Friday, 4 January 2008

The Vata-Pitta-Kapha debate

If you're wondering what ridiculous terrain I have stumbled on now, fear not. What I am about to tell you is crucial to knowing yourself, and, most importantly, what your body accepts or rejects in terms of food. Well what else would a detox maniac like me be raving about?

Today, at an wonderfully tranquil oasis in London, one of the top spas in the UK as voted by the Independent, the Shymala Ayurveda Spa, I discovered from the most courteous and bright Indian doctor that my dosha (body type) is Vata-Kapha.

Before you stifle a yawn and mumble what does this have to do with me, here's a quick lowdown of how Ayurveda, this 5,000 year old ancient science applies to you, your mind, body and spirit:

We all have three main elements (doshas) present within our bodies: vata (air), pitta (fire) and kapha (water). Most people have two of these elements, exceptionally balanced people will have three.

At any one time though, we most certainly will have two doshas subject to changes in our lifetime. However if we have more air for instance, which is what the doctor discovered with me, we find we get anxious, prone to depression, headaches, stressed, dry skin, inability to digest food properly and there's so much more I can go on but I don't want to overload you with information.

Hence I came to understand why acute stress, led to my shoulders being hunched up around my ears, chronic neck and shoulder pain and headaches - I have a Vata imbalance.

This is news to me because up until this point I thought I was a Kapha/Pitta type. Kapha types are slow, mother-earth types, have nourished skin and lustrious hair and generally have a very calm temperament. Pitta types are prone to rashes, redness in the skin if there is an imbalance and like the dosha suggests can be fiery when buttons are pushed!

At the end of my much needed massage, the polite Indian doctor gave me a Vata-Kapha diet to follow and for the first time I could see in plain black and white that all the foods I shouldn't have been eating, I have ignored my inner voice, grumbles and aches and pains and just kept on eating.

Check out the Shymala Ayurveda website and pay a visit. There are various detox/weight loss programmes too at a price but I would say well worth it.

Diet Drinks vs Full Fat drinks

Do diet versions of fizzy drinks make you believe you are not consuming that much sugar? I've been to see various nutritionists, including the UK's Food Doctor nutritionists, who say that diet drinks are full of sweeteners and give people the illusion of consuming less sugar.

Diet drink tip: avoid them if you can. Sweeteners play havoc with your blood sugar levels. Better to drink fruit juices - full fat like the Innocent smoothies/juices or Ocean Spray cranberry juice, a bit tart in taste but very good for you or pomegranate juice which seems to be the superfood of the moment.

If possible cut out diet drinks, especially fizzy ones completely from your diet. For those addicted to them and feel they can't do without, try drinking the new V-waters, a bit expensive but do the trick in terms of fizz and sugar but good sugar, because there aren't any sweeteners.

Pret's Pomegranate Power or Elderflower water does wonders too and great for glowing skin.