Do the words burnout, hothead, fired up, irritable, rage, anger, or rash spark familiarity in you?
All of these words reflect imbalances that are caused by excess heat in the body. Ayurveda calls this heat “pitta.”
Each summer, a slow and steady accumulation of heat builds up both in the environment and in the body. In nature, this thermal accumulation is linked to many profound phenomena that take place in the fall: Birds fly south, whales migrate, leaves turn red and fall from trees, and the long days are replaced with long nights.
Nutritionally-dense foods like fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, and legumes grow and cook in the sun all summer long, making them ripe and rich with vital nutrition. These foods are harvested in the fall, and upon consumption, their nutrients are easily stored in the body as its natural energy reserve—our fat.
Ancestrally speaking, these summer foods were eaten in preparation for the winter famine. Doing so ensured extra energy reserves and a nice layer of immune-boosting insulation to get us through the cold winter months.
Today, the trend is to avoid fruits and grains because of the fear of “fat.” However, eating only meat and vegetables is a famine diet. While these foods are now abundantly available year-round, these foods were never intended to be eaten year-round, year after year.
The summer’s harvest provides an abundance of cooling fruits and vegetables. Fruits such as apples, pomegranates, and watermelons act as superfoods to cool us down at the end of every summer. They are the perfect antidote for the end-of-summer thermal accumulation.
What Happens if we Don’t Cool our Pitta?
If we don’t eat these cooling and nutritious summer foods, we won’t store the energy reserves and insulation we require to get through the winter healthy and strong.
We also won’t dissipate the excess heat that builds up in the body; we will carry it into winter. This accumulation of heat will slowly dry the body out, making the body similar to a dry and dusty desert.
The end result isn’t pretty. Dryness in the winter can lead to an imbalance in the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract, intestinal tract, skin, and joints, which is associated with a whole host of winter health concerns.
The body’s immune system is fundamentally maintained in the gut and respiratory tracts. When these dry out, they react by producing more mucus, which often manifests as a runny nose or a looser stool. This excess mucus is a breeding ground for undesirable bacteria.
Seasonal Prevention: Prepare for the Coming Season, Each Season.
According to Ayurveda, the health we enjoy each winter is a direct result of how well we adhered to the seasonal practices (food and lifestyle) during the prior spring and summer.
In nature, the cycle of life and nutrition is annual. We cannot thrive if we eat, drink, sleep, work, and play in same way 365 days a year. Humans—like birds, whales, and other creatures—must begin to reconnect our lifestyle and diet to the natural rhythms of nature.
Once we do so, instead of feeling exhausted at the end of the day, we will experience the benefits of swimming downstream with the current, and we’ll enjoy the same energy and vitality at the end of the day as when we started.
Must-Know Facts about the Pitta Dosha.
“Wherever there is transformation, there is pitta.”
Pitta provides the following functions:
>> Metabolism—from digestion of food to transformation of all other material.
>> Thermogenesis—maintains the proper body temperature.
>> Comprehension of information into knowledge, reasoning, and judgment.
>> Complexion—gives color and softness to skin.
Pitta: hot, moist (oily), light
Elements: fire and water
Season: late spring/summer
Times of day: 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Taste/qualities (+): pungent, sour, salty, hot, dry
(These are the qualities of pitta. To decrease pitta, use less of these qualities in food, beverage, and environment. For instance, chips and salsa (pungent, salty, dry) will increase pitta.)
Taste/Qualities (-): sweet, bitter, astringent, cold, heavy, oily
(To increase and balance excess pitta, use more of these qualities in food, beverage, and environment.)
Best oils for pitta: sesame, coconut, ghee, sunflower
Body type characteristics:
- Medium frame, medium weight.
- Thin, lustrous hair with fine curls.
- Soft, medium oily, pink to red skin.
- Penetrating eyes.
- Small to medium yellowish teeth.
- Average walking pace, competitive.
- Good strength and endurance.
- Sharp intellect, aggressive, good general memory, medium pitch, clear voice.
- Slow-changing moods, angers easily, quick temper, likes things to be orderly.
- Sharp hunger, can’t miss a meal, good digestion, normal elimination.
- Aversion to dry and hot weather.
- Prefers cold food/drink and eats at an easy pace.
- Saves money, but is a big spender.
- Moderate sex drive.
- Sound, medium-length sleep and dreams are fiery, violent, and angry.
Don’t know your Ayurvedic body type? Take our free body type quiz here.
Top 20 Ayurvedic Eating Tips to Improve Digestion.
Author: Dr. John Douillard
Image: Flickr/Mario Antonio Pena Zapatería
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina
Copy editor: Nicole Cameron
Social editor: Callie Rushton
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