According to Ayurveda, when we are in balance, we automatically desire foods that are good for us. But if our mind, body, or spirit is out of sync, our connection to our body’s inner intelligence goes awry.Ayurvedic texts emphasize ahara, proper diet, as vital for promoting health and happiness. Ayurveda creates health by enlivening the body’s inner intelligence to create harmony.Ayurvedic physicians maintain there is no one single diet or food that is healthy for all individuals.
Ayurveda identifies six major tastes we need in our diet every day—sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. Each of these tastes has specific health-giving effects. By including all six, we will be most completely nourished and satisfied. When we consistently eat only a few of the tastes, it not only causes health problems but also triggers cravings for unhealthy foods. For instance, fast food contains mostly sweet, sour, and salty tastes. If we eat a steady diet of fast food, we can develop a craving for sweets. Adding more pungent, bitter, and astringent tastes can help tame out-of-control desires for candy and doughnuts.
Just as important as what we eat is how our body assimilates food. Food is the substance through which we bring nature’s intelligence into our bodies. It’s important to eat foods that you like! Whether a food “makes your stomach turn” or “makes your mouth water” literally affects how completely your body absorbs its nutrients. Dishes that make your taste buds sing a joyful song kindle agni and enliven your body’s inner intelligence.
The ancient Ayurvedic text Sushrita Samhita states, “He whose doshas are in balance, whose appetite is good … whose body, mind, and senses remain full of bliss, is called a healthy person.”