During my Ayurvedic Yoga Specialist training (I graduated in October '21, woo-hoo!), I was introduced to a concept that kind of rocked my world--in a good way. According to my teacher, Kathryn Templeton, "Our health depends solely on FOOD. Strength, energy, clarity of mind, radiance of skin, immunity, sharpness of the senses depends on the food we eat." It gives the old adage, "you are what you eat" more urgency, doesn't it?
The focus on food and optimal digestion is one of the main components of Ayurvedic practice. In Ayurveda there are six tastes, and incorporating all six tastes into every meal is what allows the food to move through our digestive system with ease.
The six tastes are:
The first three are staples of the American diet, so no need to discuss here. But allow me to help you become more familiar with the other three.
Astringent foods make the mouth feel rough or dry, they can be a bit tougher to swallow because of the dryness. Green bananas, walnuts, strawberries, basil, and cranberries are all considered astringent.
Bitter foods cool and create lightness as they cleanse the body. Bitter is a bit dry also, so it's great during the wet springtime. Coffee, black tea, dark chocolate, turmeric, olive oil, and spinach are considered bitter.
Pungent foods are fiery. They are sharp and intense and can also flush out and cleanse like bitter does, so these are also good at this time of year. Some pungent foods are black pepper, vinegar, fresh ginger, cinnamon, sage, and most of the peppers from bell to jalapeno.
Usually foods have more than one of the six tastes, so it is easier than you think to incorporate all six into every meal. And, of course, the list of foods in each category is much more extensive than what I've written here.
If you'd like to learn more about the six tastes, including a more thorough list of each, this is my favorite online resource.
Wishing you good health through great food choices!