Pitta dosha brings to mind the words hot, sharp, sour and wet.
This dosha controls all forms of metabolism and transformation including the processing of food and sensory experience. Its presence creates a sharp intellect, articulate speech, muscular body, powerful digestion and an ambitious personality.
Pitta is associated with heat and may become excessive during the hot, humid summer months. Signs of excess pitta include stomach acid, heartburn, waking up in the middle of the night, high blood pressure, acne, irritability and intense thoughts or emotions.
To reduce excess pitta, it’s important to go to bed before 10 p.m. and to avoid salty, sour, hot or spicy foods. Avoid skipping meals (especially breakfast), violent movies, loud music, alcohol, pollution and excessive sexual activity.
Instead, favor cooling activities like swimming or walking outdoors in the early morning or evening. Avoid exercise in the middle of the day or in hot weather. If you need to go out in the sun when it's hot, don't do it on an empty stomach.
Take cool foods and drinks to help balance pitta and replenish fluid levels in the body. Avoid ice cold drinks or foods as they douse your digestive fire and disrupt digestion. Carbonated drinks should also be minimized, as they slow down digestion. Avoid hot foods and drinks and take them instead at room temperature.
A pitta pacifying diet includes three meals per day consisting of sweet, bitter and astringent foods that cool the system.
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 (clarified butter).
Avoid sugar and sugary foods. 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 (sour) fruits, tomatoes, hot peppers, radishes, onions, garlic and spinach. Salads, cucumbers, leafy greens, fresh, raw, sweet, ripe fruits (especially pears) and aloe vera juice will help to reduce excess pitta.
Favor 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. Fresh fruit juices and milk from young coconuts are great on hot days.
Don’t skip breakfast and 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 and beans.
Pitta balancing diet:
- Dairy - All dairy products are okay except aged cheeses. Choose fresh, soft cheeses like cottage cheese, ricotta cheese and panir (milk curd). Avoid milk with meals and never drink it ice cold.
- Sweeteners - Minimize or avoid all sweeteners.
- Grains - Wheat and basmati rice are best.
- Fruits - Red grapes, raisins, tangerine, pomegranate, coconut, apricot, peach, melon, guava, kiwi, mango, papaya, banana, apples, melon and persimmon. Make sure all fruits are ripe and sweet. Pears and coconut milk are especially good for pitta.
- Vegetables - Zucchini, fennel, artichoke, asparagus, lettuce, sweet potato, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, chard, kale, cucumber, fresh corn, squash, bell pepper.
- Spices - Cardamom, mint, cinnamon, fennel, cumin, coriander and fresh basil. Avoid salt and hot spices.
- Nuts and seeds - Avoid all nuts except almonds that have been soaked overnight and have the skins removed. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are good for pitta.
- Beans - All beans are good.
- Oils - Olive oil, coconut oil and ghee (clarified butter).
Foods to avoid:
- Hot, pungent foods and ice cold drinks.
- Corn, barley, millet, rye, buckwheat, wild rice
- Grapefruit, limes, lemons, pineapple and any sour, unripe fruits
- Radishes, spinach, cucumber, tomato, eggplant, onions, garlic, hot peppers
- Honey, sugar, maple syrup
- Salty snacks and alcoholic drinks
For more info: mapi.com.
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Disclaimer: The sole purpose of this article and all my writings 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.
Keith DeBoer is a freelance writer, lecturer and consultant who became a certified teacher of the Transcendental Meditation technique in 1976. He has studied Transcendental Meditation and Maharishi Ayurveda in the United States, Europe and India, and is the former Director of Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Lancaster, MA. He has a doctorate of World Peace Studies from MERU Holland.