Ayurvedic Detox Diet for Reducing Ama

By Dr. Suhas Kshirsagar


According to Ayurveda, certain foods that are likely to not be digested properly cause a build-up of toxins and waste materials (Ama) in the system. These are foods that are heavy, greasy, state or old, including: cheese, pork, lard, white sugar, and white flour products. Yogurt is often included here, as it tends to clog the channels.


Ama-forming foods are mainly Kapha (watery) in nature, so that an anti-Ama diet is like an anti-Kapha diet. It is similar to the regular Western health food, mucus-free, live and raw food diet. Such a diet is used in Ayurveda, but it is not given to everyone; it is only part of a preliminary cleansing treatment.



For detoxification, most fruit should be taken only in small amounts. Sweet fruits and fruit juices should be avoided, especially the fruit and juice of bananas, pears, persimmons, grapes or cherries. Some sour fruit juices can be helpful, such as lemon, lime or grapefruit, and astringent fruit such as cranberry or pomegranate.



Most vegetables are good detoxifiers; they are best raw but steamed is also good. Sprouts—Alfalfa, sunflower, buckwheat, wheat, rice and barley—are first choice, as they contain special enzymes that help digest Ama. Vegetable juices such as celery, parsley, cilantro and spinach are good, but carrot is often too sweet, particularly by itself. The heavier root vegetables, such as potatoes and sweet potatoes, should be taken with more care. Mushrooms should be used with caution.



Most whole grains are good, but breads and pastries should be avoided, particularly those with white flour. Sweet and heavy grains, wheat and oats, should be taken sparingly. Wheat can cause allergies in people with high Ama. Kitchari—equal parts long grain rice and split mung beans—is an excellent food for detoxification. Barley is also good.



Most beans should be avoided as they cause gas, which tends to produce Ama. Mung beans, however, are good for most Ama (toxic) conditions, particularly Sama Pitta (toxic fire).


Nuts and Seeds

Most nuts, particularly when roasted or salted, are heavy and mucus-forming. They should be generally avoided in Ama conditions. Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame and other seeds are better but not to be taken in large quantities.



Dairy is highly Amagenic (ama-increasing), particularly when pasteurized. Milk is very mucus-forming. Yogurt, cheese and butter are even more so. Generally, dairy should be avoided, though unsalted Ayurvedic buttermilk can be taken. It is better to take acidophilus in pill form than to eat yogurt.


Animal Products

Animal products strongly feed toxins. Animal fats, lards, and red meat particularly should be avoided. Pork is the worst. Fish including shellfish, can also be very mucus-increasing, especially when it is not immediately fresh. Chicken and turkey are the safest meats to take, specifically the white meat. But it is better to avoid animal products altogether, including eggs.



Oils should be avoided as they are mucus-forming. Ghee—clarified butter—can be taken in small amounts. Dry oils such as mustard or flaxseed can be used.



Sweeteners should be avoided. Honey is the safest, but it should not be heated or cooked with. White sugar is the most Amagenic (toxin-forming) of all foods, and brown sugar is not much better.



All spices are generally good for Ama conditions, including hot spices as indicated herbs for the specific Doshas.


Salt increases Ama and should be used sparingly, preferably rock salt, which is lighter and easier to digest than sea salt.



Cold drinks should be avoided, especially those with ice. Cool spring water or distilled water is good. Herbal teas are excellent. Hot spice teas like ginger, cinnamon and cardamom are best.


Coffee should be avoided, but a little black tea is alright.


G Cautionary Note

As this is a fairly reducing diet, it should be implemented carefully. Vata (air) people should generally not follow this diet for longer than two weeks, Pitta (fire) people for no longer than a month, and Kapha (water) can follow it for longer periods. It can be modified according to the diets for the three humors, particularly when taken over a longer period of time.


This diet should not be given to those who are overly weak, emaciated, devitalized, very old or very young, nor should it be continued if the individual becomes debilitated. Signs of excess detoxifying diet include insomnia, palpitations, low energy, fainting, absence of menstruation and long-term loss of appetite. The Western raw food diet, which is similar, also has such side effects when given in excess. Though it is a helpful tool, it has its limits.