What Is An Ayurvedic Diet And How It Helps In Hair Loss?
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit word which means knowledge or science of life. It is a holistic approach to a healthy lifestyle of mind and body. It is a natural system of nutrition and medicine that has been followed in India for more than 5000 years. It was developed as a means to prevent illness and imbalance in the human mind and body. To understand what an ayurvedic diet is, we must understand that it is more of a lifestyle intervention than a diet.
It is understood that there is a definite association between the mind, body and the environment around. Ayurveda facilitates a healthy relationship between the trio to benefit the individual with the help of its natural remedies.
In Ayurveda the concept of diet is very different. The focus is on the proper digestion of food as it assists in the process of metabolism to enhance body energy. It lays emphasis on digestion, absorption and assimilation of food. It guides you on how to develop good habits and eat as per the need of the body and avoid pre-cooked and processed foods. It is about eating fresh, raw whole fruits and vegetables or freshly cooked meals.
The Ayurvedic diet has been carefully designed on the fundamentals of ancient Ayurvedic medicines which date back to thousands of years. This diet needs to be maintained by either consuming or abstaining from food that could be harmful with reference to your dosha or the type of body you have.
Every individual has a dosha or a primary element that exists in the body. To start on a proper Ayurvedic diet with dosha foods one has to identify one’s dosha. Ayurveda holds that the universe is made of 5 elements: water, air, space, earth and fire. These elements form three different doshas. The 3 doshas are Vata, Kapha and Pitta. So, it is important to find out which dosha is more prominent in an individual to get the best results as each dosha is responsible for specific physiological functions within the body. For example, hunger, thirst, and body temperature are controlled by pitta dosha. The vata dosha takes care of the electrolyte levels and mental & sensory balance, while the kapha dosha maintains body resistance.
An Ayurvedic diet is planned based on the predominant dosha and foods are carefully selected to maintain the required balance of the doshas.
The Ayurvedic diet has clear guidelines with regard to what food to be consumed at what time. Fruits are to be eaten in the morning and preferably not with any other food. At night, protein rich foods should be consumed like grilled chicken, pulses, lentils, green leafy vegetables. Consume low-carb foods at night, cut salt intake post 7 pm, avoid eating curd at night.
The ayurvedic diet holds that you should eat foods according to your dosha as it leads to inner harmony.
If the pitta dosha is prominent in your body you need to include body cooling and energy giving foods and limit the intake of seeds, nuts and spices.
An excess of the vata dosha on the other hand would entail a reduced intake of dried fruits, raw vegetables and bitter herbs while at the same time opting for moist, warm and grounding foods.
If you have an overload of kapha dosha in your body you have to cut down on seeds, nuts and oils and consume a lot of veggies, fruits and legumes.
However processed foodstuffs, red meat and artificial sweeteners are prohibited for all the doshas and healthy whole foods like grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits are recommended in its place . The foods have many beneficial ingredients which provide a lot of nutrition to the body but the diet also at the same time prevents the consumption of processed foods which do not have good fibre, mineral and vitamin content.
Though what you consume is an important part of the ayurvedic diet and helps protect against disease and promotes overall health it is also very important to be mindful of what you eat. This is a process of becoming very conscious and direct your entire energies to focusing on the present. Mindful eating is about blocking out all extraneous factors while you are having your meal as you turn your attention to the taste and flavour of your food.
Ayurveda also recommends different types of foods for every season and a specific plan for the entire year with a mention on the amount to be consumed.
How Can it Help Manage Hair Loss?
According to Ayurveda, hair fall is related to aggravation of pitta. To balance Pitta, we need to take food that is less spicy, has a calming effect on the body and timely meals on a regular basis. Ayurvedic food offers plenty of remedies and lifestyle changes that can help manage hair loss. It aims to cure any ailment from its roots. Ayurvedic treatments are designed to heal from within. It balances the doshas which are believed to be responsible for everything about us, from the colour of our hair to the type of body and also the kinds of illnesses we are vulnerable to. Generally, most individuals have one or possibly two predominant doshas.
Vata is responsible for the nervous system, pitta impacts the metabolism, kapha helps lubricate the joints, facilitates the protection of body tissues and builds immunity. Imbalance of these doshas can disturb a healthy body and lead to different types of ailments. Hair fall is attributed to the aggravation of pitta dosha.
There can be different reasons leading to hair fall. It might be due to weight loss because of crash diets, low iron levels, irregular diet, stress, thyroid and hormonal imbalances, etc. The whole body needs to be functioning normally to control hair fall. According to Ayurveda the whole body needs to be cleansed first from within; Remove the toxins and bring a balance to the doshas with an ayurvedic diet by including dosha foods for hair fall. By curing the root cause, it cures the hair fall problem.
It not only prescribes oral and topical herbal medicines but also prescribes a lifestyle change with regard to diet and other daily habits. Ayurvedic regimens such as Ritucharya and Dinacharya can bring about a number of long-term health benefits. These concepts are about making alterations to your lifestyle in tune with the different seasons. Dinacharya means daily activities that take place around two cycles of change in a day like early rising from bed, hygiene, exercise, meals, relaxation, sleeping, etc. Ritucharya means changing of activities as per changing season. Apart from other health benefits, this lifestyle regimen ensures healthy hair and skin.
To look for any remedy for hair health, it is necessary to be aware of your dosha. The texture and quality of hair changes with the imbalance of dosha. For e.g., If normally you have vata dosha then your strands will be prone to dryness and be brittle. But when there is an issue with your Vata dosha, then your hair could become extremely dry, be subject to frizziness and become brittle. With imbalance in Pitta dosha, you are likely to experience hair thinning and a receding hairline. It may even lead to hair colour changes and balding. Normal pitta hair is slightly thin and could be brownish. With an imbalance in Kapha dosha, you could have very oily and greasy hair. This leads to hair fall as the oil tends to clog the hair follicles. Normal kapha hair is thick.
Top Foods for Hair Fall According to Ayurveda
In Ayurveda different foods have been grouped into various categories depending on their different uses. Let’s find out more about the ayurvedic diet for hair fall. In the Hair Growth Group comes Coconut, Sesame and triphala.
Bhringraj, Keshraj, Vibhitaka, Mango seed, Triphala, Indigo, Mehendi and Japa (shoe flower) are considered as Natural Colour Preservers
- Mung bean: It is said that regular consumption of Mung Bean (green gram) has many health benefits including hair growth. It is rich in proteins that are conveniently assimilated into the system. Green gram removes bad cholesterol, thus helping in hair growth as bad cholesterol in follicles affects hair growth. It is rich in antioxidants, and helps stop hair deterioration with age.
- Amla: Amla is a superfood. It is loaded with antioxidants. It is good for hair growth and stops premature greying. Amla cures scalp inflammations and dandruff too.
- Cucumber: Cucumber being rich in water content keeps the body hydrated and reduces inflammation if any. The seeds of the cucumber help cool the hair and curb heat-related stress. Cucumber skin being rich in silicon and sulphur, helps promote hair growth.
- Buttermilk: Buttermilk works as a hair elixir. Buttermilk taken during meals helps in absorbing essential nutrients like calcium from the food eaten. This helps in hair growth. Consuming buttermilk post lunch has great health benefits.
- Almonds And Other Nuts: Almonds, peanuts and walnuts have natural oils that help hair grow strong and lustrous. They augment hair growth and volume. Peanuts have the richness of silica and calcium and add to the tensile strength of your hair. It also has good biotin, vitamin E, magnesium and zinc content for good hair growth.
- Sesame Seeds + Cumin Seeds: This is a potent combination guaranteed to improve the condition of your hair substantially. Sesame has good calcium content and cumin seeds facilitate its absorption into the body. This is a very good combination for hair (and bones). Sesame, full with the goodness of calcium and cumin, facilitates its absorption in your body. It helps augment hair growth.
- Ghee: Ghee rich in vitamins A, D and E is very effective to augment hair quality. According to Ayurveda, ghee prepared through the right traditional churning process is very good for your hair, skin and bones and needs to be consumed on a daily basis.
- Coconuts: Coconut is a traditional food item with many known beneficial qualities. In Ayurveda it is categorised as a Keshya which is a group of foods that can help in good hair growth, stop greying and reduce hair issues.
- Triphala: Triphala is very good for hair growth and stops greying of hair.
- Curry Leaves: Curry leaves are full of iron and folic acid. This helps curb hair damage and is good to restrict premature greying.
- Methi Seeds: Methi has phytoestrogens which help create a thick growth of hair without those early premature silver streaks. Its anti-inflammatory properties help prevent hair damage due to stress.
- Pomegranates: Pomegranates have Anthocyanins which have anti-aging qualities and minimise stress on hair and skin among other things. Its cholesterol-reducing properties help curb hair loss and greying that is a result of excess cholesterol.
- Fennel: Fennel is a very potent anti-inflammatory agent and is very good in regulating hormones. This helps prevent hair fall.
Best Ayurvedic Herbs for Hair Fall & Tips to Include Them in Your Diet
Ayurveda utilises a number of herbs to curb hair fall. Though most herbs like reetha, shikakai, methi seeds, bhringaraj etc are applied on the scalp and hair topically there are some that can even be consumed and added to our regular diet. Though herbs and spices are blessed with a number of healthy properties they need to be used appropriately or they could cause harm. Some of the commonly used herbs like turmeric, ginger, cumin, and cinnamon can be added to our regular diet.
Turmeric is helpful in the prevention of gastrointestinal ailments including inflammatory bowel disease. Digestion plays a major role in most kinds of illness, so it is always recommended to keep a check on it. Avoid turmeric if there is an imbalance in your Pitta dosha or you have heart issues. You can add a pinch of turmeric in whatever you are cooking. Apart from Indian curries you can even add a pinch to your rice and scrambled eggs.
Ginger is considered one of the most health-giving spices and has microbial properties apart from being an immune system booster. Cumin also has excellent digestive properties that facilitate better immunity and good hair health.
Cinnamon has been an integral part of Ayurvedic treatment for decades and helps reduce the effect of the vata and kapha doshas. It has a range of benefits including digestive and anti-microbial properties which help in better hair health.
FAQ's1. What should be part of an ayurvedic diet?
Ayurveda recommends the inclusion of 6 tastes which would combine diverse tastes to contribute to an energy and health-giving mix. Use at least a small amount of the following to help develop a healthy body.
- Sweet: strengthens and nourishes
- Sour: Cleanses and purifies
- Salty: balances and regulates
- Bitter: detoxifies and mineralises
- Astringent: anti-inflammatory, acts as a coolant
- Pungent: warms and stimulates
2. How does an Ayurvedic diet add to the health of your hair?
According to Ayurveda, good life force leads to good quality hair and this can be cultivated with the help of a healthy diet. A good diet consisting of fresh food leads to a healthy body and this automatically facilitates good hair growth.
3. Can an ayurvedic diet stop hair loss?
The rasayanas present in ayurvedic herbs are very powerful and have the capacity to balance your doshas, remove the toxins and cure all your hair thinning issues. It follows a certain process of also removing certain harmful foods from your diet to eliminate your problems completely without any side-effects.
The world is moving towards safe naturalised forms of treatment and the growing interest in Ayurveda is a prime example of this trend. An Ayurvedic diet attempts to heal the body from within and a regular and disciplined regime will help you cure your problems significantly. This will also include consuming foods for hair growth. Do visit us at Traya and speak to our experts who will design a diet for you with some potent ayurvedic herbs for hair growth and ensure the end of all your tressy issues.
Dr. Shailendra Chaubey, BAMS
A modern-day Vaidya with 11 years of experience. He is the founder of Dr. Shailendra Healing School that helps patients recover from chronic conditions through the Ayurvedic way of life.