Tuesday, July 12, 2016

When Taste Trumps Nutrition In Medicine

In Ayurveda many of the principles of nutrition rely on the tip of your tongue, specifically your taste buds.  While our taste buds identify tastes, they also provide the initial start to the digestive process which is designed to give fuel and nutrients to our body.

There are six tastes; salty, sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent.  Ideally we should include all of the tastes at each meal.  However, the quantity of each taste should be determined by our body (dosha) type.  Each of the body types has their own elemental make up, and the taste that has the opposite elemental effect is better for the body type.  For example, kapha individuals who are made up from the elements of water and earth are already grounded and stable.  The tastes of sweet is made from earth and water.  Thus, sweet has the same elemental make up as kapha.  Eating too many foods with the sweet taste would cause kapha to become heavier and more stable.  Really, kapha needs to lighten up and enjoy the tastes of pungent, astringent or bitter.  Remember kapha can have some sweet but it should be consumed in lesser quantities and only to balance a meal with all the tastes.

A recent study has found that the taste of pungent can hamper the neurological misfires that cause muscle cramps.  It used to be thought that fluid and electrolytes can stave off muscle cramps but many scientists are now finding that the cramp originates in the nerve and not the muscle.  Therefore, the firing off of the nerves that cause the muscles to cramp needs to be stopped.  The taste of pungent foods like hot chilies and ginger do this.

The scientists associated with the study found that the nutrition of a substance did not reach the muscles as the blood content of the participants remained unchanged after consuming certain strongly flavored foods like pickle juice or cherry juice.  The important factor was the pungent taste of the item. Further, the really pungent foods like ginger or chilies worked the best.

In Ayurveda the taste of pungent is made from fire and air, giving a dry, light effect. It helps to stimulate digestion, metabolism and circulation.  The heavy qualities of kapha do very well with this taste, but the other body types can become imbalanced if they consume more than small amounts of pungent.  The scientists in the study used the pungent ingredients only to shock the system, not feed an athlete or a cramp sufferer.

The scientists in the study have created their own pungent drink made from chilies and ginger that come in small 1.7 ounce bottles, but you can create your own pungent taste from real food that you find in the grocery store.

It is interesting to think about what other healing we can give our body by just focusing on taste.

Stay healthy & well,

No comments:

Post a Comment