¿Qué es la dieta ayurvédica?
An Ayurvedic diet is an eating plan that provides guidelines for when you eat, what you eat, and how you eat to improve your health, prevent or control disease, and maintain well-being.
If you follow an Ayurvedic diet, you will eat mostly whole or minimally processed foods and practice mindful eating rituals.
The diet is based on Indian Ayurvedic wellness systems dating back thousands of years. Some studies have shown that Ayurvedic lifestyle practices, including diet, can help improve your health.
However, following an Ayurvedic diet for weight loss is not necessarily a proven method of weight loss.
What the experts say
“Based on a Hindu system of medicine, an Ayurvedic diet instructs you to eat according to a dominant dosha (energy type). There is no scientific justification for this style of eating, but experts agree that the focus on food Unprocessed and mindful eating are both valuable insights. ”
– Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH
Ayurveda is a wellness practice that originated in India and is around 5,000 years old. The word “Ayurveda” is a combination of two Sanskrit words that mean life (Ayur) and science (Veda). The literal translation of Ayurveda is “the science of life”.
Ayurvedic medicine seeks to create a healthy and strong body through a series of diet, exercise and lifestyle practices, including sleep and mindful living.
How does it work
If you follow an Ayurvedic diet, you will incorporate many different practices into your eating routine. These practices help you benefit from different qualities of food.
One of the main characteristics of an Ayurvedic diet is that you eat according to your dominant constitutional type or dosha . You can think of your dosha as your most prominent energy.
There are three different Ayurvedic doshas that are derived from five different elements: space, air, fire, water, and earth. Each element brings different qualities or attributes.
- Vata (space and air): Vatas is often described as creative, intense, or expressive. Attributes include dry, light, cold, and harsh.
- Pitta (fire and water): Pittas are often described as intelligent, cheerful, and motivated. Attributes include strong, hot, liquid, and mobile.
- Kapha (land and water) – Kaphas are often described as calm, loving, or lethargic. Attributes include wet, heavy, smooth, and static.
After reading the descriptions of each dosha , you may find that one is more like the qualities it embodies. Many people find that they have two strong doshas.
Those who practice an Ayurvedic lifestyle believe that each of us personifies the three doshas. Your prominent dosha will determine your eating style.
What to eat
Once you’ve determined your dominant dosha, you can create meals around food that will help nourish your body and balance your energy.
You’ll find more extensive guides to dosha-based eating online at sites like the Ayurveda Institute, but it’s helpful to scan some of the organization’s suggested foods for each dosha.
Food to eat
- Sweet fruit like cooked apples or cherries
- Cooked vegetables like asparagus or beets
- Grains that include quinoa or rice
- red lentils
- Dairy products (in moderation)
- Black pepper
- Coriander leaves
- Peanuts and walnuts
- Chia or flax seeds
- Beer or white wine
- Sesame oil and ghee
Foods to avoid
- Dried fruit
- Raw apples and watermelon
- Frozen, raw or dried vegetables
- Split peas
- Red wine
Food to eat
- Sweet or sour vegetables like broccoli or cauliflower
- Dry cereal
- Black beans
- Unsalted butter
- Chicken (white meat)
- Egg whites
- Dry white wine
Foods to avoid
- Spicy vegetables like raw onion or leeks
- sour fruits
- Bread made with yeast
- Quinoa and brown rice
- soy sauce
- Salted butter
- CCrea agria
- Chicken (dark meat)
- Chili pepper
- Red or sweet wine
- Seafood other than shrimp
Food to eat
- Astringent fruit such as applesauce or prunes.
- Spicy or sour vegetables like celery or carrots
- Broad beans
- Queso cottage
- Dry red or white wine
Foods to avoid
- Bittersweet fruits like grapefruit or figs.
- Sweet or juicy vegetables like cucumber or zucchini
- Cooked oatmeal
- Hard or soft cheese
- Freshwater fish
- Strong alcohol
Some of the basic Ayurvedic eating practices include:
- Ingest six rasas or tastes. In each meal, you will incorporate sweet, salty, acidic, bitter, spicy and astringent foods.
Start your meal with foods that taste sweet (like sweet fruits)
- Then move on to foods that are salty (like seafood) and acidic (citrus fruits, for example)
- Finish off with foods that are spicy (like onions or peppers), astringents (like green apples or tea), and bitter (celery, kale, or leafy green vegetables).
- Ingest six rasas or tastes. In each meal, you will incorporate sweet, salty, acidic, bitter, spicy and astringent foods.
- Eat with attention and concentration. Avoid talking, laughing, and other distractions to fully appreciate your food and the healthy benefits it provides.
- Eat slowly enough so that you can savor the taste of your food.
- Eat fast enough to keep your food from getting cold.
- Eat the right amount of food. Be aware of the signals of hunger and satiety to prevent overeating.
- Eat only when you have digested your previous meal. The guidelines suggest that you do not eat within three hours of your previous meal or snack, but you should not go without eating for more than six hours.
- Focus on breakfast and lunch. Many Ayurvedic practitioners recommend having a modest breakfast and a more filling and satisfying lunch. Dinner may or may not be eaten depending on your hunger levels.
Resources and Tips
Before starting an Ayurvedic diet, you will need to know and find your dominant dosha. Many experts in Ayurvedic medicine suggest that the smartest method is to visit an Ayurvedic doctor.
Samantha Semmalar (“Dr. Sam”) is an Ayurvedic intern at The Body Holiday in Saint Lucia.
“An Ayurvedic doctor can recommend the right combination of foods to balance the dosha and make the diet more effective,” he says, adding that the doctor can advise you which foods to eat and which foods to avoid.
Mahalingam “Dr. Maha ”Lakshmanan , also from The Body Holiday, agrees. He says that an Ayurvedic doctor can help determine the best food and herb choice, and help with medical problems if necessary.
If you choose to visit an Ayurvedic doctor, the doctor will interview you and make an assessment based on the information you provide. This is probably the most accurate method of finding your dosha.
If you don’t have access to an Ayurvedic doctor, you can try an online questionnaire to help you find your dominant dosha type. But questionnaires may not always be accurate.
Once you have an idea of what your dosha might be, Dr. Maha suggests getting a book to help you create healthy meals as you learn to follow an Ayurvedic diet. Recommend Ayurvedic Cooking: A Life of Balance , The Flavors of Ayurveda and The Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook .
Pros and cons
- Emphasis on unprocessed foods
- Promotes mindful eating
- May have health benefits
- It can be effective for weight loss.
- Determining the dosha can be difficult
- Complicated, sometimes restrictive rules
- Some herbs can interact with prescription and over-the-counter medications
Here are some of the possible benefits of following an Ayurvedic eating plan, such as a focus on whole foods, mindful eating practices, and possibly weight loss.
Whole Food Approach
Some Ayurvedic practitioners urge their students to eat only local foods. While this is not practical for many people, it could induce you to eat more whole, unprocessed foods, which tend to be healthier than processed ones.
Ayurvedic practices suggest eating consciously and intuitively. That means paying attention to your food and your body’s messages about it. It means taking time to savor your food, eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full.
Although Ayurvedic medicine has been practiced for thousands of years, much of the evidence supporting its efficacy is observational.
However, as interest in the approach increases, more researchers are conducting high-quality studies supporting the use of the system to improve health.
- Harvard researchers conducted a study supporting the possible use of holistic health interventions, including Ayurveda, to help people maintain new, healthy behaviors. 1
- A pilot research found that Ayurvedic practices appear to improve psychosocial health among overweight or obese yoga students. However, these researchers cautioned that the results should be interpreted with caution due to problems with study design and other issues. 2
- A study conducted in Sweden found that Ayurvedic medicine improved outcomes for some study participants with respiratory, musculoskeletal, circulatory, tumor, and skin diseases. 3
Potential weight loss
It is unclear whether the weight loss resulting from the Ayurvedic diet comes from eating dosha or from the focus on whole foods and mindful eating. However, some research has shown its effectiveness.
A review published in the International Journal of Obesity reported that a trial of Ayurvedic herbal weight loss preparations resulted in clinically significant weight loss compared to placebo. 4
Researchers from the University of New Mexico and the University of Arizona published a study that reported that a lifestyle modification program based on yoga and Ayurveda is an acceptable and feasible approach to weight management. 5
There may be potential health benefits to following an Ayurvedic diet, but it is difficult to identify which lifestyle factors are the most beneficial. There are also some potential downsides to this diet and lifestyle.
Determination of Dosha
Keep in mind that the process of finding your dosha is subjective, even if you visit an Ayurvedic doctor. It is not based on objective data, such as a blood or urine test.
For that reason, it may not be entirely accurate. Your dosha can also be a combination of more than one type. You may need to make a few adjustments along the way.
An Ayurvedic physician may not be a licensed physician in the United States.
In the United States, no state authorizes Ayurvedic practitioners , although some have approved Ayurvedic schools.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) provide guidelines for finding and choosing a complementary care provider, such as an Ayurvedic physician. In general, the NIH recommends that you speak with your primary care physician about using alternative health practices.
Even if there is growing evidence to support an Ayurvedic diet for weight loss or wellness, no eating plan will work if you don’t follow it in the long term. Both Dr. Maha and Dr. Sam acknowledge that some people have difficulty maintaining the program.
Dr. Maha says that limited food options and even the taste of food can be difficult for some when they start out. Aside from the taste, the complexity of an Ayurvedic diet can be intimidating for some.
If following the dosha eating plan seems too confusing, some experts suggest simply using the basic eating principles.
Sarajean Rudman is an Ayurvedic physician and clinical nutritionist. She doesn’t suggest dosha-specific foods, but rather foods that aid in digestion and lifestyle practices that emphasize listening to your body, achieving balance, and intuitive eating and exercise.
Instead of focusing on weight loss, you help your clients focus on wellness. She suggests choosing nutritious whole foods over processed foods, ignoring calorie counting, and eating intuitively to control portion sizes.
Rudman says that adopting a holistic Ayurvedic lifestyle that is tailored to your personal needs will produce results without restriction, without hunger, or without that feeling of being stuck on a diet.
Side effects and interactions
The NIH cautions consumers that certain Ayurvedic products, herbs, or combinations of herbs can cause side effects and can be harmful if used incorrectly.
If you take prescription medications, consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking herbal preparations, as interactions can occur.
How is compared
The Ayurvedic diet shares some qualities with other diets that incorporate lifestyle elements and a philosophy of wellness. However, because it is customized by dosha, it is difficult to compare it to the guidelines of nutrition experts.
This is how the Ayurvedic diet compares broadly to the USDA recommendations for adult nutrition.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines suggest filling your plate with a balanced combination of protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
While Ayurveda also emphasizes balance, it does not offer guidance on food groups or macronutrients (such as how much protein to eat). Instead, the focus is on what foods to eat within a category based on your dosha.
While the USDA suggests calorie ranges for weight loss and maintenance, the Ayurvedic diet instead emphasizes mindful and intuitive eating – listening to your body to determine what it needs to eat, when, and how much.
If your goal is to lose weight, you may need to combine calorie counting with Ayurvedic advice on what foods to eat (maybe only until you know what serving sizes work best for you and how to best interpret your body’s hunger signals ).
If you are still interested in determining your individual calorie needs, you can do so with this calculator.
All of these diets promote whole foods over processed ones, avoid counting calories, and suggest that the diet can help your body achieve balance and well-being.
- Philosophy: Doctors believe that an Ayurvedic lifestyle, including diet, can help promote health. Diet guidelines include mindful eating and consuming foods that are appropriate for your dosha or constitutional type.
- General Nutrition: The Ayurvedic diet emphasizes whole foods, but does not restrict any one food group to everyone. Instead, it offers lists of foods to favor and avoid based on dosha. In this way, you can offer balanced nutrition as long as users make healthy choices about what to eat.
- Flexibility – careful compliance with the rules is not required; those who follow the Ayurvedic diet can make their own decisions about what works for them and their body.
- Sustainability: For Ayurveda advocates, this is a way of eating (and living) for life. But not everyone who tries this diet will want to continue it forever.
- Philosophy: Like the Ayurvedic diet, the goal of the macrobiotic diet is to find balance through food. This diet is also customized based on factors such as gender, age, and climate.
- General Nutrition: This diet also emphasizes local foods, but also completely restricts processed foods and animal products (except for small amounts of fish and shellfish). This leaves out some important nutrients, so users have to try harder to make sure they get what they need.
- Flexibility: While diet can be restrictive, there are many ways to interpret it. This allows for some flexibility (but also some confusion).
- Sustainability – Diet restriction can make it difficult to adhere to over time.
Whole Food Diet
- Philosophy: On a whole food diet , the goal is to eat only whole foods. Nothing processed is allowed.
- General Nutrition: Since only processed foods, which tend to be less healthy than whole foods, are restricted, this diet offers a lot of nutrients and a lot of fiber.
- Flexibility – This is not a formal eating plan, so there is room to interpret it in a way that works for you. For example, you may decide that minimally processed foods (such as washed salad greens or canned foods with no added sugar or salt) are acceptable.
- Sustainability: processed foods are convenient. Buying, preparing, and cooking all of your own whole foods can be exhausting, but many people choose to stick with this long-term eating plan.
Blood type diet
- Philosophy: Like the Ayurvedic diet, the blood type diet is personalized, in this case, by blood type rather than dosha. The theory is that for wellness, you should eat and avoid certain foods based on your blood type.
- General nutrition: diet varies significantly among the four blood types (A, B, AB, and O); some are more restrictive than others. But for everyone, whole foods are preferred over processed ones.
- Flexibility: there is not much flexibility here; your blood type doesn’t change, so the rules about what to eat don’t either.
- Sustainability: This could depend a lot on what your blood type is and what your rules are. For example, the Type O diet eliminates dairy and grains and limits vegetables to a moderate amount. This could be difficult to follow.
A word from the Expert
The Ayurvedic diet has been practiced by millions of people for thousands of years and is well accepted in many parts of the world as a key component of overall health and wellness.
There are many elements of the meal plan that overlap with the nutritional fundamentals practiced by Western medical and health experts.
If weight loss is your goal, you will likely see results if you adopt an Ayurvedic diet and build meals around whole, unprocessed foods and mindful eating practices.
However, the National Institutes of Health warn consumers that certain Ayurvedic products, herbs, or combinations of herbs can cause side effects and can be harmful if used incorrectly.
Always discuss any major diet changes or herbal medications with your healthcare provider to ensure they do not interfere with current medications or with the management of your medical conditions.