Do you know that according to Ayurveda, the heart is the centre of Prana (life force)? This is because the oxygen-rich blood and nutrients are transported to different parts of the body through the heart. Also, not many people know that everyone has different body types or Prakriti and the susceptibility to suffer from a heart disease with specific symptoms is dependent on the Prakriti of the person. According to Ayurveda, Prakriti is a term used to describe the physical and mental makeup of a person. Dr Jaishree Bhattacharjee, Senior Ayurvedic Doctor, Dr Shikha’s NutriHealth explains about different prakritis, and the risk of suffering from a heart disease along with diet dos and don’ts.
Vata Prakriti (air element)
If you belong to Vata Prakriti, then you are at a high risk of suffering from heart diseases that are manifested by changes in the heart rate or pain in the heart. These include heart attack, hypertension, abnormal heartbeat (arrhythmia) and weakness of the heart muscle. The major cause of this is excessive strain, anxiety, lack of sleep, stress and overwork.
Diet dos and don’ts:
1. Avoid excessive intake of junk food or foods made from refined flour, particularly foods which are dry in nature, as it aggravates vata.
2. Do not skip meals or overexert while exercising as it may further worsen your condition by disturbing vata balance in the body.
3. Try to include Indian spices like fenugreek (methi), cinnamon (dalchini), mustard (rai), fennel (saunf) and cumin (jeera) in the diet as it helps you to maintain a proper balance of three doshas in the body.
4. Make sure you add garlic in your meals as it helps in avoiding the aggravation of vata.
5. To combat stress and anxiety and lower your risk of heart disease, you can take ashwagandha powder (3 gms) with milk every day.
Pitta Prakriti (Fire element)
If you are of Pitta Prakriti, then you are prone to heart disease that is indicated by swelling of the heart muscle with or without inflammation. In most cases, the cause of heart disease in people with pitta dosha is due to an underlying liver disorder or excessive heat in the body.
Diet dos and don’ts:
1. Stay away from eating excessive spicy or fried foods as it will only trigger an inflammation putting your heart in trouble. Moreover, also restrict the intake of Pitta aggravating foods, which majorly include sour or salty foods such as papad and pickles.
2. As tea, coffee and alcohol are heat inducing foods (stimulate excessive heat production), it is wise to replace these drinks with lemon water and green tea to keep the pitta levels in control.
3. To make the most of your diet, include spices like turmeric (haldi), coriander (dhania), cumin (jeera) and fennel (saunf) to balance doshas and maintain a healthy heart.
4. As far as herbs are concerned, you can have Arjun bark (3 gms) decoction with milk on a daily basis or take two tablespoons of aloe vera juice with two tablespoons of water on an empty stomach every day.
5. For emotional well-being and anger management, you can practise pranayama or anulom vilom, which also helps to keep pitta levels under control.
Kaphaprakriti (Water element)
Lastly, if you fall under the Kapha dosha, then you are more at a risk of suffering from heart diseases that are characterised by an accumulation of fats (lipids) and calcium in the arteries or degenerated blood vessels. And this, in the long run, can lead to thickening and blockage of the blood vessels, leading to reduced supply of the blood to the heart. If you are of Kapha Prakriti, diseases like ischemic heart disease and coronary artery disease are quite common.
Diet dos and don’ts
1. It is best to avoid oily foods and comfort foods like fries, chips, deep fried foods, if you are of Kapha Prakriti.
2. To counteract the harmful effects on the heart in Kapha Prakriti people, it is better to indulge in a light form of exercises like brisk walking for 20 – 25 minutes every day or five times a week. Also read about yoga for your heart – 20 poses to keep it healthy
3. If you are of Kapha Prakriti, your energy is moist, stable and cool and hence, to balance it, you have to eat foods which are warm, dry and easy-to-digest like fruits, green tea, broccoli, cabbage and dark leafy vegetables.
4. As far as spices are concerned, you can include cinnamon (dalchini), black pepper (kali mirch) and dry ginger powder (soonth) in foods to deal with excess Kapha levels in the body.
5. If you are planning to go the natural way, then you can have arjuna bark powder (3 gms) with honey two times a day or have trikatu powder (3 gms) with warm water, preferably after meals.