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Experiencing the Power of Flavor

Updated: Sep 11, 2023

When we think of fueling our bodies, we often fixate on the nutrition facts and the macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fats). Yes those are all important. However, Ayurveda isn’t so much concerned about getting in the ‘numbers’ as it is about understanding how food’s attributes impacts our individual health.

How my body responds to a delicious piece of cake will yield a different response to yours. This is dependent on the person’s digestive and metabolic strength. When food lands on our tongues, we experience the predominant taste that informs the brain and gut what enzymes are needed to break down the food, to then be assimilated and absorbed. Within each taste, or flavor, contains a physiological and energetic purpose. That purpose is meant to be put into good use for our tissues. The less variety of tastes we consume, the greater nutritional deficiencies are to occur. This can lead to unwanted cravings as well as physiological and energetic imbalances in order to fill in the nutritional gap.


So now that we understand a little bit about flavor, lets explore each taste and how they effect us physical health and well-being.

 

Sweet Taste: nourishing foods

Foods: rice and grains, root vegetables, milk and cream, meat, sugar, berries, almonds, and cashews.


These foods help build and grow our cells and tissues, soothe our senses, enhance our strength and stamina, and act to stabilize our bodies. Too much can lead to brain fog, weight gain, and lethargy. Mentally they increase pleasure, joy, and contentment. If you are of a Vata and/or Pitta constitution, ideally, you will want at least half of your meal to consist of these building foods.


Pacify 's Vata and Pitta. Increases Kapha.


 

Sour Taste: digestive foods

Foods: citrus and pineapple, yogurt, aged cheese, fermented foods and vinegar.


These foods are light to digest, they balance the heaviness of sweet foods, they help to stimulate our appetite, and enhance the flavor of the meal. We only need a small amount such as a garnish of lime juice or a small side of pickled vegetables. Too much can lead to acidic indigestion, skin issues, and premature aging. Mentally they invigorate us and enhance our discernment.


Pacify's Vata. Increases Pitta and Kapha.


 

Salty Taste: flavor enhancer foods

Foods: you guessed it, salt. There are different kinds of salt such as sea, black, soma, and rock salts. Seaweed and most seafood consist of this taste too.


Salt helps to draw out water and relieve us of obstructions in the body’s channels. Salt also helps to enhance the other tastes, which is why when a dish lacks salt, it's bland. Too much salt can cause high blood pressure, skin rashes and dryness, water retention, and hair loss to name a few. Mentally salt creates mental ease and a zest for life.


Pacify's Vata. Increases Pitta and Kapha.


 

Pungent Taste: sharp and stimulating foods

Foods: chilies, garlic, onions, mustard greens and seeds, and clove.


Pungent foods heat our body up, spark our metabolism, clear congestion, and improve our digestive capacity. Too much leads to increased dryness, ulcers, diarrhea, skin irritation, and chronic inflammation. Mentally they enhance our motivation and ambition.


Pacify's Kapha. Increases Pitta and Vata.


 

Bitter Taste: cleansing foods

Foods: dandelion, kale, burdock root, turmeric, bitter melon, cacao, coffee.


These foods help to draw water out and reduce body bulk. They detoxify or alkalize the body, clear the blood and liver, aid in flushing lymph, reduce sugar cravings, and lower high blood pressure. Too much can cause depletion and dryness in the body, and raise bitter emotions. Mentally they enhance clarity, focus, and insightfulness.


Pacify's Pitta and Kapha. Increases Vata.


 

Astringent Taste: moisture absorbing foods

Foods: black and green tea, spinach and asparagus, honey, pomegranate and unripe banana.


These foods help to pull in moisture from the mouth and tissues, help with the absorption of nutrients, and purify the blood. Too much can slow digestion, create constipation, cramping, and gas. Mentally they promote optimism and overall well-being. It's good to prepare these foods with some fat or water to reduce the drying effect. Ayurveda suggests ending your meal with an astringent food to prevent overeating, such as a tiny spoonful of raw honey or a shot of buttermilk.


Pacify's Pitta and Kapha. Increases Vata.


 

When it comes to creating a balanced meal, think about ways you can add foods with all six tastes in relation to the season of your dosha.


Vata Dosha: sweet, salty, sour

Emphasize these foods if your Vata dominant and/or during the late fall- early winter.


Pitta Dosha: sweet, bitter, astringent

Emphasize these foods if your Pitta dominant and/or during the summer- early fall season.


Kapha Dosha: pungent, bitter, astringent

Emphasize these foods if your Kapha dominant and/or during the late winter- spring season.



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