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Healthy Eating with Ayurveda

This month’s Ayurveda and Yoga Workshop at Yogahome is themed around Healthy Eating and follows on from last month’s look at how to improve Gut health.

In this blog I want to talk about the 6 Tastes, Churnas, Triphala herb and Kitchari, a nourishing meal which in the Ayurveda world is considered to be a Superfood for cleansing and detoxing. I have included the recipe for Kitchari, which is a really simple dish to make, that you might want to explore for yourself, or come and try it at my next workshop on Sunday 17th July at Yogahome. Go to to book your place.

What is Ayurveda?

But first a little background on Ayurveda. It began over 5,000 years ago in India and it is the world’s oldest system of natural health care and medicine. It means the “Science of Living”. Ayurveda takes a wholistic view of health, from the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels, addressing the causal level of disease, rather than just treating symptoms. The Ayurvedic system uses the natural tools of herbal medicine, diet, yoga, meditation, pranayama and self-care practices as a way of supporting optimum health and wellbeing.

*In 2004 The World Health Organisation conducted a review of Ayurveda, and their conclusion was that it provides a safe, clinically effective and needed form of health care that serves a large proportion of the World’s population. The last 20 years has seen a growing popularity in the use of Ayurveda in the West, both clinically and in growing research. * Ref:

In his book, “Yoga and the quest for the true self”, Stephen Cope says, “In yoga, the fully alive human being, is created on a daily basis by what we eat, how we breathe, how we sleep, how we move, and what we say and don’t say”.

These are fundamental pillars of good health, yet to keep up with the fast-pace of living, we short change ourselves, as we turn to fast foods, shallow breathe, skimp on sleeping hours, and stay still for hours on end, sitting at a computer. It’s time to transform this chronic way of living by making better choices.

An Interesting Perspective on Taste

We all know that healthy nutrition is based on eating fresh, organic, nourishing foods vs out of the packet, frozen and fast foods. Yet when we make poor choices, our habits around food are often unconscious, are to do with convenience, or, and can be emotionally triggered.

This is why I am fascinated about the concept of Ayurveda’s 6 tastes. Wait! I hear you say, “doesn’t the tongue recognise the 5 basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savoury?” The Science of Ayurveda categorises the 6 tastes as Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, Pungent & Astringent. It has been found that adopting the six-tastes into our meals almost guarantees that we obtain “full body nutrition.”

Taste is an outlet of our inner-intelligence to inform us of the value of food relevant to what we need at any given time. When our appetite is satiated in this way, it reduces cravings and the need to snack in between meals.It also prevents deficiencies setting in, particularly as certain tastes, such as bitter, are progressively absent in the Western diet, the implications of which are weakened immunity, poorer gut function, increased gut toxicity, and inflammation.

Each taste has a specific function and effect on the body:-

- Sweet - helps metabolism and promotes growth of tissues.

- Sour - increases the digestive fire – Agni, appetite and digestion.

- Salt - acts as an appetiser, digestive and Agni stimulant.

- Bitter - destroys toxins and supports the liver.

- Pungent - tastes have a heating quality that regulates Agni and opens up the bodily channels.

- Astringent - foods are drying and reduce mucous or wet conditions of the body.

It is recommended that implementing the 6 tastes in every meal will help to balance the doshas for optimum health.

Balancing the Doshas with the 6 tastes

As we start to recognise how the qualities of the Doshas start to show up in the body, then we can begin to incorporate tastes that will bring balance.

When we are full of cold and mucous or have sinusitis, which are Kapha qualities, exacerbated by Earth and Water elements, the Pungent, heating foods like onion, rocket and ginger, stimulate Agni, remove blockages and obstructions in the body.

Heartburn, or acid reflux is a sign of Pitta imbalance, characterised by Fire and Water elements, Pungent tastes and foods will aggravate the heartburn or acid reflux but be alleviated by Sweet, Bitter and Astringent tastes.

Bloating, gas, constipation, shows up as a Vata imbalance, which is characterised by the elements of Air & Ether. Salty, Sour and Sweet foods will help to bring Vata back to balance.


This system of looking at the different doshas and the effect that different tastes has on each one, acknowledges the fact that we are all different. Everyone Digests, absorbs and assimilates nutrients at incredibly different speeds and in different ways. Everyone has specific genetic profiles which predisposes them to over or under- synthesise any given nutrient – this is also greatly influenced by lifestyle choices.

When we begin to apply this way of eating, we can start to choose foods that will help our digestion and pacify any imbalances. It helps to make meal planning and cooking a much more conscious act, after all it is so easy to fall into the same habits and patterns of eating. You can see in the table below the different categories of tastes, their actions and how they can affect the Doshas.

A good resource to check out your Digestive Dosha is, Bayan Botanicals website.

Aiding Digestion with Churnas (Herb & Spice mixes)