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Your taste buds are talking… are you listening?

Category: Uncategorized
1 December 2010, Comments: 4

My terrible sore throat and honey home remedy gone wrong resulting in a burned tongue have made me appreciate and inquire more about my lovely taste buds. With unlimited food options all around us we have the luxury to pick and choose the foods that will nourish not just our bodies but more so our taste buds. What is the sense of taste? How does it affect the food choices we make? How to treat your buds better?

Taste- the ability to respond to dissolved molecules and ions called tastants

In the west there are 5 basic tastes that we sense:

  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Salty
  • Bitter
  • Umami (savory; recently recognized here in the west)

In the East (Ayurveda) there are believed to be 6 major tastes that feed our body:

  • Sweet
  • Sour
  • Salty
  • Pungent
  • Bitter
  • Astringent

Taste is received through sensory organs called taste buds which are concentrated on the upper surface of the tongue (hence why your taste can be skewed when you burn your tongue).

Although taste is the weakest of our senses, it is still provides useful information for what our body needs. According to Ayurveda and other eastern philosophies cravings for certain tastes are your body’s way of communicating its needs to the director of your life, the brain. By better understanding the root of these cravings you are able to satiate them permanently vs. a temporary chocolate fix.

Food cravings can be the body’s way of trying to correct a chemical imbalance or point to a lack of vitamins or minerals. Craving some foods may indicate a weakness in certain glands, such as the pancreas, adrenals or thyroid. Sometimes this means adding trace minerals or meditation to your diet in order to kick your cravings to the curb.

Sweet is the taste of pleasure and makes us feel comforted and content. However an excessive craving for sweets could indicate mineral deficiency or an overgrowth of yeast, in which case adding minerals or starving the yeast can help.

It may also mean that you are in fact craving less stress , because ice cream and cookies are pleasureful foods they temporarily make us feel better but for a permanent fix try taking a break to relax, exercise, and distress.

Excessive cravings for chocolate may also be a call for relaxation. Chocolate releases a chemical called Phenyl ethylamine (PEA) which is the culprit for the euphoric feeling one gets when in love. It also contains magnesium responsible for stabilizing blood sugar levels and calmness. Instead of grabbing the next chocolate bar, ask yourself if you are looking to relax?

Craving salt? Drink a glass of water instead. When the body is dehydrated it presents itself in salt cravings because salt holds water, unfortunately a bag of chips hardly replaces the water content of 8oz. It may also indicate low adrenal or thyroid function. It may mean your body needs more iodine, potassium or as mentioned earlier, fluids.

Having a balance in all 6 tastes is a sure way or providing the body with all of its needs. Not surprisingly fast foods cater to 3 major tastes: sweet, salty, and sour which temporarily quench the emotional and psychological needs of individuals making fast food extremely attractive. Too bad it’s unhealthy! These are just a few example of how the body talks to you and tells you what it needs. Next time you have a craving take a moment to ask yourself what you really need.

I have been craving cookies, time to sub it for a relaxing yoga class!

Talk to me… What do you crave? Post to comments


Ritu Riyat

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4 responses on “Your taste buds are talking… are you listening?

  1. Randy Cabral says:

    I crave pizza.
    Even bad pizza.

  2. Stephanie says:

    Just found your blog site and love it! I love your blending of eastern and western philosophy and practice. This is a great resource that I’m happy to have run across. Keep up the great work!
    Ross Valley CrossFit

  3. Ritu says:

    Stephanie, Thanks for stopping by! Look forward to hearing from you again!

  4. I understand the first four, but what is “Umami” or savoriness? That’s pretty vague. Even after reading the definition online, I still don’t see it as a real “taste”. Maybe I don’t have many savory taste buds or something.

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