Hey Angels and Alphas,
When we think about fueling our body properly for a sport or a workout, we often become fixated on the correct number of macronutrients – proteins, carbs, and fat.
But somehow, we forget that our bodies must be functioning at their best in a variety of other places in order for us fuel properly.
For thousands upon thousands of years, our bodies have been guiding us as we navigate what’s poisonous and what’s nutritious.
In ancient Ayurvedic medicine, each of the six major flavors we taste is associated with a nutritional value our bodies not only want, but require.
That’s why it’s helpful for us to understand what our bodies are longing and asking for, what we’re tasting and intuiting as we’re consuming food, and how each food
that has a place in our diet is benefiting us in the long-term. Meals give us all the tools our body requires to hydrate, digest, detoxify, recover, grow, and balance.
And each of the six tastes – sweet, sour, bitter, salty, pungent, and astringent – have their own functions in both traditional and ancient medicine.
Let’s explore the 6 tastes in depth and discover what they’re doing for us and our bodies.
Healthy foods that taste sweet include fruits, veggies, and natural sugars. They help us calm our nerves and rebuild body tissues. And that’s why after a long day of work
or adrenaline-pumping sports and exercises, when we challenge ourselves physically and emotionally, our bodies start craving a sweet flavor.
Most often, when you experience a sweet craving, you’ll relate it to desserts, candy, and other sweet treats. But if you look beyond that and start choosing healthier alternatives such as fruits and grains, as well as veggies such as pumpkin, carrots, and beets, you’ll realize that sweetness doesn’t have to be unhealthy – far from it.
If you’ve ever experienced dehydration, you know how badly that can make you crave salty foods. This is also true when our bodies are full of lactic acid. These salty flavors can also help us completely change the taste of a food.
Foods that are flavored salty not only help lubricate and re-hydrate your tissues, but they also help digestion, as well. The foods that quickly come to mind when we desire salty foods include salty chips and processed fries and snacks, but like we saw in our sweet example, healthy alternatives are always there to be enjoyed. Think in terms of sea veggies, salads with flaky salt, don’t forget that even French fries can be okay in moderation.
Sour foods have been related to detoxifying the body, increasing the absorption of vital minerals from the food we eat, as well as aiding the lymph system.
You don’t really see anyone “craving” sour foods all of a sudden, likely because this craving is hard to detect most of the time. However, when we add sour flavors inside our diets, we start to notice when they go missing. Yogurt, sour fruits (like lemon and lime), and fermented foods are great examples of super healthy foods that can quench a sour thirst. Sour is very important to our foods and drinks, which is why only a few squeezes of lemon can change the entire taste of a meal for the better.
Have you ever found yourself craving spicy food? If the answer is yes, what you were really craving were pungent flavors. These flavors stimulate your digestion, eliminate waste and toxins from the body, and they may be linked to boosting metabolism.
Chili peppers, herbs, and garlic are all pungent, and they’re all staples in a healthy diet that has you performing at your best inside the gym and outside of it.
Bitter flavors can be great for helping you detoxify. They’re also linked to reduced inflammation. This flavor isn’t really one people crave, but if you ever find yourself just wanting to grab a salad, this could be one reason – all the leafy greens, herbs, and spices in salads are often associated with the bitter flavor.
Moreover, any leafy greens become nutritional superstars when they can be topped off with other flavorful herbs, simultaneously exciting and calming your nervous system.
Are also great examples of tastes not often craved, but this doesn’t mean they’re less valuable. Raw fruits, legumes, veggies, and some herbs are all astringent in their flavor, and they help our bodies absorb water, remove waste, and reduce inflammation in the body.
Bringing it all together…
When you’re putting together your plans for each week, just be conscious of the proportions of tastes you’re putting in your food. The more tastes you can fit in one plate, the better. Go for ingredients that can calm you (sweet), rehydrate you (salty), help you digest (pungent), and more.
On top of that, if you’re able to provide enough protein, carbohydrates, and fats to keep yourself going and growing, you’re doing it right.
Adding some almond butter on top of a cookie might sound a little too out there, but that’s one way of giving your body exactly what it craves. It’s not only the ingredients in our food that are keeping us going, but also the tastes and flavor experiences they’re creating in our bodies. Flavor can help turn your meal – whatever it looks like – into an adventure.