Ayurvedic Mind-Body Types Meet Sports Physiology
As an Ayurvedic and Sports Nutritionist, I believe
that the secret to lasting health is blending ancient
Eastern health wisdom with modern Western
In my Sports Nutrition studies, I learned about the
three body types, endomorph, mesomorph and ectomorph.
Immediately, I noticed a direct relationship between these
body types and those I had studied in my Ayurvedic training
in India: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. These body types are called
Doshas in Ayurveda, the world's oldest health system
originating from India 5000 years ago.
I'll first explain what each mean in a scientific context
then move forward to compare them to the Ayurvedic
mind-body types, giving you both Western and Eastern
perspectives to understanding your unique physiology.
We all have ectodermal, mesodermal and endodermal
tissues… but not in the same amounts. Some of us have
more development in our ectodermal layer, while others in
our mesodermal and others in our endodermal. This will
greatly impact our entire physiology. We will carry fat in
different ways, digest food in different ways, gain muscles
in various amounts, all dependent on the natural tendency
of our body.
Imagine you were born with a deck of cards. This is your
physiology. Are you better able to play cards when you know
your deck or are playing completely blind-handed? Surely
you can get by, eating the way you are told or according to
what others around you are eating, but is that really what
your body needs?
Just like no two people look or sound the same, no
two people's genetic makeup is the same. Ayurveda goes
very in-depth about discovering the unique nuances of our
individual physical and mental characteristics. However,
sports science also categorizes people in three main archetypes, based on their body type. Though this is just
scratching the surface, it gives us more of an idea of what
our natural tendencies are. By discovering our unique
physiology, we are better able to eat correctly for our needs.
Some of us have increased development of the ectodermal
layer, contributing to a more active nervous system and
faster catabolism (the breakdown of muscle tissue.) This
makes make us more naturally thin, full of thoughts,
sensitive to our surroundings and sweat minimally. Exactly
like a Vata.
Vata is regulated by Ether and Air energy, regulating
the nervous system as well. Vatas are small-boned, dry-skinned,
bold-bodied, hypersensitive to their surroundings
and imaginative. When they're off balance, they can become
anxious or anemic. I often compare Vata to the Fall wind-cool,
dry, creative and a little bit all over the place.
If you are an Ectomorph/Vata, then eat more warming,
grounding foods like soups, stews and proteins. Avoid too
much cold, raw food, which will cool down your already
weak digestive fire. Make sure you stretch your body to
prevent it from getting stiff and practice strength-training
exercises. Practice more mindfulness.
Others of us have increased development of the mesodermal
layer. We're naturally more muscular, prone to stress, with
strong bones and appetites. Just like a Pitta.
Pitta is comprised of Fire and Water energy, controlling
transformation—metabolism, digestion, assimilation and
muscle development. Pittas are naturally athletic, high-achieving
people with strong work ethics… and appetites.
When they're off balance, they can become impatient,
overheated or agitated. I often compare Pitta to the summer-hot,
fiery and passionate!
If you are a Mesomorph/Pitta, consume cooling,
hydrating foods like fresh fruit and leafy greens. Avoid spicy
food, caffeine and chocolate, which are all too stimulating
heat-inducing for your already hot system. Be careful not to
overexert yourself and become overly competitive. Practice
yin yoga and meditation regularly.
And there are those of us with increased development of
the endodermal layer. We may have slower metabolisms
and digestions and are prone towards respiratory issues.
Exactly like the Kapha Dosha.
Kapha is comprised of Earth and Water energy,
regulating structure, body tissue and bone structure. Kaphas
are peaceful, easy-going, good-natured people. When out of
balance, however, they can easily become overweight, catch
colds and become lazy. I like to compare Kaphas to the
Spring—cool, wet and dense.
If you're an Endomorph/Kapha, favor light, stimulating
foods like steamed vegetables and spices. Avoid sweet, cool
and creamy foods like ice cream or pasta, which will make
your sluggish digestive system even slower. Make sure you
break a sweat everyday to prevent yourself from becoming
lethargic. Try something new everyday.
Connecting the Dots
The characteristics we have are not just incidental. Every
little piece of our body is connected to the larger whole,
helping us unravel another piece of the puzzle for perfect
health. The smallest thing from the way you digest food
actually can say everything about you. By learning about
your body type, you are better able to nourish it with the
foods it needs to become your healthiest self.
I hope this helped you further understand your body
type so you can treat it like the temple that it is. If you'd like
to discover your mind-body type. Visit eatfeelfresh.com.