by Morgan Webert
Does your food satisfy your tastebuds?
Accoding to Ayurveda, the traditional medicine system of India, the sense of taste is a natural guide map towards proper nutrition. Our tastebuds do more than just simply identify if something seems yummy or not; they open the body to receive the nutritive value of foods by providing the initial spark to the digestive process by stimulating salivation and enzyme secretion.
Ayurveda categorizes all foods into six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. The tastes, just like everything else in nature, are comprised of the five elements: ether, air, fire, water and earth. The wisdom of understanding food based on its taste comes from this elemental connection.
When we identify the taste of a food and know what elements create it, we then also know how it will effect us and we can tailor our eating to draw in the elements we need.
Ayurveda recommends two simple principles for achieving a balanced diet through the Six Tastes.
Include all 6 Tastes in each meal.
Each taste nourishes us in a different way. The brain speaks to the body when it requires nourishment in the form of food. When we incorporate all 6 Tastes into each meal, we’re making sure these signals are properly met, thus avoiding food cravings or the over consumption of certain foods.
One of the greatest nutritional issues in western society is subclinical malnutrition. This means someone may consume a large amount of food, but because the food lacks in nutritional quality their tissues are malnourished. This creates a vicious cycle of the brain signaling constant hunger because the body isn’t getting enough nutrients, stimulating cravings and overeating until the nutrients are provided.
By including all 6 Tastes we incorporate the various ways in which our body needs nutrients and thus it feels satiated.
Determine the proportion of tastes you eat based on your unique constitution.
We each have a unique constitutional make-up of the five elements. Some people are more fiery and hot, while others are more light and airy and other dense and solid.
The body often naturally desires tastes that balance it and reject tastes that aggravate it. If we observe our natural tendencies, and which elements we’re dominated by, we can choose tastes that balance our constitution rather than aggravate it.
The typical modern diet has an excess of sweet and salty tastes and lacks the balancing effects of the other four tastes. This is a primary cause for the epidemic of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease in the West.
Which tastes do you mostly eat? Which tastes do you need to eat more of?