Dr. Alejandro Junger: What is the Ayurvedic Diet, and Wait, What’s This About Eating for my Dosha?

February 17, 2020 By Alexia Dellner

You’ve probably come across the word Ayurveda recently (your bestie swears by her Ayurvedic morning routine, and your yoga teacher told you that she only eats according to her dosha). But what exactly is it…and is it just a fad? Before you dismiss the Ayurvedic diet as another version of the clean eating trend, you should know that this Indian philosophy has actually been around for thousands of years.

This ancient philosophy of holistic healing is based on the belief that health depends on a balance of mind, body and spirit. This delicate equilibrium is achieved by following the guidelines and ideas written down in 5,000-year-old Vedic texts. “Ayurvedic principles remind us that we are self-healing creatures and that we can maintain—or regain—good health by choosing healing foods, a balanced lifestyle and inner calm,” writes Vedic scholar Acharya Shunya in Ayurveda Lifestyle Wisdom.

Eating healthy, wholesome foods is one of the main pillars of Ayurveda. Another important aspect of this intricate wellness system? Being in tune with your dosha. (More on that below.)

PROS AND CONS OF THE AYURVEDIC DIET

Alejandro Junger, M.D., internist and founder of wellness company Clean, is a big proponent of the Ayurvedic diet. “I have witnessed the benefits and I think it is not a risky thing to try when looking for solutions, especially when other methods have not worked,” he tells us. “Whether it’s sugar balance, hormonal balance, weight loss, immune strengthening or improving digestion, Ayurvedic intervention through dosha dietary guidelines reaches every cell in the body.”

There’s a lot to like about the Ayurvedic diet. It focuses on nutrient-rich whole foods, which experts agree is beneficial to your health. It also minimizes processed foods, which are typically lacking in fiber and nutrients. Finally, the Ayurvedic diet encourages mindful eating (so no more scarfing down an energy bar for lunch). And while research is limited, one small study from the University of Arizona found that participants who followed an Ayurveda-based program (which included dietary changes and yoga classes) experienced an average weight loss of 13 pounds over nine months.

As for potential drawbacks? The diet can be confusing to follow. The lists of foods to eat and to avoid are quite extensive, and not everyone can adhere to the diet’s suggestions for when to eat and how much. It can also be difficult to accurately determine your dosha, so you run the risk of not following the diet correctly.

If you are suffering from a particular health issue, the diet shouldn’t replace advice from a medical professional. Per Dr. Junger, “I believe that no treatment or approach is good for everything.” But, he tells us, there’s certainly no harm in trying it.

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