As both an Ayurvedic Practitioner, and the owner of a Functional Medicine Clinic, one of the best pieces of wisdom I’ve gained from synthesizing these health modalities is how to use targeted supplementation to balance our general tendencies for imbalance.
We all get out of balance, and Ayurveda takes this a step further by helping us identify the specific direction we become out of balance. According to Ayurveda, some people’s tendency is to get out of balance by becoming deficient (think someone very thin, brittle hair/nails), while other’s tendency for imbalance is accumulation (think someone round and soft like a teddy bear). This tendency is crucial to understand, and the general approach to nutrition and supplementation is completely different depending on these tendencies.
The aim of health is to stay in balance. If we don’t understand the basic direction in which our scale tends to tip, we can’t guide ourselves back into balance. If our fundamental approach to nutrition is off, it can have significant long-term health consequences.
I find most people struggle to get results from their supplements is because they are taking them blindly, without awareness of their tendency for imbalance. It’s miraculous what can be done to our health when we follow this basic framework. Over the past two years, my sister who is 5’2, 100lb was trying to get pregnant with her husband. She was struggling and on the cusp of taking all sorts of unnatural hormones and treatments to try to get pregnant. Knowing her Ayurvedic constitution as tending to very frail, she worked with one of the doctors at my clinic who put her on a rather intense round of nutrition and supplements to boost her nutrient density significantly. Within a month, she gained 10 pounds and got pregnant!
However, not everyone exhibits these same tendencies. Some people struggle with fertility for the opposite reason; excess accumulation in the body which can lead to fibroids, stagnant energy, and an accumulation of toxins. For someone with this tendency, actual the very opposite approach would be most helpful; clearing and cleansing nutrition and supplements to get stagnant energy flowing again.
The Ayurvedic framework gives us a helpful way to navigate and create a basic nutrition and supplementation protocol for ourselves.
Vata– Think someone thin, energetically flighty, and with brittle hair and nails.
The Vata tendency for imbalance is Deficiency.
People with excess Vata have a difficult time holding onto Minerals. It’s estimated that 80-90% of people in the US are nutrient deficient. As a result, they lose weight easily and become quickly burnt out. Vata’s typically don’t need to worry as much about detoxing, as their natural constitutions don’t hold onto toxicity as easily as the Kapha type.
For this reason, the Vata’s primary function in nutrition and supplementation is to get dense nutrients and minerals in the body. My favorite supplements to balance Vata are:
- Ancestral Nutrition Beef Organs. This is one of the best, cheapest ways to get a variety of nutrients many of us are missing. It’s a high-quality blend of beef liver, kidney, and heart in pill form.
- Athletic Greens. Think of this one as a daily vitamin that actually works. As a vata myself, I really feel the difference in how I feel when I take this.
- Eating Meat. I find it helpful to think of meat as a supplement, rather than a staple food. Its important for those with significant vata tendencies to eat meat and animal products. While it is possible to get the same nutrients with a vegan or vegetarian diet, many of the vegan replacement products are significantly harder to digest and don’t absorb into the body the way we need. Leave veganism for the Kaphas!
Pitta – Think of someone with proportional features, a piercing gaze, and very ambitious.
The Pitta tendency for imbalance in Inflammation.
As a result, Pitta’s can be very prone to digestive inflammation, arthritis, and skin breakouts. I find people with a Pitta-heavy constitution are most likely to experience autoimmune symptoms. My favorite supplements for Pittas are:
- Deglycyrrhizinated Licorice Root Extract. My favorite Functional Doctor recently turned me onto this product. Licorice has a strong cooling (ayurvedic term for anti-inflammatory) property. It’s amazing to take 20 minutes before eating, as it significantly relaxes and reduces inflammation in the digestive tract. I love the taste of it also 🙂
- Liposomal Curcumin. Curcumin is the active ingredient in Tumeric, known to reduce inflammation.
- Amalaki powder. Amalaki power is the core Ayurvedic herb for balancing Pitta. It’s extremely clearing and has the highest potency of vitamin C of anything we know that’s natural. I recommend taking the powder form in a glass of warm water, as according to Ayurveda we must taste the herb to actually integrate the medicine.
Kapha – Think of someone with wide features, who tend to carry a bit of extra weight and has the energy of a teddy bear.
The Kapha tendency for imbalance is Accumulation. For those with Kapha tendencies, their primary role in nutrition and supplementation is to cleanse the body and to keep energy moving to prevent stagnation and lethargy. It’s for this reason Kapha’s are advised not to eat meat and animal products and to eat light.
- Digestive Bitters. I could write a whole article on digestive bitters! Bitters are extremely important for everyone but most important for Kaphas types. According to Ayruvedic Medicine, bitter herbs signal to the cells to release and detox. There have been many studies on Apple Cider Vinegar and how drinking apple cider vinegar alone, 15 minutes before meals promotes weight loss. There are a ton of options for digestive bitters, but I find most of them are not potent enough to work- I love Heron Botanical’s digestive bitter. You’ll know you find the right one for you when 5-10 minutes after taking your digestive bitter, you feel a release feeling in your abdomen, which is your gallbladder releasing Bile.
- Daily Celery Juice. For Kapha, it’s very important to get the bitter flavors in their diet which prompt cleansing. Celery juice is one of the best ways to cleanse the body, and is a very easy habit to get into.
- Trikatu– Trikatu is the core Ayurvedic herb for Kapha balancing. I recommend taking the powder form in a glass of warm water, as according to Ayurveda we must taste the herb actually to integrate the medicine.
Photos by Unsplash