Ayurveda is the traditional yogic system of medicine. The word means The Science of Life and is based on the idea of maintaining balance in each of the body's systems through proper a diet, herbal treatments, and breath practices tailored to your unique constitution. Paramount to Ayurveda are the Six Tastes: Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, Pungent, and Astringent. Each taste has a unique relationship to the doshas, and contributes to overall health.
According to Ayurveda, the six tastes should be a part of every meal. This ensures that each of the major food groups, and those nutrients specific to them, are consumed on a daily basis. Pungent, Bitter, and Astringent tastes increase or exacerbate Vata. Sour, Salty, and Pungent tastes strengthen or exacerbate Pitta. The Sweet taste strengthens and exacerbates Kapha. To soothe or calm a dosha - which is what is attempted through the practice of Ayurveda - you want to avoid eating too much of those tastes that exacerbate a particular dosha, especially during the time of year or the season of life when a particular dosha tends to be elevated.
To cultivate balance, consider these guidelines:
Vata = the elements of Air and Space; the fall and early winter season; the ending season of life, from approx. age 60+. Calm the Vata Dosha with Sweet, Sour, and Salty tastes and warm, lightly cooked foods.
Pitta = the elements of Fire and Water; typically runs through the summer season into early fall; the time of life when one is establishing herself through career, family, and other adult responsibilities, typically the ages between 27 & 57 yrs. =/-. Placate the Pitta Dosha with Sweet, Bitter, Astringent and cooling foods.
Kapha = the elements of Earth and Water; the season runs from late winter through early summer, when the ground is wet and perennial plants are starting to grow again; childhood is the kapha season of life. Mitigate excess kapha dosha by avoiding sweets, and adding more pungent, bitter, and astringent raw foods to the daily diet.
Examples of foods in each taste category include:
Sweet - carbohydrates (grains like rice, all kinds of sweeteners and sugar, fruits, root vegies) dairy, fats, amino acids.
Salty - all kinds of salt, sea weed, pulses
Sour - fermented foods like yogurt, hard cheeses, citrus and other sour fruits, tomatoes
Pungent - spicy foods with volatile oils like hot peppers, ginger, garlic, cumin
Bitter - fresh leafy greens, dandelion, brassicas
Astringent - tannins found in tart foods like beans, lentils, pomegranate, green apples
To feel vibrant throughout the changing seasons and to maintain good health, consider incorporating each of these tastes into your daily diet. Doing so may leave you feeling more satiated, content, and balanced.
Questions - please schedule a consultation to determine your unique wellness personality and learn more about how to apply Ayurvedic Wisdom into your daily life.
Wishing you a healthy, happy, and joyous life, today and every day!
Sharon Harvey Alexander, C-IAYT