Is There a Connection Between Body Shape & Health?

By Michael A. Smith, MD

Do you believe that your body shape can influence health and even the development of specific diseases? Well, there’s a whole practice of medicine that does — it’s known as Ayurvedic medicine.

This form of medicine has been practiced in the Far East for thousands of years. And practitioners of it firmly believe in a body shape and disease connection.

Doshas Connect Body & Energy

Doshas are the connecting link between the physical body and energy — both physical energy that moves our bodies and energy that runs our minds and emotions.

The word “Doshas” is from a primitive language called Sanskrit. It means a fault, as in a dividing line or space that separates different parts of the body. It’s believed that these dividing lines are where energy flows in and from our bodies.

Doctors of Ayurvedic medicine believe that an imbalance within the Doshas making up our bodies can lead to disease. But not only that — based on your predominate Doshas, they believe they can even predict the diseases you’re most likely to develop.

What Makes Doshas?

Every person is born with a certain ratio of elements that make up Doshas. The elements that combine in different ratios to make your predominate Dosha are space, air, fire, water and earth. These elements will combine to form one of three main Doshas:

  • Vata – is composed of space and air
  • Pitta – is composed of fire and water
  • Kapha – is composed of earth and water
It’s believed that each Dosha requires a specific lifestyle and nutritional support to prevent the diseases common to each one. Let’s take a look at the Doshas.

Vata – Thin, Flexible and Light Build

Do you have a friend who’s thin and always in a rush? Your friend is likely a Vata. These are people who are predominately thin, flexible and have a light build. They are often underweight and find it hard to gain weight. They have a lot of lean muscle mass and very little body fat. Vata women often appear small and flat-chested.

Vatas have high sex drive and are highly intelligent. They are creative, driven and have a wonderful imagination. But the flip side is they can have problems with energy levels and have poor physical endurance. They make great sprinters, but not long-distance runners. They can be obsessive and prone to anxiety attacks. Their friends call them moody and their sleep is usually irregular.

Bottom-line: Life for a Vata is fast-paced. They eat fast, walk fast and talk fast. If you identify with the characteristics of Vata, then we need to support a healthy mood and balance you more towards calming nutrients. Here are some supplement suggestions:

  • Saffron extract
  • Tryptophan
  • Lemon-balm
  • Adaptogenic herbs like Holy Basil
  • Progesterone and pregnenolone (if low on a blood test)

Pitta – Strength, Endurance & Medium Build

A strong, medium build person with a fair complexion is usually a Pitta. They have the classic “iron stomach” and can eat almost anything without getting an upset stomach. They are sharp, articulate and adventurous — a world traveler and diplomat is a Pitta.

On the flip side they eat too much and this can cause digestive problems as they age. They can be hot tempered and irritable if under stress. As a matter of fact, stress often leads to depression. Pittas will not back off during an argument; they love to debate and love a challenge.

Physically, they sweat easily and have slightly higher body temperatures. Chronic inflammation and high blood pressure are common. They are either on or off, there’s no real middle ground for a Pitta. They also often have bad breath.

Bottom-line: Pittas are driven, motivated and determined people. Here’s some supplement suggestions for a Pitta:

  • Probiotics
  • Additional Omega-3 oils
  • Boswellia extract
  • Magnesium
  • Grape seed extract

Kapha – Strong, Powerful & Large Build

Kapha are physically strong and powerful. These are the “big boned” and slow movers. Let’s just be honest; they can be physically intimidating at times. But that’s where the intimidation ends.

Kapha’s are soft-eyed, kind, big hearted and generous. They are the ones that will literally give you the shirts off their backs. They have great memories; they sleep like babies and have steady to low energy levels.

On the outside their skin is oily, but on the inside this results in well-lubricated joints. Overall, the Kapha body is resistant to change and bodily processes resist extremes.

On the downside, they are prone to sinus congestion and upper respiratory infections. The make a lot of mucus. Their appetites for sugary foods make them prone to body fat and excessive weight. Here are some nutrients for Kapha:

  • Ubiquinol CoQ10
  • D-ribose
  • Chromium
  • Magnesium
  • N-Acetyl-cysteine
  • Slippery elm
  • White Kidney bean
  • Seaweed extracts
Which one are you? Keep in mind that we all have character traits consistent with all three. The point is to see where you predominately fit.

Please note: The information on Ayurvedic medicine and the Doshas comes from several different online sources which are listed below.




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