The Importance of Taste in Ayurveda ~
In Ayurveda, the concept of taste is more than just making food palatable and pleasurable for the tongue ~ although that is definitely a vital part of it. More importantly, taste indicates the physiological functions of food and the effects it has on the body, mind, and spirit.
This is one of the reasons Ayurveda considers food as medicine. The six tastes offer a complete guide map to balanced nutrition. When we include all six tastes, we nourish all three doshas (bioenergies that create our unique constitutions) and we satisfy each of the major dietary building blocks.
Each of the six tastes, called Shad Rasa, denotes a particular biological function and energetic influence that creates changes in our system. Taste can produce either a therapeutic or an imbalancing action on the doshas, affecting the body, as well as a psychological component affecting the mind and spirit.
The six tastes are formed from the various permutations of the elements ~ space, air, fire, water, and earth. Your dosha and current state of balance determine how much of each taste you need. Every substance's unique combination of attributes will influence action in the body. When food lands on your tongue, specialized taste buds send messages to corresponding organs giving an immediate action in the body.
Also, each taste relates to about a one-hour stage of the digestive process where each taste nourishes our Rasa Dhatu (the waters of our body, our lymph) during its respective stage of digestion. Therefore Rasa Dhatu contains all six tastes ~ sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent.
In my coming Taste Series, I will elaborate more on each taste and explain the functions & effects each taste has on our whole being and I will provide foods in each category. This could be a very helpful tool to help you consciously choose foods that best keep your unique dosha balanced.
I suggest you also read my "Discover Your Dosha Guidebook" as this series will have more relevance for you by giving you a foundation to build from and teach you about your unique self through the lens of Ayurveda.
Stay tuned for my upcoming posts on each individual taste!