Written by John Immel,
Need Help Figuring it All Out?
BiocharacteristicsAyurveda is a branch of the biocharacteristics theory of medicine. Your biocharacteristics (gunas) are the twenty most important ways your body reacts to food and disease. The biocharacteristics are also the different kinds of experiences you have being alive. The best way to get started in Ayurveda is by knowing these biocharacteristics. The first 8 are heavy and light, sharp and dull, hot and cold, oily and dry. For example bread makes you feel heavy but salads feel light. Black pepper is sharp on your tongue but cheese is dull. Chilies heat up your body but cucumbers cool your body down. Butter is oily but popcorn is drying. On Joyful Belly we've selected only those gunas that are most useful in cooking. The study of Ayurvedic Pharmacology details all the ways Ayurveda classifies food, herbs, and diseases.
The Three Body Types (Doshas)Ayurveda groups people into three general body types called Dosha. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Your body types describes three basic metabolic patterns of how you use energy. Vata spends energy. Pitta manages it. Kapha stores it. Dosha predicts the symptoms and diseases you are vulnerable to, and gives you a means to restore balance. Vata tends to suffer from deficiency. Pitta from heat disorders. And Kapha tends to suffer from stagnancy and conditions of excess.
The Six TastesIn Ayurveda, nutrition is based on the six tastes (western nutrition identifies only four tastes). Each taste affects your body in a unique way that can make you feel better, or worse, depending upon the person. Bitter is light and drying. Astringent is tightening and drying. Pungent is sharp and dry. Salty taste is liquefying and hot. Sour is hot, liquefying, and heavy. Sweet taste is heavy, gooey, and cold. Every season has a different taste and diet.
DigestionGood circulation, good digestion and well nourished tissue are three cornerstones of good health. By the magic of digestion, when you eat an apple it becomes a part of your body. Whether the apple is hot or cold, acidic or basic, sugary or bitter, the body still has to transform the qualities of the apple into the qualities of a human being. Digestion takes work. Some signs of indigestion include gas, burping, acid reflux, diarrhea and constipation.