise:  The best way to balance Kapha dosha is to exercise regularly. This prevents the toxins from building up in the body. Kapha dominant people should focus on endurance building exercises such as cycling, swimming, running, aerobics, etc. 

 -  You can also think about trying a liquid fast one day a week by having only fruit and fresh vegetable juices during the day. You can even have pureed vegetable soup. 

By following these small tips, you can correct any Kapha imbalance in no time and also keep yourself healthy.

See: Ayurveda and Indian Herbs to help with Sinusitis

References

1. Heyn, B., 1990. Ayurveda: The Indian Art of Natural Medicine and Life Extension. Inner Traditions/Bear & Co.

2. Jayasundar, R., 2010. Ayurveda: a distinctive approach to health & disease. Current Science, pp.908-914.

3. Hankey, A., 2010. Establishing the scientific validity of Tridosha part 1: Doshas, Subdoshas, and Dosha Prakritis. Ancient science of life, 29(3), p.6.

4. Rotti, H., Guruprasad, K.P., Nayak, J., S.P., Kukreja, H., Kabekkodu, Mallya, S., Nayak, J., Bhradwaj, R.C., Gangadharan, G.G., Prasanna, B.V. and Raval, R., 2014. Immunophenotyping of normal individuals classified on the basis of human dosha Prakriti. Journal of Ayurveda & integrative medicine, 5(1), p.43.

5. Jogwar, V.V., 2010. Kapha pitta, vata prakrittis and personality.

6. Travis, F.T., and Wallace, R.K., 2015. Dosha brain-types: A neural model of individual differences. Journal of Ayurveda and integrative medicine, 6(4), p.280.

7. Suchitra, S.P., Devika, H.S., Gangadhar, B.N., Nagarathna, R., Nagendra, H.R., and Kulkarni, R., 2010. Measuring the tridosha symptoms of unmāda (psychosis): A preliminary study. The Journal of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 16(4), pp.457-462.

8. Care, H., Care, O., Essentials, B., Essentials, D., Cough, L.C. and Brands, A., Kapha Balancing Herbs.

9. Care, H., Care, O., Essentials, B., Essentials, D., Cough, L.C. and Brands, A., Pitta-Kapha Balancing Herbs.

See: Ayurvedic remedies for constipation

Dosha Quiz

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