According to Ayurveda, there are six main flavors in nature: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter and astringent. These tastes come from the five basic elements that make up everything in the universe:
- Water and earth form the sweet taste.
- Earth and fire – sour taste.
- Water and fire – salty taste.
- Fire and air – the spicy taste.
- Air and space – bitter.
- Air and land – astringent.
The sense of taste not only affects digestion, but has a direct effect on doshas. A basic principle in Ayurveda is that like increases like.
For example, the sweetness derived from the elements water and earth increases Kapha dosha, which is a manifestation of the same elements, and decreases vata and pitta. Foods such as bread, rice, milk, sugar, most fruits are sweet. They are necessary for any body type, but their excessive use increases Kapha and leads to obesity, increased mucus secretion in the nose and paranasal sinuses, sputum formation in the bronchial tree, causes a feeling of heaviness, laziness, is considered a cause of developing diabetes.
Sour comes from the elements fire and earth. Acidic foods are most beneficial for Vata. Small amounts can be used from Kapha and very small from Pitta. These are citrus fruits, yogurt, vinegar, cheese, all foods that are the product of fermentation. Used in moderation, they stimulate appetite and salivation, improve digestion, invigorate the mind. Excessive use cause thirst, heartburn, disorder, can contribute to the development of various diseases.
Salty foods are used in small amounts of all types, but are most useful for Vatta and increase Pitta and Kapha. Salty foods are sea salt, rock salt, kelp. Salt has a laxative effect, reduces spasms in the colon, maintains electrolyte balance, stimulates salivation, improves the taste of food, aids digestion and excretory processes. Excessive salt intake can upset the balance of Pitta and Kapha. Causes hypertension, worsening of heart disease, skin diseases, early appearance of wrinkles.
Spicy is most useful for Kapha. It can be used in small amounts from Vata and quite sparingly from Pitta. Many types of peppers, onions, radishes, garlic, mustard, ginger are spicy. They improve digestion, clean the sinuses, stimulate nasal and tear secretion. Excessive use can lead to burning and thirst, ulcers, skin diseases, diarrhea, insomnia.
Bitter is good for everyone in small amounts, but it is best for Pitta. Coffee, aloe, turmeric, lettuce are bitter. It improves the taste of food in combination with other flavors and is considered antitoxic. It cleanses the body and liver of toxins and relieves the feeling of burning and itching in skin diseases, reduces the temperature in febrile conditions, improves digestion. Bitter foods have a drying effect and causes a reduction in body fat. Excessive use is not recommended. It causes dry and rough skin, weight loss and sexual disorders.
The astringent should be used in pharmaceutical quantities. Each dosha can use it in minimal quantities, but Pitta and Kapha – a little more than Vata. Pomegranate, beans, okra, cherries, tannin-rich foods are astringent. Astringent has a tightening effect, reduces secretions, helps heal wounds and reduces bleeding. Excessive use can cause dryness in the throat and mouth, constipation, gas, weight loss.
What foods people with Vata constitution should avoid?
People with Vata constitution should avoid bitter, spicy and astringent foods. Sweet, salty and sour foods are recommended for them. Light, dry and cold foods are not suitable. It is good that everything is cooked, warm, with enough fat, because Vata dosha is light, dry and lean.
What foods people with Pitta constitution should avoid?
People with Pitta constitution should avoid sour, salty and spicy foods, like citrus fruits and pickles. Favorable for them are sweet, bitter and astringent foods, which should not be warm and cooked with a moderate amount of sunflower oil or melted butter.
What type of foods people with Kapha constitution should avoid?
People with Kapha constitution should avoid sweet, sour and salty. Good for them are bitter, spicy and astringent foods. They should be warm, with very little fat, mainly corn or sunflower oil.
These are general principles that should not be taken for granted. People should take food all six tastes, but in different proportions, according to one’s predominant dosha. In order to achieve a feeling of satiety, it is necessary for all six tastes to be present in one meal. This diversity is achieved by adding different spices to the food, rather than taking many products in one meal.