- (Swada) स्वाद SWEET- Sugar, milk, butter, ghee, sweet fruit, bread, pasta, grains
- (Amla) अम्ल SOUR – Yoghurt, lemon, vinegar, wine, soy sauce, grapefruit, aged cheese
- (Lawana) लवण SALT -Salt (also in vegetables; especially celery and seaweeds)
- (Tikta) तिक्त BITTER -Leafy greens, olives, turmeric, horseradish, turmeric, fenugreek, nettle, lettuce, aloe
- (Ushana) उषण -PUNGENT Hot, spicy foods such as pepper, ginger, garlic, cayenne, chilli
- (Kasaya) कषाय -ASTRINGENT Beans, lentils, dhal, honey, rhubarb, apples, leafy greens, pomegranate, sprouts
The tongue has taste buds which register all the above six tastes. If the body receives all these tastes in each meal it feels satisfied and will not overeat or feel hungry again soon after eating. However, there are far more taste buds that register the sweet as opposed to astringent or sour taste. This is because we do not require equal amounts of each taste. There are more ‘sweet’ taste buds because this is the taste we require the most of; sweet tasting foods, such as rice and milk, are nourishing and give us protein, energy and vitality. They are heavy and grounding and are required by Vata types much more than Kapha types.
Bitter tasting foods supply many vitamins, enzymes and minerals. They are also detoxifying, reduce water retention and are good as tonics for the liver and blood. Most are cleansing and help take away burning and itching sensations. In excess they can aggravate vata and dehydrate the body. Astringent tasting foods are also diuretic and blood purifiers. They help balance pitta and kapha but in excess can create gas and constipation. Spices are certainly a quick, convenient and flavorful way of incorporating the more unusual bitter and astringent tastes. Salt helps the body retain water and maintains substance and grounding, whilst pungent and sour tasting foods burn up toxins and stimulate the digestion.
As different body-types require different quantities of each taste we must allow our own innate intelligence to determine what combinations it requires in terms of optimum nutrition, especially since this may change on a daily and/or seasonal basis. Our limited modern model of nutrition is continually being updated and adapted as we discover new groups of molecules (such as vitamins, minerals enzymes and proteins) that our body requires to function optimally. It then struggles to determine the appropriate amount of each vitamin, mineral, enzyme or protein our bodies require and in what combinations they should be taken in. The debate will probably go on forever as there are so many variables to consider. However, Ayurveda has a simple solution – simply accept that our own body knows intuitively and instinctively just what it needs at any particular moment. It relays its message through our desire for particular taste combinations and we should follow those impulses for maximum health. Of course, to be sure that these signals are getting through we need to remain relaxed, balanced and fully aware. The life-style recommendations in this book are designed to facilitate this process.
To summaries: the only effective way to reduce the amount of food you eat and to cut down on unhealthy cravings is to include all six tastes in every meal. Furthermore, these six tastes are not required in equal amounts but should be combined in proportions to suit your particular body type.
Vata body-types: Generally require more sweet, sour and salty tastes especially in winter or if stressed. Meals should also be heavy, warm, oily and nourishing (soups and stews are good).
Pitta body-types: Generally require more sweet, bitter and astringent tastes especially in summer. Food should also be slightly heavy and oily and small cold dishes may be included.
Kapha body-types: Generally require more bitter, astringent and pungent tastes, especially in spring or if feeling heavy, lethargic or dull minded. Food should also be light, dry and warm to aid digestion and heavy, oily foods and dairy products should be excluded.
So these were the discussion on different types of taste in Ayurveda and their relation with tri-dosha viz. Vata, Pitta and Kapha in Ayurveda.