Staying Cool: Balancing Pitta Dosha
Pitta is one of the three psycho-physiological elements that govern the different activites of mind and body. Composed of fire and water, Pitta dosha governs metabolism and transformation in the body, including digestion. Pitta is associated with heat, and its effects are especially felt during the hot summer, from July to October. Whether you have a lot of Pitta in your constitution or not, you need to pay attention to pacifying Pitta during the summer.
Signs of an aggravated Pitta include excess stomach acid, heartburn, skin eruptions and irritability. Following a Pitta-pacifying diet can help keep this fiery element in balance.
A Pitta-pacifying diet
What's the first thing you reach for on a hot summer day-a cold drink? We instinctively know that cool drinks and cool foods help balance Pitta and replenish fluid levels in the body. But if a drink is ice-cold, it will douse your digestive fire and disrupt digestion, so it's best to avoid iced drinks, especially during meals. Also stay away from carbonated drinks because they slow down digestion. Freshly blended fruit juices and nectars drunk at room temperature are nutritious, satisfying and delicious. Grapes, sweet pineapple and water melon are some refreshing choices.
To keep Pitta in balance, favor the sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and avoid salty, sour and hot spicy foods. Sweet foods include rice and bread. Milk, butter and ghee are all cooling foods. Fully ripe sweet juicy fruits like melons, cherries, grapes, pears and mangoes, and vegetables such as cucumber, broccoli, zucchini and asparagus are pitta-pacifying. Minimize yogurt, sour cream, citrus fruits and spicy foods like cayenne. Also avoid vegetables with heating properties such as tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, onions, garlic and spinach.
Cook with cooling spices such as fennel, mint and coriander, and reduce hot spices such as dried ginger and mustard seed.
Favor foods that are liquid rather than dry, and cool or lukewarm rather than hot. Lentil soups flavored with Pitta Churna make a nutritious pitta-pacifying meal.
Drink lots of room temperature or cool water and sip 2-3 cups of Pitta Tea during the day. Pitta Tea contains cooling spices and rose petals, renowned in ayurveda for cooloing down the mind, body and emotions. Fresh fruit juices and the water from young coconuts are wonderful pick-me-ups on warm sultry days. At bedtime, stir in some Rose Petal Preserve into milk that has been boiled and cooled for a soothing beverage. Rose Petal Lassi makes a refreshing lunchtime beverage.
Good eating habits
To keep digestion efficient and to keep Pitta dosha from getting aggravated, it is important to follow good eating habits: Don't skip meals, especially breakfast. If you want a light breakfast, try stewed apples and pears. For a heartier meal to start the day, follow the stewed fruit with some sweet cooked cereal.
Eat lunch as close to noon as possible. Lunch should be your heaviest meal of the day. Include two or three servings of vegetables, whole grains, lentils and fresh cheese. Drink a glass of Sweet Rose Petal Lassi or Digestive Lassi flavored with cooling mint and cilantro.
If you need to go out in the sun when it's hot, don't do it on an empty stomach. Eat a sweet juicy pear and a spoonful of Rose Petal Preserve to help reduce photosensitivity.
Herbs that heal
The Aci-Balance nutritional supplement can help put out the fire inside if you experience excess stomach acid. The Liver Balance formula helps maintain liver health and keep digestion and bile production balanced. Organic Premium Amla Berry is especially balancing for Pitta. It helps replenish vital nutrients that are depleted by excess heat, stress and overwork.
Cooling Summer Drinks
Cooling fruits and spices make refreshing and nutritious summer beverages. Look for sweet mangos and young coconuts in Oriental markets.
- 2-3 cups diced seeded watermelon
- 4-5 fresh mint leaves, washed 1 sprig of fresh mint for garnish
Blend the watermelon and mint leaves to a smooth puree and serve cool, garnished with the sprig of fresh mint.
Spiced Coconut Smoothie
- Water and meat from one young coconut
- 2-3 Medjool dates, pits removed and chopped roughly ⅛ tsp ground cardamom
Blend all ingredients to a smooth puree.
Fennel-Laced Mango Milk
- 1 sweet ripe mango, peeled, pitted and diced
- 1-2 cups milk, boiled and cooled
- ⅛ tsp fennel Sugar to taste (optional)
Blend all ingredients to a smooth puree.
These articles provide a great resource from The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians on the knowledge, practices, products, and applications of Maharishi Ayurveda.
The sole purpose of these newsletters is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, prevention or cure of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area.