Food as medicine

Our Daily Medicine

What we eat we become.

Food creates our body. Food also affect how we feel, our emotions and the type of thoughts we create. As we our changing daily, monthly and seasonally, we need different foods at different times to help us feel balanced, nourished and well.
We can become our own doctor every morning when we wake up. We open our eyes and observe how we are feeling. Did we eat too much last night? Do we feel hungry? Is their any pain? When we turn within and ask ourselves how are feeling, we can give ourselves the best medicine. We can ask, do I need to eat more, lighter or the same as the day before. In this way of being, every day starts as a new journey and new opportunity for us to grow fruitfully.
There are different types of tissues in the body, from skin, to blood, muscle, fat, bone, to nervous system and reproductive system. The entire anatomy and physiology require different elements and tastes to support the growth.

The Elements in Food

All natural whole foods have the 5 elements within them. Some foods are very earthy, so they are dense and heavy to digest. These foods build tissues well. Then we have the foods that are more watery. They can make us very juicy and soft. Other foods have the opposite effect. They create some heat and sharpness, and they can actually burn or scrape away the bodily tissues. Then we have the last elements which have more air and space in them. These foods make us lighter and have a drying effect on the body.

When we understand what elements are high or low in us, we can focus on the eating foods that will cause us to come into balance!

These Five elements all taste differently. So our body and mind react differently.

The six tastes:

Sweet

Salty

Sour

Bitter

Pungent

Astringent

Sweet Taste

Naturally sweet foods, create a heavy effect on the body. This is because they have high contents of earth and water elements.

Sweet Tasting foods:

.Root vegetables, nuts, mushrooms, seeds, dried fruits, meat, wheat oats, grains, rice and pulses. 

The large varieties of pulses, beans and peas. 

Foods with high water content, milk, cheeses, yogurt, other dairy product  juicy fruits, sweet potato, beets, olives, cucumber, watermelon, grapes, oranges, papaya, sweet mango, melon, dates, figs, peaches, coconut water, juicy vegetables, cucumber, courgettes, tomatoes, buttermilk, soups.

Some foods are distinct in sweetness: dates, maple syrup, licorice, honey, sugar. Sweet does give a lot of comfort, it is like love, so it is easy to indulge.

The affect that sweet tastes have on us

Vata Bodies 

The sweet taste brings much satisfaction to the vata person. Sweet foods are heavy and can be very wet. As the vata body tends to be dry and light in weight, eating a diet with larger proportions of the above sweet tastes supports them. It helps them feel connected to their body. So they come out of their heads, as they feel more weighted and grounded to the earth. The sweet tasting foods makes them stable and it helps them feel safe in their space. 

Pitta Bodies 

For pitta persons sweet is also highly beneficial. Sweet tastes can dampen down a rising fire. A lot of fruits have a sweet watery content. These sweet foods will soothe and cool their internal fire on a hot summer’s day. There can be nothing more delightful, than rich dripping juicy fruits, to drench a hot pitta body and relieve it of any rising irritation. The high water intake in the sweet tastes is recommended highly for both vata and pitta persons as these persons can dry up quite easily. When they get too hot or dry, their emotions and mental state are also affect, so they need to keep the rivers flowing within them.

Kapha bodies 

For the kapha persons, because their body is naturally heavier, they already have a lot of sweetness in them. Kapha persons are most suited to the vegetarian diet. Pulses and lentils are considered sweet tastes. Although they are richer in earth element as opposed to the water element. Dried fruits are also a better option for them, as there is no liquid to add to their rich watery body. If they consume in excess oily, dairy and other dense sweet tastes the passages in their body will become obstructed.

They have to observe what is sensible for them and what they can digest. Otherwise their physical body will increase, and their mental and emotional state will go out of balance. It can increase the emotional attachment, creating a need to be possessive and have greed.

Sweet is addictive, because it is closest taste to love!

Salty Taste

The elements within salt are water and fire. Salt is like a fire starter on the body and mind. We only need a little because it has a powerful action. Salt invigorates us!

NOTE: Please note that all processed, packaged and pre made foods can contain different levels of salt. Please be aware of the daily recommendations of salt as per government guidelines. 

Natural foods with salt tastes:

Mineral salts, like Himalayan rock salt, sea salts, seaweeds, tamari, sesame salt, tamarind, ocean fish, sodium chloride, minerals and cucumbers, celery, courgettes tomatoes.

The affect that salty tastes have on us

Vata type Bodies

As vata persons have a tendency to become dry and rigid; the water content in salt can help their body parts become fluid, soft, moist and loose. The action of salt is antispasmodic; this can reverse the gripping pain that affects a vata person when they have too much air in them. 

Pitta type Bodies

As a pitta person secretes hot enzymes easily, they have little need for a larger doses of the fire element in salt. Too much salt will upset the blood. As blood circulates all over the body, a multitude of conditions can arise because of excessive salt intake.

Kapha type Bodies

Kapha persons also require less salt. However kapha persons can have a tendency to have a salt addiction. When they eat meals, they are strongly attached to tasting salt. With excessive salt intake, salt will also absorb and collect the high fluids, trapping them in the body and cause symptoms or disease. As the sense of taste is strong for kapha persons, and salt overburdens other tastes, they need to adapt them selves and use spices or herbs to invigorate them.  

Salt has a powerful effect on the body, it keeps the body functions regulating.  It can cause problems in excess.  Hence, it needs to be taken with caution!

Sour Taste

The sour tastes have the elements of fire and earth in them. This combination of elements can create an acidic affect on the body and mind.

Sour tasting foods:

Cheese, yogurt, sour crèmes, fermented foods kimichi, alcohol (used carefully in vata persons) miso and fruits like citrus, lemons, vinegar, green grapes, tomatoes, limes, unripe mango, grapefruits, chutneys, amla, tamarind, pickles, oranges, berries, pineapple, onions, garlic, hing, cranberries.

The affect that sour tastes have on us

Vata type bodies

The sour taste is very beneficial for the vata persons. Sour is pungent and heavy, so it brings a sense of warm, calmness and grounding to the vata person. However there is always an exception to the rule and this is with alcohol.  Alcohol has a subtle energy to it, which creates a spacey uplifting feeling. A vata person can naturally be spacey, so alcohol will cause an imbalance to their nature. 

Pitta type bodies

Sour tastes have an acidic effect on the body. This sharpness penetrates deeply into the tissues. For the pitta person it is not a favorable taste to consume excessively. As their minds can become even more razor sharp, meaning in critical sense; Thus this type of taste can burn away at their body and emotions. Drinking alcohol for them can be as effective as drinking petrol. It heats their body too much. 

Kapha type bodies

As sour tastes are heating, some sour tastes are beneficial to kapha persons. As they are have dense body tissue, some sharp qualities such as  ‘a little alcohol’ can be beneficial as it can stimulate their digestion. They do however need to be aware of the dairy produce. Dairy has higher elements of earth, so it is too heavy for them, and it will create problems if they consume daily.

When we eat sour tastes our facial expressions will squint. When things have lost their sweetness, they turn sour. Our emotions can also turn sour when experiences or relationships have lost their sweetness!

Pungent Taste

Pungent tastes have the fire element. They are highly important for keeping our internal fire ignited and maintained. However, pungent tastes vary from cooling herbs to moderately heating to extremely hot.

Pungent Spices:

Very hot: Chilli peppers, cayenne, mustard, black pepper, dried ginger, asafetida, garlic, onions, radishes, horse radish, ajwain

Milder: Cinnamon, cumin, bay leaf, cardomen, cumin, chives, basil, rosemary, thyme,  dill, glove, 

Cooler: Coriander, coconut, turmeric, fresh ginger, vanilla in small amounts, saffron, fennel, cumin, cinnamon, licorice, rose, chamomile, peppermint. 

Vegetables: Onions, peppers, radishes, leeks, jalepeno pepper

The affect that pungent tastes have on us

Vata type bodies

The pungent taste needs to be taken in moderation in vata. The milder and cooling heating spices are more suited. They need the warmth to take away the coldness of the wind in them. If a vata person is eating hot chillies and other very hot spices, it will absorb any moisture in their body, making them very dry and prone to pain. 

Pitta type bodies

As a pitta person has a lot of heat in them naturally, they benefit highly from cooling or some mild spice. If they eat too much heating foods, their blood will become too hot too quickly. The heat in the body can create pitta type physical conditions and it can then spill over into one emotional and mental state. It can make a pitta person jealous, irritable and angry. 

Kapha Type Bodies

The watery heavy type kapha person can enjoy the hot pungent tastes very well. The fire in them can melt the excess liquid they have in the body.

The pungent taste is specifically important for the digestive fire. The digestive fire, supports the entire metabolic system, temperature regulation and our intelligence!

Bitter Taste

Bitters tastes are not the most delicious of tastes. They contain the elements of space and wind. These lighter elements assist in the purification of the body.

Bitter tasting foods:

Turmeric, bitter gourd, saffron, cumin, dandelion root, aloe vera, yellow dock, fenugreek, coffee, leafy green vegetables, salad leaves, green beans and peas, dark chocolate and bitter herbs.

The affect that bitter tastes have on us

Vata type bodies 

Imagine salad leaves or herbs, blowing in the wind. They are very light in weight. So a vata person do not need this extra lightness, as it can make them become even lighter and disconnected from the world. When a vata person wants to eat bitter tastes, it is best that they cook the leafy vegetables and then lather the food with warm oils. 

Pitta type bodies

Bitter taste is made up of the elements of air and space. These tastes have a cooling effect on the body. Nature produces an abundance of these tastes in spring and summer. Bitter tastes are highly good to keep the pitta blood cool and cleansed.

Kapha type bodies 

Bitter tasting foods are highly recommended for anyone whom wishes to reduce heaviness within them. So for kapha people a large variety of bitter tastes are recommended. 

In India the yogis favour bitter tastes as the space element makes them alert in mind, it helps them develop a higher consciousness

Astringent Taste

If we eat vegetables in the raw state, like juicing and salads, then we are experiencing an astringent taste. They have high elements of wind and earth.

Astringent tasting foods:

Raw foods, salads and vegetables

Apples, cranberries, pomegranates, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, artichokes, green beans, cilantro, parsley, oregano, rosemary.

Lentils are astringent, including chickpeas, pinto beans, soy beans, black beans, adzuki beans.

Dry breads, dry crackers, rice crackers, dry biscuits, dry cereal bars

The affect that astringent tastes have on us

Vata type bodies 

Astringent tastes create a strong gripping effect.  Excessive friction can cause dryness.  This can absorb the liquid and cause constipation and affect other parts of the body.  Overall it can cause depletion in them. Cooking the foods and using different oils and spices is recommended when eating these foods. 

Pitta type bodies

As the pitta body can over heat quickly, they need to support the fire element in them. The rough effect of the astringent taste is cleansing for pitta body types. 

Kapha type bodies

As this taste can cause stimulation to the body, it can aid in decreasing body tissue. It has drying effect on the body, so the excessive fluids in the kapha person, can also become reduced. 

The rough texture of astringent tastes scrapes away, cleans and heals unhealthy body tissue!

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