Ayurvedic approach to food and drinks is centralized around optimizing your digestive agni (fire), which is individually unique. This individualized approach not only applies to what should be consumed, but also how. What might be good for one may not be good for someone else; for example, seltzer waters are great for Kapha (Earth and Water) types who lack the Air element, but aggravate Vata (Space and Air) who are dominant in the air element.
Let’s start with the focusing on how we should consume beverages using the Ayurvedic view on digestive agni. Though the strength of the fire naturally fluctuates in a day, it’s essential to keep the fire burning so that we can process what we consume. Here are a few tips on how liquid consumption can assist with this:
- Sip versus guzzle. Small sips of liquid are said to stoke our fire while gulping down copious amounts at once is more likely to smother it. This applies to all drinks, whether it is water or beer.
- Avoid drinking big amounts with your meals. The time we need our digestive fire to be burning the hottest is around mealtime, thus it’s best we only drink small amounts close to or during mealtime.
- Opt for hot, warm, or room temperature. Drinking cold or iced drinks can easily put out your digestive fire. Cool drinks are favored in a few circumstance such as summer heat when your body is feeling too warm. However, consume consciously by making sure it isn’t with food or is at least an hour or two between meals. This way, you can cool off without it being too detrimental to your digestion.
Now let’s chat about what should be consumed based on your primary constitution (Dosha). Remember that the doshas can fluctuate throughout your life, so pay close attention to how your lifestyle and body has changed and how it may impact your dosha. The focus on the dosha’s is to ensure that what we drink doesn’t aggravate us, rather pacifies our digestive fires. Here are some guidelines to help:
- For Vata (predominant in Air and Space elements) dosha, the driest of all three constitutions, hydration is a priority. Milky or creamy drinks are good, as they help bring a sense of stability and calm. The vata dosha should reduce diuretics, anything that promotes loss of water from the body, such as coffee and tea, because they can make this constitution’s inherent dryness worse. Additionally, it’s best to decrease carbonated drinks since this constitution is already made of air.
- The Pitta (Fire and Water Elements) constitution is the middle path when it comes to the amount of liquids to consume. They run hot, which can lead to dryness, but they in part are made of water. Fruit juice or green drinks (leafy greens, celery, spirulina, chlorella) along with coconut water are great choices for Pitta Dosha as they are naturally cooling. Pitta dosha should avoid too many fermented drinks, such as kombucha, beer, wine, and other alcohol, as the fermentation increases heat—something that pitta already has a lot of. For the same reason, this constitution should also decrease any beverages that are acidic.
- For Kaphas (Earth and Water Elements), the natural need for liquids is quite limited. Water or herbal teas are best; this is also the one dosha that can get by with a little caffeine, as the heaviness of this constitution could use a little boost. Kaphas should decrease creamy or milky drinks and reduce cool to cold drinks, as these things can cause them to feel especially stagnant.