Mar 08, 2015




The sweet taste - earth and water elements. The sweet taste promotes the growth of tissues, is nourishing, adds bulk to the body and brings about contentment, in excess it causes weakness, laziness heaviness and weakens digestion. The sweet taste will pacify vata and pitta but is aggravating for kapha. We generally think of sugar as being the sweet taste, but there are many others such as honey, sweet fruits, grains, potatoes, milk and rice. 


The refinement of sugar, flour and rice is the cause of a huge upsurge of diabetes throughout the world. Bread and potatoes are also the sweet taste. The upsurge of gluten intolerance over recent years with many theories as to the cause. Man has been eating wheat since time in memorial, so whatever the reason it has to do with recent developments. There are many additives. preservatives and artificial substances in bread and the body cannot use these substances. So when the body rejects or becomes allergic to these substances it recognizes the association with When gluten intolerant people turn to pure wheat they find they are no longer allergic to gluten. Another theory is that genetically modified wheat has a much higher content gluten than normal so coupled with the previous issue wheat is not tollerated. The same is with the homogenization of milk which renders the fat molecules much smaller and fat is distributed through the milk instead of floating to the top. This is thought to be the cause of leaky gut problems and allergies to milk. Pasteurization destroys valuable bacteria in milk which is renders it more difficult to digest.


The Sour Taste is earth and fire elements and aids digestion by promoting salivation and increasing the digestive fire. In excess it causes burning sensations in the throat chest and heart, causes the retention of fluid. The sour taste pacifies vata, but aggravates kapha and pitta. Sour foods include citrus fruits and fermented foods, vinegar, wine and soy sauce. The health benefits of wine have been promoted over recent years and as such has increased the consumption of wine considerably. Wine-tasting events have become an excuse to consume vast quantities of wine, whereas in wine tasting the wine is not swallowed. To mix several different wines and often mix beer with it takes away any health benefits which wine might have. Ayurveda uses herbal and tonic wines as medicine, but only a tablespoon of wine mixed with water as an aperitif to aid digestion is taken.


The Salty Taste is water and fire elements. Salty promotes digestion, brings out the taste in food and is cleansing. In excess salt causes water retention, falling & greying of hair, hyperacidity and infections. Salty pacifies vata but is aggravating for kapha and pitta. Salty is the only one that isn’t really a taste, it just is. Salt is very important to aid digestion but too much salt causes water retention which is why it is so valuable in the heat and when there is a loss of water and dehydration. In modern times when there is too much salt in the diet and no shortage of drinking water salt becomes a problem. This is why we recommend taking control of salt intake. Salt will be in all processed foods especially canned foods, we recommend not using salt at all in cooking, but to have a good salt available for taste. The best source of salt is mineral and sea salt because there will be other trace minerals other salt-rich foods are kelp and other seaweeds. Table salt is too processed with de-caking and bleaching agents etc. but table salt does contain iodine, which is important for thyroid health. Iodine is rich in seaweeds, shrimp etc. Iodine is best taken as food rather than a supplement.  


The Pungent Taste is the air and fire elements. Pungent is most important for digestion as it helps to discharge oily and sticky waste products, which will cause the production of ama.  The pungent taste is a germicidal, but in excess will cause weakness, thirst, emaciation and fainting. Pungent pacifies kapha and aggravates vata and Pitta. Most diets do not contain adequate amounts of the pungent taste which are in garlic, onions, black pepper and ginger. The Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the healthiest diets and it is because of garlic eaten and fresh olive oil. Fresh olive oil cannot be compared to the oil we get in the West which is weeks old before it gets to the shelf and then sits in the cupboard for months before being used. This is why it is good practice to buy small amounts of oil from a good source and replace regularly.  


The Bitter Taste is the air and ether elements and is detoxifying, antibacterial, germicidal, reduces fever and is cleansing. If take in excess it will cause vata diseases, dryness roughness of the vessels and wasting. Bitter pacifies kapha and pitta and aggravates vata. The bitter taste is in spinach, green cabbage, fenugreek, turmeric, bitter melon and in coffee. The issue of coffee is a controversial one, on which there are many opinions. The way coffee is consumed in Italy when a cup or two of high quality freshly ground strong coffee will be taken in the morning is a lot different than commonly taken in the US. The bitter taste is very aggravating for Vata which is why we become jittery after too much and it keeps us awake. The bitter taste is beneficial for diabetes, in ayurveda bitter melon, which is in the squash family and extremely bitter, is commonly used to treat diabetes. The decaffeinated coffee is not recommended because of processing. 


The Astringent Taste is air and earth elements and is a sedative, stops diarrhea and bleeding, promotes healing and the absorption of fluids. In excess it causes dryness of the mouth, constipation, retention of gas and weakens vitality. The astringent taste causes vata diseases and pacifies pitta and kapha. The astringent taste is legumes or pulses, broccoli, cauliflower, artichoke, cranberries, grains, pomegranate and radish. Indian’s sometimes eat unripe bananas for the astringent taste. The combination of rice the sweet taste and legumes creates amino acid which produces a whole protein. This is a complex process which goes way beyond the limits of this blog, but it is clear that the consumption of legumes and grain is lacking in the Western diet. It is interesting to note that most indigenous diets include the grain and bean combination as the staple. 


A complete indian meal with pickles, bitter melon and sweet rice puddings is the most healthy of all diets because it will have all of the tastes. But this doesn’t mean that an ayurvedic diet has to be Indian food, all the tastes can be blended to create a healthy well-balanced diet in any culture. 


Of course there are certain things which the ancients could not have predicted when they devised this system of evaluating food and medicines. The main one of course is the industrialization of food which has depleted micronutrients from the soils. A trace element which is only found in soil is selenium. In New Zealand the soil is lacking selenium so everyone is advised to supplement selenium. Foods grown for common consumption have no reports on the selenium content. 


The western diet is severely lacking in magnesium found in dark green leafy vegetables, magnesium is essential for muscle health and of course the heart is muscle. Potassium a similar element to salt is important and many diets are not so much high in salt as low in potassium. A healthy diet consists of a wide variety of grains, fruit and vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts, fats (not discussed in this paper) and small amounts of animal protein if desired. 

According To Ayurveda & Yoga - Ann Holaday

Six Tastes


No Comments
Post a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

According to Ayurveda & Yoga

© 2018 Atay All rights reserved. Powered by THE PHINIX GROUP