The prime element which aids in getting acquainted with the Ayurvedic nutrition is the “Taste”. The other name of taste is the rasa, which can be applied to each of the three constitutions to aid balance and healing. The Ayurvedic perspective ascertains that the taste is made from myriad distinct components.
The rasa is used to describe the experience of that particular taste, and the manner in which the body is affected by that particular taste. Photo from Flickr
Taste is what one experiences, when any food or herb is kept in the mouth. The rasa is used to describe the experience of that particular taste, and the manner in which the body is affected by that particular taste. Virya is the effect which each of the taste has, on the digestion process of the individual. For instance: the food items with hot virya, usually enhances the process of digestion where as the cool virya, slows down the process.
Taste also has immense effect on the metabolism level of an individual. The post digestive effect of a food item is tagged as its vipak. There are six tastes which are identified in the Ayurveda, which possess their own gunas or qualities. This article will throw light on the six tastes and the manner in which these tastes affect the body of the individuals.
Sweet possess a cool virya and is made from the elements of water and earth. It cools down the level of digestion and also adorns a sweet vipak. In the long run, the sweet taste creates excess moisture and heaviness. When taken in the moderate quantity, it can act as a simulator for grounding and growth. Sweet also promotes the feeling of satisfaction, love and a sense of satisfaction. If taken in excess, it can lead to inertia and complacency. Sweet is quite soothing to the Pitta, but can certainly cause heaviness to Kapha.
Fire and earth are the elements of the sour taste. The virya of this taste is inspired by the element of fire which signifies heating. Digestion is promoted by sour taste. Its vipak is sour, thus it warms the body gradually and also with its first stroke. A little moisture and heaviness is associated with the sour taste. Vata benefits from the sour taste the most, in terms of digestion. The strength of the sour taste is quite counterproductive when it comes to Pitta. The Kapha find it hard to retain the moisture and heaviness of the sour taste.
Salty taste is composed of the elements of water and fire. The heating virya of the salty taste is derived with the element of fire. This taste is also somewhat heavy and moist, like its contemporaries. It lies in the middle of the sweet and sour taste. The vipak of the salty taste is sweet. It aggrandizes the digestive process. It is quite helpful to the Vatas. Pitta on the other hand, can find its heat quite exasperating. The warmth of this taste is stimulating for the Kapha, but can become counterproductive.
The elements of fire and air constitute the pungent taste. It is the hottest of the lot and is a great stimulator for digestion. It is dry and light in quality. Its vipak is pungent. It casts a light, dry and hot effect on the body and thus, is a great balancer for the Kapha. A small proportion of this taste can be helpful to Vata.
The elements of ether and air constitute the bitter taste. It is the lightest as well as the coldest of all the tastes. Its vipak is pungent where as the virya is cold. It is of great significance for the Pitta and its dry and light qualities make it a balancing force for the Kapha. This taste is cumbersome to enjoy in the first go, but gradually it gels up with other taste.
It comprises of the elements of earth and air. It also possesses a cooling virya and a pungent vipak. It moderates the Pitta’s heat through its coolness and balances Kapha. Vata on the other hand, do not benefit much from the astringent taste, it only makes the individual with Vata constitution, dry and chilly.
The bottom line which emerges is that, sweet, salty and sour are of great support to the Vata; bitter, astringent and pungent are the great enhancers for Kapha; and Pitta attains its balancing through sweet, astringent and bitter taste.