DOSHA AND THE SIX TASTES
Ayurveda has classified foods according to their tastes. There are six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and astringent. Depending on the type of dosha or body type, you will have to follow a different ayurvedic diet to stay healthy. Unlike the western concept of a standard balanced diet being healthy for all, Ayurveda gets more specific, and the results are long-lasting and prominent as well. While all 5 tastes are essential to ensure you get a well-rounded diet, it is important to balance and switch up HOW MUCH of each taste you eat, based on your body constitution.
Those with pitta body types must increase their intake of sweet, bitter and astringent foods. These foods help keep the mind calm and balanced and allow the body to stay cool. Sweet food includes plenty of fruits such as peaches, grapes and melons; sweet vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots and beetroot; grains including rice and wheat. All these have a deeply cooling effect on the body. In addition to this, bitter food such as turmeric root, kale, lettuce, fenugreek all have the effect of reducing heartburn. They also help the body detox and cleanse the blood. Astringent food includes cranberries, okra, parsley, saffron and basil. They have powerful anti-inflammatory properties, and can help soothe a fever or even diarrhea.
Those with kapha dosha body type must specifically consume more foods which are pungent, bitter and astringent. Pungent food includes onions, ginger, garlic, black pepper, all of which are important spices in the ayurvedic practice. They each have their own healing properties, and when added to food can help keep the body healthy. Bitter food such as turmeric root and kale help promote digestion and reduce the toxins or ama in the body. They must be a regular part of every meal to ensure smooth bowel movements. Astringent food such as cranberries, saffron and basil, help the kapha body by removing any excess water. This aids in prevention of bloating, and flatulence. It also helps reduce any swelling in the body.
Vata dosha body types must be managed properly in order to avoid different mental and physical issues. This type requires large amounts of food which is sweet, sour and salty. Fruits and dairy help provide the sweet component and also have the property of providing hydration to the body. Vata bodies can be dry and airy, which makes it essential to keep the body well-hydrated inside and out. Sour foods include lemon, hibiscus, rose hips, coriander, cloves, all of which have properties which help keep this body type grounded. Salty food is also essential, more for vata than any other body type, however it must be in
moderation. Excess salt can have the effect of dehydrating the body.
By following the guidelines above according to your dosha, you can tailor interesting meals which incorporate all required tastes. If you don’t know your dosha, always consult an ayurvedic doctor who will help you tailor an ayurvedic meal plan suited to your body.