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Special Diets for Illness

In 1978 I helped Dr. Mana to edit a book he wrote called The Eastern Theory of Diet (Bajrcharya, 1978). In this book, Dr. Mana shows how diets can be developed based upon body type, seasonal fluctuations of weather and the taste qualities of different types of foods using the energetic concepts of Vata, Pitta and Kapha. The important thing I saw was his ability to offer dietary advice in complete harmony with his understanding of the disease process. Ayurvedic doctors in the past took the time to classify all common foods and spices via the TAM system of energetics.  Therefore, if a person has a Pitta (inflammatory) disease, and was being given herbs to reduce Pitta, it only made sense to prescribe a diet containing foodstuffs that also reduced Pitta.

Following his lead, I developed a list of six diets that address the most common energetic imbalances seen in the clinic. It is based upon the common TCM and TAM diagnostic concepts of heat, cold, dampness, dryness and wind. If you figure out the major causative factor(s) in an illness, you can easily prescribe a diet that will help overcome the problem. A simple example--if you have stomach inflammation, you would not eat a chili pepper, and if your digestion is weak and sluggish, you would not want to eat a heavy steak. These energetic suggestions cannot be counteracted by saying, for example, "Steak contains iron, and when you are weak you need iron." That is, the energetics of the food can sometimes take precedence over individual nutrient considerations. If a person has sluggish digestion and needs iron, they should get it from an easy to digest source.

To keep it simple, I have left out cold and dry as separate entities.  If there is heat, it drives out cold. If there is dampness, there is no dryness. Also, I use these as a starting point, and modify them according to individual needs.

Remember, these diets are used during herbal treatments, and are not intended to be used all the time. Moreover, a common misunderstanding is that they are based upon the energetics of the foods, not their specific nutrients. Therefore, for example, tomatoes should be avoided due to their sour quality when there is an acidic condition in the digestive tract, in spice of the fact that the lycopene found in tomatoes has health benefits.

Of course, having a list of foods is not enough. Here is an interesting website with many  delicous Ayurvedic recipees.  http://www.joyfulbelly.com/.


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Diet To Reduce Wind (Vata)
Strengthens the Nervous System

I use this diet when a patient experiences any or all of these symptoms: weak digestion, nervousness, fatigue, spasms, dryness, neurasthenia, nerve pain, weight loss, numbness and tingling.

Favor

General: Foods that are both highly nutritive and easy to digest are key to healing  nervous system problems. Favor soups, warm foods and drinks. Drink spring water, especially with meals. All foods should be fresh, and organic if possible. Try to maintain regular meal times & adequate sleep.

Grains: Corn, oatmeal, rice, wheat (unless allergic).  Prepare warm cereals or well-cooked whole grains with spices.

Dairy:  All dairy products, organic if possible, unless you are allergic or intolerant. If so, use soy or rice milk and other natural substitutes.

Sweeteners: Maple syrup, molasses, Sucanat (natural cane sugar).

Oils: Borage, canola, evening primrose, fish, flax, olive, sunflower.  Use healthy quantities unless you have weight problems.

Fruits: Sweet fruits, including berries, grapes, cherries, melon, avocado, coconut, sweet plum, mango, pear, banana, fresh fig. Use freely, including juices.

Vegetables: Well-cooked vegetables, especially asparagus, carrots, celery, cucumber, green beans, green peas, lettuce, okra, potato, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato.  Eat freely, especially cooked with spices. Vegetable juices.

Spices: Cardamom, mints, coriander, chamomile, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, ginger (root or tea), mustard, bay leaf, black pepper, salt.

Proteins: Chicken, eggs, duck, fresh seafood, nuts (except peanuts), turkey, pork.

AVOID

General: Avoid dieting and fasting. Avoid stale foods, ice-cold drinks, canned or prepared foods, chemical additives, processed meats, hydrogenated oils and fats, excess alcohol, candy, cake, sugary sweets.

Sweeteners: Nutrasweet (and other chemical sugar replacers), processed or refined sugars.

Oils & fats: Corn oil, peanut oil, sesame oil.  Low-quality, heavy or hard to digest oils weaken the nervous system.

Grains: Millet (drying)

Vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, turnip, zucchini, raw vegetables (except lettuce and carrots) if hard to digest. All these vegetables should not be eliminated, but just limited, taken in small quantities and cooked well to avoid indigestion.

Spices: Excess amounts of cayenne pepper, chili, cloves, fenugreek, mustard or hot spices.

Proteins: Beans except lentils (unless taken with spices or “beano”), peanuts.

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Diet To Reduce Heat (Pitta)
Helps Reduce General Inflammation

I use this diet when a patient experiences any or all of these symptoms: inflammation, heat signs, burning pain, acidity, hot flashes, painful joints, skin itching, anger and irritability, tissue destruction, infection, fever.

FAVOR

General: Two keys to reducing inflammation are increasing intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, and avoiding unhealthy fats and oils. All foods should be fresh and organic if possible, and not overly hot in temperature. Drink spring water, at least 6 glasses per day, especially with meals.  Stick to regular meal times, and avoid snacking.

Grains: Barley, oats, rice, unless allergic. Inflammation caused by grain allergies, especially wheat, is a common problem.

Dairy: Butter, ghee, milk (unless allergic), all in moderate quantities, and organic if possible. If allergic, use soy or rice milk and other natural substitutes.

Sweeteners: Maple syrup, Sucanat (natural cane sugar).

Oils: Borage, canola, evening primrose, fish, flax, olive, sunflower. Use small or moderate quantities.

Fruits: Sweet fruits including avocado, banana, berries, cherries, coconut, grapes, mango, melon, pear, sweet plum, watermelon.

Vegetables: Asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, cucumber, green beans, green peas, lettuce, okra, potato, pumpkin, squash, zucchini. Eat large quantities of these vegetables (warm, not hot), preferably boiled. Vegetable  juices.

Spices: Cardamom, coriander, dill, fennel, fenugreek, ginger, bay leaf, turmeric. Turmeric is strongly anti-inflammatory and may be supplemented at 1/2 teaspoon 2-3 times per day.

Proteins: Beans, chicken, eggs, fresh seafood, turkey.  Eat moderate amounts, except beans, which can be eaten freely.

AVOID

General: Avoid spicy, hot, sour, salty, greasy, stale, canned or prepared foods, hot drinks, chemical additives, hydrogenated oils and fats, alcohol, vinegar, candy, cake, sugary sweets, pickles.

Dairy: Buttermilk, sour cream.

Sweeteners: Molasses.

Oils: Corn, Crisco, peanut, sesame. Low-quality oils are very inflammatory.

Grains:  Corn, millet, rye, wheat.

Fruits: Sour fruits.

Vegetables: Hot peppers, nightshade family vegetables if sensitive to them (bell peppers, eggplant, tomato).

Spices: Cayenne pepper, chili, cloves, cumin, fenugreek, hot spices, mustard, salt.

Proteins: Beef and other red meats, peanuts.

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Diet To Reduce Dampness and Mucus (Kapha)
Removes Fluids, Mucus and Sticky Accumulations

I use this diet when a patient experiences any or all of these symptoms: heaviness, dampness, excess mucus, fluid accumulation, elevated blood fats, nausea.

FAVOR

General:  Light, dry foods work best for reducing dampness and mucus.  Favor pungent (spicy), bitter, astringent and warm/hot foods and drinks. Drink plenty of spring water, especially at meals. All foods should be fresh, and organic if possible.

Grains: Barley, wheat, corn, millet, oats (unless allergic).

Dairy:  Small amounts of lowfat milk occasionally (unless allergic), goat's milk.

Sweeteners: Honey, due to drying quality.

Oils: Light oils, such as canola, in food preparation. Use very small quantities. Alternatively, use borage, evening primrose, or flax as supplements.

Fruits: Apple, cranberry, guava, pear, persimmon, pomegranate. Eat fruit slightly unripe.

Vegetables: Asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, eggplant, garlic, green leafy vegetables, onion, potato, pumpkin, radish, sprouts.

Spices: All spices can be eaten freely except salt, which should be avoided.

Proteins: Beans, chicken, fresh seafood (less oily varieties), turkey.  Beans can be eaten freely.

AVOID

General: Do not overeat. Reduce cold foods and drinks, oily or greasy foods, and foods that are excessively sweet, sour or salty. Reduce or eliminate milk products.

Dairy: All milk products, except small amounts of lowfat milk occasionally.

Sweeteners: All sweeteners except honey.

Oils: Oils should be limited, except small quantities of light oils or supplements.

Grains: Excesses of oats, rice and wheat.

Fruits: Avocado, banana, coconut, dates, figs, and sweet fruits.

Vegetables: Cucumber, okra, sweet potato, tomato, zucchini.

Spices: Salt.

Proteins: Nuts, pork, red meat.

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Diet To Reduce Wind & Dampness
Strengthens Nervous System & Reduces Accumulations

FAVOR

General: Foods that are both highly nutritive and easy to digest are key to healing the nervous system, while avoiding heavy oily and greasy foods to reduce accumulations. Favor soups, warm foods and drinks. Drink spring water, especially with meals. All foods should be fresh, and organic if possible. Try to maintain regular meal times & adequate sleep.

Grains: Barley, corn, oatmeal, rice, or wheat (unless allergic). Prepare warm cereals or well-cooked whole grains with spices.  Barley is the best grain to use.

Dairy: Use soy and rice milk, and cheeses as substitutes for dairy.

Sweeteners: Honey, molasses, Sucanat (natural cane sugar).

Oils: Moderate use of only high quality oils & fats is key to reducing dampness & mucous in the body while maintaining adequate EFA's. Borage, canola, evening primrose, fish, flax, olive and sunflower are best. Use small quantities if you have weight problems. Fish oil supplements may be the best choice here.

Fruits: Avocado, banana, berries, cherries, coconut, dark-colored fruits, fresh figs, grapes, mango, melon, pear, sweet plums. Eat freely.

Vegetables: Well-cooked vegetables, including asparagus, beans, broccoli, carrot, celery, cucumber, green beans, green peas, lettuce, onion, potato, pumpkin, squash. Eat vegetables freely, especially cooked with spices.

Spices: Cardamom, chamomile, cinnamon, cumin, fennel, ginger (root or tea), mustard, pepper, salt.

Proteins: Chicken, eggs, fresh seafood, nuts (except peanuts), pork, turkey. Use moderate amounts, and cook with, garlic, ginger or onion.

AVOID

General: Avoid dieting and fasting.  Avoid stale foods, ice-cold drinks, canned or prepared foods, chemical additives, hydrogenated oils and fats, excess alcohol, candy, cakes, sugary sweets.

Sweeteners: Nutrasweet and other chemical or processed sugar substitutes.

Oils: Corn, Crisco, peanut, sesame.  Low-quality oils contribute to accumulations.

Grains & Vegetables: None necessary to avoid.

Spices: Excess amounts of cayenne pepper, chili, cloves, hot spices, salt.

Proteins: Fatty meats (use lean cuts), peanuts.

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Diet To Reduce Wind & Heat
Strengthens the Nerves and Reduces Inflammation

FAVOR

General: Foods that are both highly nutritive and easy to digest are key to healing the nervous system, while good quality oils and adequate fruits and vegetables help fight inflammation.  Drink spring water, especially with meals. All foods should be fresh, and organic if possible. Try to maintain regular meal times & adequate sleep, and avoid snacking.

Grains: Corn, rice, wheat (unless your are allergic). Favor well-cooked whole grains.

Dairy:  All dairy products (unless allergic), especially ghee, organic if possible.

Sweeteners: Maple syrup, molasses, Sucanat (natural cane sugar). Use sparingly.

Oils: Use of only high quality oils & fats to reduce inflammation. Use borage, canola, evening primrose, fish, flax, olive, sunflower in healthy quantities, unless you have weight problems.

Fruits: Adequate intake of fruit is necessary to reduce inflammation.  Use sweet fruits, including avocado, banana, berries, cherries, coconut, fresh figs, grapes, mango, melon, pear, sweet plums, watermelon etc.. Eat freely.

Vegetables: Adequate intake of vegetables is necessary to reduce inflammation. Favor well-cooked vegetables, including asparagus, beans, broccoli, carrots, celery, cucumber, green beans, green peas, lettuce, okra, artichoke, potato, pumpkin, squash, sweet potato, zucchini.  Eat freely.

Spices: Cardamom, chamomile cumin, dill, fennel, ginger (root or tea), salt.  Turmeric is also strongly anti-inflammatory and may be supplemented at 1/2 teaspoon 2-3 times per day.

Proteins: Chicken, eggs, fresh seafood, nuts (except peanuts), turkey.

AVOID

General: Avoid stale, canned or prepared foods, chemical additives, hydrogenated oils and fats, excess alcohol, candy, cakes, sugary sweets.

Sweeteners: Nutrasweet and other chemical or processed sugar substitutes.

Oils: Corn, Crisco, peanut.  Low-quality oils are very inflammatory.

Grains & Vegetables: Reduce raw vegetables (except lettuce and carrots) if hard to digest.

Spices: Excess amounts of cayenne pepper, chili, cloves, fenugreek, hot spices, mustard, salt.

Proteins: Beans except lentils (unless taken with spices or “beano”), peanuts.

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Diet To Reduce Heat & Dampness  
Diet For Reducing Inflammation, Fluid and Mucus

FAVOR

General: Foods should be very fresh, and organic if possible. Favor light and easy to digest foods such as soups, and increase fruits and vegetables. Do not overeat. Reduce oily or greasy foods, sour foods, salt, and hot spices. Avoid prepared foods.  Drink spring water, up to 6 cups per day, especially at meals. Also drink teas. Use foods at moderate temperature, not too hot or cold.

Grains: Use whole grains such as barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, rice, rye (unless allergic). Use breads in moderation.

Dairy: Use soy and rice products as substitutes for milk. Use Spectrum Naturals canola spread as a substitute for butter.  Ghee may be used.

Sweeteners: Honey, stevia, Sucanat (natural cane sugar).

Oils: Use only small amounts of cold-pressed canola and olive. Alternatively, use borage, evening primrose, or flax as supplements. Low-quality oils increase inflammation and mucus.

Fruits: Insufficient intake of fruits increases inflammation. Eat several servings of fresh fruit each day, especially those with dark colors, such as blueberries, grapes and strawberries and watermelon.

Vegetables: Insufficient intake of  vegetables increases inflammation.  Eat large quantities, preferably cooked or boiled.  Use asparagus, beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, cucumber, dandelion tea, green leafy vegetables, green tea, lettuce, okra onion (cooked), parsley potato, pumpkin, radish, sprouts, zucchini, and every other vegetable you can think of, except nightshade family vegetables (bell peppers, eggplant, tomato).

Spices: Basil, dill, garlic, oregano, turmeric.

Proteins: Beans, chicken, eggs, fresh seafood, nuts (except peanuts), seeds, turkey.  Beans can be eaten freely.
 
AVOID

Grains: Avoid processed or prepared grain and starch products such as snack crackers, unless manufactured by a natural foods company.

Dairy: Avoid all dairy products except ghee.

Sweeteners: Avoids concentrated sweets. Also avoid chemical sugar substitutes.

Oils: Avoid excess intake of oils, especially corn, Crisco, peanut.  Low-quality oils increase inflammation and mucous.

Fruits: Reduce intake of light-colored fruits in favor of darker fruits listed above.

Vegetables: Avoid nightshade vegetables, including bell peppers, eggplant, tomato.

Spices: Avoid chilis.

Proteins: Peanuts, red meats.

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Posted on Sunday, April 3, 2005 at 10:14AM by Registered Commenterposted by Dr. Tillotson in | Comments Off

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