Smoothies for Vata Dosha–Part One
A reader had this comment recently about Smoothies for Vata Dosha, after reading this article about Raw Veggies or Salad for a Vatta Dominant Person.
Are Smoothies Better than Juicing for Vata Dosha?
“I see that the key here is to balance out the combination of ingredients so that the salad has the soothing and grounding properties. For a Vatta DOSHA would you recommend that instead of juicing, taking blended raw fruits and veggies which include all of the fiber and additional water? I’d like to add more raw into my diet and am hoping that including the very finely blended fiber will be balanced and grounded. Thanks!”
Here is my response:
Principles of Diet for Vata Dosha
Ayurveda wants Vata Dosha types to have a diet that is predominately, but not exclusively, warming, moistening, unctuous, soothing, and grounding, with sweet, salty, and sour tastes more than the other flavors, and with more cooked than raw. Raw does elevate Vata, full stop. Neither smoothies nor juicing is recommended for Vata dosha, on a regular basis. Vata-Pitta can experiment more than Vata-Kapha, especially in warm weather.
Are Vegetables or Vegetable Fiber Grounding?
While finely blending raw vegetables would, theoretically, be better than eating them whole or chopped, the reality is that,
non-starchy vegetables are not at all grounding; they are is cleansing.
Cruciferous, green vegetables are nutrifying, they build Ojas when well digested, but the reality is that vegetables contains lots of cellulose, and, even cooked, let alone raw, can be aggravating to Vata. So the way to make them digestible for Vata is by cooking them with spices and fats, to warm them and make them more grounding. Humans are not goats. So we lack the four stomachs useful for breaking down cellulose.
In fact Vata dosha is the dosha that has the most restrictions on eating vegetables. Kapha has almost none, and Pitta only has to avoid the few spicy hot ones like mustard greens.
As to juicing, read what I have to say at the bottom of this, but also you can get juicers that retain more of the fiber in the beverage.
How Can You Tell A Food is Elevating Vata?
If you eat raw cabbage and you get gas or bloating, you have just elevated Vata. If you eat frozen yogurt and feel cold, you have just elevated Vata. Anything that makes you feel cold, gassy, bloated, anxious, sped up, or nervous has elevated your Vata, whether its a food or an experience. Noisy restaurants, rushing about like a chicken without a head, pop music, and lots of things in modern urban living elevate Vata. Usually foods that aggravate Vata make you bloated, gassy, or cold. But they may also make you nervous and sped up, like sugar or caffeine.
Primary versus Secondary Dosha: How the Secondary Dosha Influences Diet Choices
Depending on your secondary dosha, raw food and smoothies could be an even worse idea, or more tolerable
If you are very cold Vata-Kapha, with a dry and cold intestine, raw food or smooties are a bad idea, period. Examples would be someone who is thin and cold all the time, someone who is overweight, and has cold hands and feet, someone with dry hard stools and dry skin and hair. The key here is especially that you feel cold easily, frequently, or like to dress warmer than average or, for example crave hot beverages, or like sleeping with a comforter even in warm weather, or that you have a thick greasy white coating on your tongue, or that your tongue is a bit swollen or enlarged relative to your mouth. Another very key symptom here is frequent bloating, or nausea, or gas. If you have bloating it means you have cold air where there should be fire. If you have nausea, as with pregnancy, it means you have water where there should be fire. The normal state of the gut is one of fire–the guts job is the process of firey transformation of crude nutrients into micronutrients. This is a job that requires healthy levels of hydrochloric acid, bile, and digestive enzymes, all firey liquids that do just what fire does in nature–break down and transform. In Ayurveda this function is called Agni. And its everywhere, not just in the gut. Mental Agni is how you transform experience into satisfaction and wisdom. Cellular transformations are a kind of Agni. There is agni in the Lungs that brings gas from the atmosphere into the bloodstream.
Vata and Kapha Have Weak Agni by Nature
Vata and Kapha dosha can have naturally weaker Agni in their gut so they need to add fire, not cold. And smoothies are cold, full stop. And smoothies can be dry when they have raw veggies in them. A much better choice for Vata-Kapha is to juice veggies with a small amount of ginger and some sweet veggie like carrot or some pear for Vata, or adding spices like black pepper or some hot sauce if you are Kapha predominant–large boned, clear smooth skin, gain weight easily, large mounds of flesh, and no heat type gut issues.
Vata Gut vs. Kapha Gut
Vata’s gut is dry and full of air, while Kapha’s gut is slow and wet, tending to either mud or unworked clay. We work clay and make it malleable with movement which creates heat. For Kapha’s this means exercise. We get rid of the air in Vata by adding moisture. Air is naturally dry, so this adding of moist unctuous food, like vegetables cooked in a sauce, to the gut of Vata, pacifies the windy Vata dosha that dries the body. Vatas can also have a utilitarian or arid, unemotional approach to food. What a Vata needs is beautiful food that smells and looks beautiful, something to inspire their Agni digestive fire.
But if you are a Vatta-Pitta, you could have a generally cold weaker body like a Vata type, but still have been gifted with with a firey gut and strong digestion. This type, while easily cold, has a voracious appetite, and can tolerate a little more raw food, especially in hot weather, but dislikes spicy hot foods with chile/chilli pepper in them. For sure this type can tolerate smoothies a bit in hot weather, if they are made in a way that respects Vata dosha–less cold, more spice; see below.
So it always depends on your very individual make-up. The question is, are you cold, do you crave warmth, do you suffer from bloating, gas and constipation, and how do you feel when eating more raw, better or worse? The proof is in the pudding, no pun intended. How is your digestion and bowel movements with the raw pureed veggies or fruits?
Part Two: How to Make Smoothies for Vata Dosha in Summer
copyright eyton j. shalom, december 2016, all rights reserved, use with permission.