Life & Style | Health

Pitta, the energy of digestion and metabolism

Highly ambitious but intensely jealousy and egoistic? You could be a Pitta person

  • By Binu Sivan
  • Published: 10:00 December 13, 2012
  • Gulf News

Welcome to the Pitta family. Let’s discover what makes this dosha work. Everyone agrees that good health is tied to balance. Balance, or homeostasis, is the cornerstone of Ayurveda which sees the ideal physical condition as when the tridoshas are in balance. An aggravated or depleted dosha creates imbalances. Invariably we are subject to imbalances related to our predominant dosha, so for example if you are a Pitta body type then your imbalances will mostly be Pitta related.

Pitta, the energy governed by fire, is the energy of digestion and metabolism, and aids in the assimilation of everything from sensory perceptions and ideas to food. The main locations of Pitta in the body are the small intestine, stomach, liver, spleen, pancreas, blood, eyes, and sweat.

In a Pitta body type, the bones are less conspicuous than in the Vata individual and muscle development is moderate. The skin is soft, warm and less dry than Vata skin. Hair is thin, silky with a tendency towards premature graying and hair loss. Eyes are bright, nails are soft and the shape of the nose is sharp. They have sharp teeth, tapering chin, sensitive teeth and a heart-shaped face. Pitta people seldom gain or lose much weight when in balance. They possess soft, oily skin and hair, and have excess urine, sweat and thirst.

Physiologically, their body temperature tends to be higher than average and as a result they dislike heat and cannot tolerate bright lights, which is why most Pitta individuals get stressed and tired during summer months and have warm hands and feet. Their sleep is of medium duration but uninterrupted.

Psychologically, a Pitta individual has a sharp memory, understanding and a probing mind coupled with discipline and intense ambition. They exhibit leadership qualities and are orderly, assertive, competitive, self-confident and enjoy challenges. They make good public speakers but are also capable of sharp, sarcastic and cutting speech. They also like to spend money and surround themselves with beautiful objects.

An imbalanced Pitta can result in the individual suffering from a negative reaction to the environment. This can be a reaction to the heat or bright lights or stress. When imbalanced, they tend to be irritable, stubborn, judgmental and cynical and are capable of strong feelings of anger, rage, hate, jealousy and an out-of-control ego. As leaders, when imbalanced, they become aggressive, impatient, demanding and pushy. Dr Chandy says, “There is an old Ayurvedic saying: ‘An imbalanced Pitta individual doesn’t go to hell; he or she simply creates it wherever they go.”

Physically, a Pitta imbalance includes problems like rash or inflammation of the skin, acne, boils, bleeding gums, ulcers, heartburn, hot sensations in the stomach or intestines, insomnia, bloodshot or burning eyes, other vision problems, anaemia, jaundice, and more than usual volume of urination,

To remain balanced, a Pitta individual should avoid excess heat or humidity and exercise only during the cooler hours. They should also avoid excessively oily food or fried foods as well as caffeine, alcohol, red meat, hot spices, or salt, choosing instead to eat fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains. Pitta types should also try to get plenty of fresh air and not suppress emotions as it has a very strong negative impact on their body

Fact Box

Nutrition guidelines:

Pitta provides the body with heat and energy through the breakdown of complex food molecules. The individual with the Pitta body type is blessed with a strong appetite and a good digestive system but they are sensitive to deep-fried food (which may cause headache). Pitta types have a natural craving for sweet, bitter and astringent tastes and enjoy cold drinks. To keep their dosha in balance they need to eat cooling food and avoid excessive intake of oily, fried food, spices and salt. Pitta individuals need to eat on time as they are not good at handling hunger.

Oil: In moderation, avocado, coconut, olive, sunflower, sesame, soya, walnut. Avoid almond, apricot and corn.

Dairy: Avoid salted butter, commercial buttermilk, hard cheese and feta cheese, yoghurt.

Grains: Barley, oats (cooked), rice (basmati), rice cakes, rice (white), brown rice occasionally, wheat, wheat bran and wheat granola.

Fruits: Opt for fruits that are sweet and avoid sour ones. For instance, have a sweet apple but avoid a sour one.

Vegetables: Sweet and bitter vegetables, artichoke, asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, most squash types, cabbage, fresh corn, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, green beans, leafy greens are good. Keep beets, carrots, eggplants and pungent vegetables to a minimum.

Legumes: Avoid black and red lentils and toor dal.

Spices: Fresh basil leaves, blackpepper, cardamom, cumin, dill, fennel, mint, parsley, saffron and turmeric in moderation.

Nuts: Avoid all except coconut.

Non-vegetarians: Chicken or turkey, egg white, fresh water fish, and shrimp (in moderation). Avoid beef, egg yolk, duck, lamb, pork and seafood.

Food and Mood

Sugar

Very few people can honestly say they don’t like the taste of sugar. “Sugar is not just an ingredient in your favourite recipe. It is also the energy source of your body. Without sugar, a body cannot function properly,” says Dr. Chandy. However, they key to sugar consumption is to have it in the right form (fresh fruits, honey and milk) and in moderation.

In Ayurveda, sugar’s basic structure is considered cold - it acts as a coolant in the body. However, sugar increases Kapha dosha, which is why Kapha body types should be careful when consuming sugar. Due to its ability to increase Kapha, excess sugar can cause imbalances leading to excessive urination, tiredness, weight loss and thirst – all classic symptoms of diabetes. Addiction to sugar can also lead to obesity, dental cavities and adrenal deficiencies.

Ayurvedic practitioners emphasis on the need to have a healthy diet of whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables to balance one’s blood sugar level. These food items are digested slowly and release energy gradually thus avoiding the sudden peaks and drops in blood sugar level that results from consumption of processed sugar and junk food. Eating as per a regular schedule, making your lunch your main meal of the day and ensuring that dinner is a light meal that is had before 7pm are all important steps to balance your blood sugar. Remember to include digestion-friendly herbs and spices like coriander, cumin, fennel, cilantro, basil, rosemary, and turmeric in your diet.

The 10 Big Villain

Hair Loss

According to Ayurveda, the health of the hair is dependent on the body’s digestive fire and the basic body type of the individual. Hair loss and other problems are related to imbalance in the Pitta dosha. The first step towards treating the problem is to find the root cause in your dietary or lifestyle behavior that is increasing your Pitta. Then you can work towards reducing or changing the diet, habit or activity.

The major causes of hair fall are hormonal, nutritional deficiencies and complication related to other diseases and medications, high stress, thyroid imbalance, sudden weight loss and high fever. Excess of Pitta dosha in the body is also aggravated by hot climatic conditions, excessive intake of spicy, salty and sour food, tea, coffee, alcohol, meats and excessive smoking. Doctors usually prescribe eating a more balanced diet, with more protein and iron components including bitter vegetables, leafy vegetables, asparagus and fresh fruits, to treat hair fall. The juice of lettuce and spinach or lettuce and carrot is also good to induce hair growth.

Ayurvedic practitioners also recommend the use of a natural shampoo like amla or shikakai to clean the hair. Oiling and massaging of scalp, with coconut oil or medicated oils like Neelibhringadi oil, Kunthala Kanthi oil, Kanjunnyadi oil, and traditional Ayurvedic treatments are also very beneficial for stopping the hair loss.

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Additional Details:

Dosha Hair quality Problems

Vata Dark, coarse, wiry, inky, and frizzy hair. Easily tangled. Dull. Split ends. Susceptible to dandruff infection

Pitta Light, fine and silky. Premature graying of hair and premature baldness. Tends to become oily in hot and dry weather.

Kapha Thick, heavy, wavy, and slightly oily. Lustrous. Generally very healthy hair.

Food flash

Bring excess blood sugar under control by adding fenugreek and cinnamon to your diet.

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