CHAPTER 7: THE 6 RASAS OR TASTES AND YOUR HEALTH
7.1: Role and Impact of Taste
The action of tasting your food can significantly impact your body. The Sanskrit word for taste, Rasa, has a number of potent meanings. Some of the most common ones are experience, enthusiasm, juice, plasma and essence. These diverse meanings give a hint of the significance of taste within Ayurvedic traditions.
RASA IS THE TRUE ESSENCE OF LIFE AND IT AFFECTS EACH ASPECT OF OUR BEING, FROM STRUCTURE AND PHYSIOLOGY TO OUR OVERALL STATE OF MIND AND CONSCIOUSNESS.
Ayurveda defines rasa as an extremely powerful and therapeutic tool that determines not only how you experience your food, but ultimately, the overall flavor of your existence. It assigns a much deeper significance to taste as it is responsible for determining the diverse effect of foods, spices, therapeutic herbs and experiences on your body, mind and soul. Digestion, in fact, begins the second that food enters your mouth.
There are nearly 10,000 taste buds in the mouth, and about 8,000 of them are on the tongue itself. The taste buds signal to the body when to release the appropriate enzymes which are needed to break down food. The underlying notion is that incorporating all six tastes in your meals and having them in rational amounts helps you to maintain good health and feel satisfied overall.
7.2 Sweet Taste
SWEETNESS COMPRISES OF EARTH AND WATER.
Sweet increases one’s kapha dosha in the body, while balancing Vata and Pitta doshas.
Qualities – heavy, moist, cold, difficult to digest
Positive Effects of Sweet taste in the body:
Negative effect of Sweet taste in the body (Emotion of excess):
- Slows the digestion process
- Decrease in appetite
- Increases water retention and bloating
- Creates excessive sugar cravings
- Obesity and heaviness in the body
- Lethargy and oversleeping
7.3 Sour Taste
SOURNESS COMPRISES OF EARTH AND FIRE.
Sourness can heighten kapha and pitta doshas, while balancing the Vata dosha. If consumed in excess, it can lead to severe dosha imbalance.
Qualities – liquid, oily, hot, greasy
Positive effects of Sourness:
- Digestive In nature
- Refreshing and energising effect
- Promotes healthy functioning of liver and flow of bile
- Leads to comprehensive behaviour
Negative effects of Sourness:
- Critical behaviour
7.4 Salty Taste
SALTINESS COMPRISES OF WATER AND FIRE.
Saltiness increases one’s vata dosha, while balancing their kapha and pitta doshas.
Qualities – liquid, heavy, oily, hot
Positive Effects of saltiness:
- Acts as Appetizer
- Antispasmodic properties
- Leads to understanding behaviour
Negative Effects of Saltiness:
- Increased energy
7.5 Bitter Taste
BITTERNESS COMPRISES OF ETHER AND AIR.
Bitter taste increases one’s vata dosha and balances their kapha and pitta doshas.
Qualities – cool, light, dry, soft
Positive effects of bitterness:
- Clarity and composition
- Introspection and self-awareness
- Calm behaviour
Negative effects of bitterness:
7.7 Pungency / Spice
PUNGENCY OR SPICE COMPRISES OF AIR AND FIRE.
This taste increases one’s pitta and vata doshas, while balancing their kapha dosha.
Qualities – hot, light, aromatic
Positive impact of Pungency:
- Enthusiasm and happiness
- Concentration and clarity
Negative impact of Pungency:
- Irritability and crankiness
- Aggressiveness and anger
- Jealousy and insecurity
ASTRINGENCY COMPRISES OF AIR AND EARTH.
Astringent taste tends to increase vata dosha. However, it balances kapha and pitta dosha.
Qualities – dry, cold, heavy, moist
Positive impact of Astringent taste:
- Composed and calming
Negative impact of Astringent taste (Emotion of excess):
- Anxiety and panicky heaviour
- Nervousness and self-doubt
- Depression and sadness
Through the first seven chapters. you would have gotten a basic idea into the different elements of Ayurveda. Let’s wrap it up in Chapter 8, following this one.
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