The concept of #FoodAsMedicine in Ayurveda is linked to the concept of the six tastes, known as rasas. For true nutritional balance, all six tastes must be present in each meal.
By embracing all the tastes, we experience true satisfaction. We have fewer cravings and/or addictions.
Did you know that the taste of the food informs you of the quality of the food? The taste impacts your body and mind. This is pretty amazing to think about!
This may change your relationship with food.
Digestion does begin in your mouth. That mouth-watering trigger when we take a bite is just the beginning—but it is an important step.
Ayurveda describes six tastes but most of us can maybe think of three or four tastes.
It begins in your mouth
The common tastes are sweet, salty and sour but the other three rasas are astringent, bitter and pungent tastes.
Each dosha is drawn to certain tastes that are a reflection of the qualities of that dosha. In my #TheDishonDoshas series on social media, I take people through the impact of doshas on your well-being. Doshas are your natural constitution, or your metabolic state. The three metabolic states are a combination of the elements of air, ether, fire, water and earth. They are:
Vata – mostly air/ether
Pitta – mostly air/fire with some water
Kapha – most earth/water
Because we have each dosha within us, this is why all the tastes are best to be present for each meal when possible. One or two doshas are predominant in each of us, and this is where each of us need to be wary of food choices. Spices help to create balance for us with all our food choices.
Vata: bitter, astringent, pungent
Pitta: sour, salty, pungent
Kapha: sweet, salty, sour
The Six Tastes
This taste has the capacity to increase our body tissues, reduces hunger and nourishes/comforts the body and our mind. Vata and Pitta types of people need it more than Kapha types.
The elements of water and earth make this taste found in sugars, fats, carbohydrates as well as amino acids. Grains and fats are in this category. So is water and milk. For our sustenance, it is the most dominant taste we have.
In small quantities, this taste is good for all the doshas, but it is most benefitting for Vata types. It helps us to digest and eliminate wastes from our body.
The elements of earth and fire create this taste. Fermented foods are all sour. Many fruits are sour with some sweet: limes, lemons and strawberries.
This taste is good in small amounts for all doshas, but Kapha types benefit the most. This taste stimulates our appetite. It balances our metabolism and our secretions for digestion to occur.
The elements of fire and air form this taste. We are familiar with this taste in peppers, ginger and garlic.
This taste is best in small quantities for all doshas, but Vata types are benefited the most. This taste activates digestion and helps to cleanse our body tissues.
The elements of water and fire create this taste. All seaweed and salts are in this category as are watery vegetables (cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes).
This taste is good for all of us in small, medicinal amounts with it benefiting Pitta types the most. This taste helps to tone the organs, detoxify the body and support the liver. It impacts skin ailments.
The elements of air and space make this taste. It is present in all bitter foods: Brussels sprouts, turmeric, watercress and endive lettuce.
This taste is similar to the bitter taste in that a little goes a long way at the medicinal level. Kapha and Pitta types are able to eat more astringent foods compared to Vata types. This taste constricts the body in that it reduces secretions. It is the strongest of all the tastes.
The elements of air and earth make this taste. Astringent foods include legumes and teas. Herbal medicines are often astringent.
In coming weeks as we go into the holidays, I’ll be posting here and on social media about all the tastes. I’d love to hear more from you about how you are bringing more awareness into your life about #FoodAsMedicine, so please join my newsletter and follow me on social media. And while you’re practicing self-care as we enter the holidays, be mindful that as we give life, we take care and we take care of each other (#GiveLifeTakeCare). For a powerful start to any self-care program, come take a look at my book Cleanse Your Body, Reveal Your Soul.