Fertility

Kapha, pitta or vata? Know your dosha, and these pointers for ayurvedic fertility nutrition

Jessie Day and Mani Maran at Thrive Journey  |   6 May 2024


Continuing our series in partnership with go-to Ayurvedic fertility specialists Thrive Journey, today we’re unpacking dosha types, Ayurveda and fertility nutrition choices.

As we’ve covered, it’s a mistake to rely on a five-question online quiz to work out – and live by – your dosha type.

For example, I’m pretty certain my Kapha dominates. And because of this, my cooking will feature an extra garlic clove or two, going forward (keep reading for why). But, elements of pitta and vata are very much ‘me’ – they just manifest differently.

Keen to get started? First things first, start with an authoritative dosha analysis, in a one-on-one online consultation with Mani Maran, a Singaporean Vaidyar with over 30 years of experience and Ayurveda specialist at Thrive Journey.

From there, it’s all about your individual profile, and which areas to address – potentially which dosha to work on – to boost your fertility.

Digging into 30 years of experience, Mani has set out a few key pointers to get us started with Ayurveda nutrition for fertility – from essential principles to ovulation and egg health specifics, recipes and more, let’s dive in.

Ayurveda and fertility nutrition – Mani’s expert Q&A

In Ayurveda, the primary focus lies in elevating an individual’s overall health to eliminate the root causes of infertility, rather than just treating your symptoms. This approach paves the path for fertility, but also towards enduring and vibrant well-being.

Getting started – pillars and branches to ground your approach

Ayurveda gives us a multifaceted approach to promote and sustain good health. And it encompasses these key modalities, which I’d like to kick off with – see them as your ‘pillars’ to refer back to, while building your fertility nutrition and lifestyle approach:

  1. Correct lifestyle management: Ayurveda underscores the importance of cultivating a balanced daily routine tailored to your unique constitution and needs. Remember, a harmonious lifestyle is a cornerstone of your vibrant health.
  2. Correct nutrition: Correct eating is regarded as a fundamental pillar of well-being in Ayurveda. Embracing nourishing, seasonally appropriate foods aligned with your dosha helps maintain equilibrium.
  3. Correct exercise: Engaging in the right form – and amount – of physical activity is vital for maintaining vitality and balance. Ayurveda emphasizes exercise tailored to individual doshas.
  4. Correct therapies and treatments: Ayurveda offers a rich repertoire of therapies – including the use of herbs and oils – to address specific health concerns and promote overall wellness.

So these are your pillars. And from here, we look at eight specific branches or ‘wings’, each contributing to holistic health management. Two of these branches are particularly significant in the context of fertility –

  1. Kayachikitsa (internal medicine): This branch of Ayurveda focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of internal diseases, aiming to restore your body’s balance and vitality. It plays a crucial role in addressing underlying factors affecting fertility.
  2. Kaumarbhritya (gynecology, obstetrics, pediatrics, etc.): Kaumarbhritya is dedicated to the well-being of women, covering aspects of gynecology and obstetrics, among others. It provides specialized guidance and care to support fertility and maternal health.

In Ayurveda, the pursuit of health is a holistic journey, addressing not only the symptoms of disease but also any core imbalances within the individual. By harmonizing lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, and therapies, Ayurveda offers a comprehensive approach to enhancing fertility and overall wellness.

ayurveda-food

1. Ayurveda nutrition – what are the essentials?

Ayurveda nutrition revolves around:

  • individualization
  • balance, and
  • the concept that food is both medicine and nourishment

Central to this philosophy are the following principles:

  1. Stabilizing the doshas: Ayurveda identifies three primary life forces or ‘doshas’ – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Nutrition in Ayurveda aims to maintain or restore stability to these doshas. Each individual’s unique constitution, known as your ‘prakriti’, guides dietary choices to keep these doshas in equilibrium.
  2. The six tastes – or ‘rasas’: A balanced meal in Ayurveda should encompass all six tastes – sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent. This ensures a comprehensive nutrient intake and satisfaction of all taste buds.
  3. Seasonal and local eating: Consuming foods that align with the current season and your local environment helps maintain harmony with nature’s cycles.
  4. Fresh and whole foods: Emphasis is placed on fresh, whole, and minimally processed foods, avoiding anything that can hinder digestion or introduce toxins.
  5. Food combining – or ‘virya’: Ayurveda pays attention to the compatibility and potency of food combinations, recognising that certain foods when eaten together can either aid or hinder digestion.
  6. Digestive fire – or ‘agni’: A strong digestive fire is crucial for efficient digestion and nutrient absorption. This principle underscores the importance of not only what we eat but how we digest it.
  7. Proper food quantity and mindful eating: Eating in moderation and being mindful during meals, creating a calm, distraction-free environment, are key to Ayurvedic nutrition.
  8. Hydration: We encourage you to drink room-temperature or warm water throughout the day – as regularly as possible – to aid digestion and overall health.
  9. Cleansing and detoxification: Periodic detoxification through diet or other Ayurvedic practices helps in removing toxins from the body.
  10. Food as medicine: Ayurveda views specific foods and herbs as medicinal agents. This approach uses the innate qualities of food to address health concerns.
  11. Dravya guna (and the role of herbs): In Ayurveda, herbs and food are seen through the same lens – all forms of ‘matter’, including food and herbs, contain the five great elements (wind, ether (or space), fire, water and earth).
  12. Eating according to your individual needs: We consume food primarily for nourishment. There’s currently a big trend towards ‘healthy eating’, but it’s crucial to understand that the ‘healthiness’ of food is subjective, and looks very different for every individual.

This is where knowing your ‘vikriti’ (current state of health) and ‘prakriti’ (inherent constitution) becomes vital.

For example, let’s look at garlic. Widely valued for numerous medicinal properties, garlic is particularly beneficial for those with a predominant Kapha dosha and, to a lesser extent, Vata dosha. However, for individuals with a dominant Pitta dosha, garlic’s intense ‘fiery’ nature can be detrimental.

This example underscores the importance of selective and conscious food choices, tailored to your unique constitutional needs. And, the choice of food should be influenced by factors such as:

  • time of day
  • current season
  • cultural practices (e.g. Western cuisine or Chinese or Indian, etc)

All of these play a significant role in aligning diet with your personal health and well-being.

what-food-is-good-for-fertility-in-ayurveda

2. Wow. So what’s the fertility connection?

In Ayurveda, addressing fertility issues begins with a thorough understanding of your constitution – so read above for my notes on vikriti and prakriti, or book an online one-to-one with me in practice with Thrive Journey, to understand exactly where you’re at.

This foundational knowledge is the starting point for any corrective and restorative processes.

The key to improving reproductive health and fostering natural healing lies in reducing and pacifying any aggravated doshas.

Each of the three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha – can contribute to fertility issues, but Kapha is often more prone to causing such problems. This is due to Kapha’s governance over the endocrine system, which plays a critical role in fertility. Hormonal imbalances that impact fertility are directly linked to the endocrine system’s function.

A significant factor contributing to fertility complications is inadequate nutrition and poor eating habits, which lead to ineffective digestion and metabolism. This inefficiency can result in the formation of a toxic waste known as ‘ama’ – undigested food mass that becomes putrefied due to slow or poor waste elimination.

This toxic accumulation further disturbs the already imbalanced doshas, leading to various symptoms associated with fertility issues, such as cysts, tumors, ovulation issues, and endometriosis.

Ayurveda emphasizes the profound connection between nutrition, dosha stability, and fertility. Stabilizing your doshas not only promotes reproductive health but also helps in regulating your menstrual cycle and enhancing overall fertility.

3. So can Ayurveda help regulate ovulation?

Yes, Ayurveda can correct irregularities in ovulation by first identifying your predominant dosha, which may be in excess. Doshas are fundamental to maintaining a balanced and healthy life, as they govern all physiological and psychological functions. The key to health and vitality lies in understanding and managing these Doshas.

Detecting any imbalance as early as we can is crucial, because it provides a better chance of correcting ovulation issues. And, it addresses other potential health problems, whether they’ve started to manifest or not.

Irregular or disturbed ovulation is often a symptom of an aggravated dosha. The regulation of ovulation, and overall reproductive health, depends on the proper functioning and interrelationship of the three Doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Understanding one’s prakriti, or natural constitution, is essential in appreciating and addressing the unique nature of each individual.

Ayurvedic treatment focuses on realigning the body and mind, helping them return to their natural constitutional state. We use tailored approaches to achieve this, including dietary changes, lifestyle modifications, and Ayurvedic detoxification processes, to return you to your natural prakriti.

In Ayurveda, we emphasize the importance of individual-specific treatments. What suits one person may not be appropriate for another, especially when it comes to hormonal balance and reproductive health. So, regulating ovulation in Ayurveda involves a combination of diet and lifestyle choices tailored to your specific dosha. This includes using nutrition, herbs, and stress management techniques to balance hormones, and promote regular and healthy ovulation.

4. And what about egg health itself?

Ayurveda places great importance on egg health. The quality of the egg is closely related to the health of the reproductive tissues, or ‘shukra dhatu’.

I’ve put together a quick explainer of Ayurveda’s perspective on egg health to dip into, but if egg health is a concern for you, I can work this through with you one-to-one:

The role of shukra dhatu: In Ayurveda, shukra dhatu is one of the seven primary tissues that make up the body. It encompasses both male and female reproductive tissues, including sperm and eggs. Shukra dhatu is responsible for fertility, the menstrual cycle, and the overall health of your reproductive system.

Factors affecting egg health: The quality of shukra dhatu – including your eggs – is influenced by various factors, including diet, lifestyle, emotional well-being, and dosha balance. When these factors are in harmony, we clear the pathway to healthy shukra dhatu, and optimal egg health.

ayurvedic-diet-plan

5. What should we know about building Ojas?

Ojas, a fundamental concept in Ayurveda, represents the vital essence crucial for the proper functioning of both your body and mind.

It is the refined form of Prana, the life force, that becomes available when all bodily tissues are stable, supporting correct digestion and metabolism. This process allows Prana to be transformed into Ojas, enhancing our immune system and boosting reproductive capacity.

Understanding Ojas involves recognising its role as the subtlest and most refined energy in the body, the essence of all bodily tissues, including reproductive tissues. It’s responsible for nourishing and maintaining overall health and vitality, contributing to strength, resilience, and a robust immune system. Tellingly, it’s this essence that gives a healthy glow to the skin and a sense of well-being.

In terms of fertility, Ojas is paramount. Healthy Ojas is essential for the efficient functioning of reproductive organs, regulation of menstrual cycles, and production of healthy gametes (sperm and eggs). It provides the necessary vigor for successful conception and is a key factor in reproductive health.

To cultivate and maintain healthy Ojas, Ayurveda emphasizes the importance of living a balanced life. This includes managing daily and seasonal activities with the right attitude, being responsible for our own health and well-being, and continually managing our prakriti (inherent constitution). Practicing mindfulness in every action we take is considered a form of intense meditation and ‘awareness,’ crucial for maintaining the stability and quality of Ojas.

By fostering healthy Ojas through correct lifestyle choices, mindful living, and proper nourishment, we support our body’s natural ability to function optimally, bolster our immunity, and enhance our reproductive health.

6. And eating for my dosha?

At Thrive Journey, we offer an extensive list of foods that are suitable for each of the three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, as part of your membership.

Ayurvedic nutrition is deeply rooted in understanding your constitution or dosha. Once we accurately diagnose these pillars, we can get clear on which foods are beneficial, and which to avoid.

And, adhering strictly to the recommended foods for your specific dosha is crucial.

Timing your meals intuitively is also very important. Hunger, rather than the conventional meal times dictated by the clock, should guide when we eat. This approach ensures that food is consumed when the body is ready to digest it, reducing the likelihood of toxin accumulation. Eating smaller amounts more frequently can help digestion and minimize the toxin build-up.

Specifically focusing on fertility nutrition, we use Ayurveda nutrition to tailor your diet, according to your individual dosha:

  • Vata fertility nutrition: Individuals with a predominant Vata dosha benefit from warm, grounding foods such as cooked grains, root vegetables, and warming spices. These foods help balance the Vata constitution, promoting fertility.
  • Pitta fertility nutrition: For those with a Pitta constitution, cooling and soothing food choices like cucumbers, coconut, and mint are recommended. These foods help in balancing the fiery nature of Pitta, aiding in reproductive health.
  • Kapha fertility nutrition: People with a Kapha dosha require light, energizing foods such as ginger, garlic, and leafy greens. These foods help in counteracting the heaviness of Kapha, supporting fertility.

Each of these dietary recommendations is a starting point and should be tailored to your specific needs, and any health conditions. By aligning diet with dosha, Ayurvedic nutrition not only supports overall health but also specifically enhances fertility, addressing your unique needs as an individual.

7. My go-to fertility Ayurveda recipes

So many people – patients and otherwise – ask about recipes, so I’ve compiled them all together here in my much-loved Ayurvedic Cookbook.

For just $15 it’s a complete treasure trove (I’m told!), and features my favorite and most-shared recipe for kicheree, a delicious one-pot southeast Asian dish, which uses grains and spices to pull toxins from the body, and heal the digestive tract.

And finally, my top tips for your dosha, fertility and nutrition plan

  • Vata – maintain a regular routine, stay warm, and practice mindfulness to calm your Vata.
  • Pitta – stay cool, manage stress, and avoid spicy foods to keep Pitta balanced.
  • Kapha – keep active, embrace warmth, and include pungent flavors to energize Kapha.

For all things holistic support when trying to conceive (TTC), Thrive Journey is our absolute go-to. Their online Fertility Wellness program brings qigong yoga, Ayurvedic nutrition and support, and relaxation techniques together with a clinically tested approach to preconception planning.

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