Ayurvedic nutrition - because good food is indulgence and therapy at the same time
In the millenium-old Ayurvedic cuisine, food, herbs and spices are combined in a way that not only offers unique taste experiences but can also provide active health benefits as well as treatment of individual symptoms.
Eating should first of all be fun, an experience of the senses and therefore taste and enjoyment of every meal are of fundamental importance. Therefore, in Ayurvedic cuisine, some important principles are to be followed:
- Instead of industrial processed products, only natural whole foods of highest quality are used. If possible, cook with organically grown products.
- These foods are then combined according to ancient Ayurvedic traditions and recipes and gently prepared.
- Spices play a prominent role here. It is the great variety of well-known and lesser-known spices used here that gives the dishes their distinctive qualities, ensures unique taste experiences and supports digestion.
In addition to the always fascinating variety of tastes, Ayurvedic nutrition has therapeutic medicinal effects, and this is what makes Ayurveda so unique. Above all, high-quality, natural foods, and spices in particular can have a targeted effect on physical imbalances. Whether stimulating, cleansing or neutralizing, each Ayurvedic spice has a variety of therapeutic properties and can even be enhanced by suitable combinations of such spices. Scientific studies have proven beyond doubt the healing effect of individual spices - as for example:
Ginger, which helps relieve nausea and may help reduce oxidative stress.*
Fennel helps eliminate flatulence, supports digestion and soothes the nerves.*
Turmeric has a blood purifying effect and stimulates the formation of new blood tissue.*
Coriander is a digestive agent accelerating and promoting a healthy digestion. They also have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties amongst others.*
Long pepper boosts metabolism and burns toxins.*
These are just a few examples of how spices support our well-being and counteract imbalances.
That is why spices are so important in Ayurveda and should never be missing in good cooking. Moreover, the diversity of spices contribute to obtain the six different tastes that we need for a balanced diet.
Ayurveda and the six tastes
In Ayurveda, there are six tastes, called rasa. However, taste refers not only to the tongue, but also to the reaction of food in the acidic area of the stomach. Wheat does not necessarily taste sweet, but its interaction with the stomach lining makes it sweet.
Some advices about the flavours: Sweet-gives a sense of balance and roundness to a savory dish. Salt-is the natural flavor enhancer as such. It is the most important flavor ingredient to make savory dishes palatable. Acidity plays the next most important role in savory dishes after saltiness as a flavour enhancer, just as sugar does in sweet dishes, adding tanginess and liveliness to a dish. The balance of acidity and other flavor qualities is crucial to the success of a dish. Bitterness balances sweetness and is particularly helpful in taking the heaviness out of a dish.
Our diet today consists mainly of sweet and salty. In the long run, this leads to hyperacidity of the body. A holistic diet ideally includes all six tastes. In Ayurveda, the bitter taste is considered the counterpart to the sweet and can counteract the craving for sweet foods and promote the formation of alkaline in the body. The absence of bitters in the diet may contribute to many health disorders such as heartburn, flatulence, stomach, liver and gallbladder problems, because the digestive system cannot function properly without bitters. Bitters basically purify blood, reduce inflammation, eliminate toxins and water, kill parasites, reduce fatty tissue and decongest the liver. A balanced meal should therefore include bitter and tart flavors, especially if you want to keep Pitta and Kapha in balance. To transmit the information to the body, even small amounts of turmeric, basil, fenugreek, thyme, oregano, nutmeg, dandelion or nettle help. Since bitter has the properties of cold, dry and harsh, vata dosha is increased. An excess of bitter substances can dry out the body and weaken the energy in Vata-strong people, therefore the Vata type should always consume the bitter taste together with something sweet.