The first thing ayurvedic physicians do when a person visits them is to assess their prakriti (trait). It is a Sanskrit word denoting the nature of a person.
“Ayurvedic practitioners look at a personalised approach when advising dietary recommendations and management plans,” says Dr Gopi Krishna B, assistant professor at Dr BRKR Government Ayurvedic Medical College, Erragadda, Hyderabad. These customisations are based on the person’s phenotype (observable traits).
Ayurveda bases its principles on three basic elements, namely vata, pitta and kapha. Everyone has these three elements in various permutations and combinations. However, the characteristic features of individuals depend on the dominant element in their body. Dr Krishna explains how a pitta prakriti person differs from the other types.
- Moderate body build (neither too hefty nor too skinny)
- Relatively scanty body hair
- Golden or brown body hair
- Warm body (even when the temperature is normal)
- Sharp facial features (sharp nose, jaw line and other features)
- Freckles or black moles
Dr Krishna says that people who are into modeling typically have pitta prakriti, given their good physique and features.
- Intolerance towards hot food and weather
- Excessive sweating
- Excessive thirst
- Good appetite
- Rapid metabolism
- Good appetite
- Flexible joints
- Clear bowel movement
“They can eat any kind of food and digest it with ease, and are foodies,” comments Dr Krishna.
- Able to handle tough situations with ease
“They have more sattva (mental composure) and are clever. They know what they want to do, and act according to the situation (time, person and place),” adds Dr Krishna.
Pitta is predominantly composed of the fire element, which is characteristic of warm body types. Considering individuals with the pitta body type have a predominance of the fire element, they dislike hot foods and beverages. Instead, they love to eat cold foods. They can have their food at any time and their metabolism is fast. This rapid metabolism helps them to digest any amount or kind of food.
The pitta body type is known to have optimal health. Nevertheless, they can experience skin-related issues, especially in middle age. Ayurvedic practitioners consider that the fire element (pitta) resides in the skin, eyes, blood and liver, where individuals with this body type often face health issues. Pitta prakriti people enjoy being indoors, and cold weather comforts them.
Dr Krishna says that an increase in pitta is marked by yellow urine and nails.
Ayurvedic physicians recommend bitter and cooling herbs and vegetables. To name some, bitter gourd, pointed gourd, ridge gourd, ash gourd, pumpkin, cucumber, okra, beetroot, yam, sweet potato, and green leafy vegetables such as spinach, Malabar spinach and asparagus.
Fruits such as Indian gooseberry, banana, grapes, coconut, pomegranate, pear, apple, plums, musk melon, bael (stone apple), jujube, falsa (Indian sherbet berry), and wood apple are good for them.
Dry fruits such as almonds, apricots, dates can be helpful.
Coconut oil, sesame oil and groundnut oil are recommended for them.
Foods to avoid
For a pitta person, foods that make the body warm (foods with hot potency) and those that are sour are not recommended for daily consumption. Some such foodstuffs include, radish, tomatoes, garlic, ginger, chilly, pepper, long pepper, Indian sorrel, mustard, fenugreek, camphor, clove, cumin seeds, asafoetida (hing), curry leaves, tamarind, kokum, mint, nutmeg, saffron, and holy basil. Fruits such as raw mangoes, papayas, pineapples, oranges, and lemons can trigger pitta imbalance.
Moreover, cashew nuts, figs, and groundnuts should be consumed in moderation. Oils such as linseed, mustard and sunflower are not advised for regular use.
Importance of a balanced pitta
Knowing our body type helps us understand the kind of health conditions and bodily changes to expect, says Dr Krishna. Some symptoms can be physiological owing to the predominant fundamental element (vata, pitta, kapha). If we know what our body type is, we can adopt a lifestyle that is best suited for it.
Individuals with the pitta body type should not binge on foods that can cause harm to the fire element and need to consume foods that maintain hydration to offset excessive sweating. Adopting these dietary recommendations can help in maintaining and restoring health, suggest experts.