Tongue is a tantalizing part of the human body. Though it is scientifically proven to perform numerous significant tasks like cleaning the teeth, phonetic articulation etc, the predominant function of the tongue is often associated with gustation and the taste buds. Drinking and eating are highly essential for survival and every single time the food that we intake is encountered first by our tongue, which helps us identify the real taste. This is the entry point that decides the quality and nature of the food or medicines that we ingest. Ayurveda, the noble Indian science of healing had described about six different tastes of our food and insists that our diet should be a balanced proportion of all the six tastes for a healthy living.
Importance of tongue in identifying the basic tastes: Tongue might seem very simple to us but you will be surprised to know that there are about 8 intrinsic and extrinsic muscles. The basic tastes that are identified by our tongue are bitterness, saltiness, sourness, Umami, sweetness and metallic taste. The cell membranes and the receptors on the taste buds play a vital role in recognizing the unique tastes. I feel like saying ‘What a splendid Scientist, Genius, Master, Physiologist and Inventor our Creator is!!!!’
Super six tastes of Ayurveda: The ancient healing system known as Ayurveda defines six tastes for harmonized living. They are sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. Ayurveda states that ‘the sense of taste is the natural guide map for a balanced nutrition’. This heavenly method of healing humanity says that each and every taste has a unique mechanism for nourishing our body, mind, spirit and senses gradually.
Most of the times the taste of our choice determines our personality and a popular adage that witnesses this statement is ‘We are what we eat’. Tasteless items are not at all considered and the booming restaurant industry proves the importance of taste since ages. According to Ayurveda, the six tastes are derived from the five vital elements. The significance of the six Ayurvedic tastes are as follows:
- Sweet: This taste is derived from the combination of earth and water. It is present in food items that are rich in carbohydrates, amino acids, fats, sugars, oils, milk and milk products, fruits, beans, and certain vegetables like beetroot, carrot and cooked potatoes. This taste has a heavy, oily, moist and cold characteristic. It is popularly known for building tissues of the human body.
- Sour: Sour taste is a combination of fire and earth. This taste in present in fermented food products, citrus fruits and vegetables with acids like ascorbic acid. It stimulates digestion by fortifying the digestive fire. It is hot, moist, oily and light in nature.
- Salty: It is derived from the fire and water elements having a moist, heavy and hot nature. Salty taste is found in sea salt, rock salt, refrigerated sea foods, salted nuts, pickles, chips and certain vegetables like kelp and seaweed. It calms the nerves, enhances digestion, supports in waste elimination and brings down anxiety and fear.
- Pungent: Being derived from air and fire elements, this taste is light, dry and hot. Pungent taste is a part of onions, garlic, ginger and chili peppers. It supports trouble-free digestion, reduces muscular pain and boosts circulation.
- Bitter: Bitter taste is a combination of ether and air. This taste is cool, dry and light in nature. It is found in spices like dandelion root, turmeric, fenugreek, green leafy vegetables like bitter guard, spinach, egg plant etc, Tea, coffee and olives also taste bitter. It has excellent detoxifying properties that aids in treating skin rashes, weight reduction, fever, water retention and much more.
- Astringent: This is a combination of the earth and air elements. Astringent taste is found in beans, potatoes, raw honey, resins, tannins, cranberries, cauliflower, broccoli, pears, turnip and few other spices like marjoram and turmeric. It is slightly cold in nature and purifies the tissues of the body.
Wow! Is all that I have to utter here as it’s really amazing to know the tastes that are good to our health. Hope our blind eating would stop here and help us start a healthy Ayurvedic diet with a combination of the all these six essential tastes.