In pre Vedic times sweet taste was very hard to find. Slowly as crops and fruits started to be cultivated, there was sweetness everywhere or in other words we can say there was life everywhere as sweet is an integral part of life.
Why do I need to know about sweet taste?
As we have already discussed that food is at the core of Ayurvedic philosophy and every food has a unique taste which determines the effects it has on the body and mind. Sweet is the foremost in the order of tastes as our existence is dependent on it. Our body is made up predominantly of earth and water elements which is also the constitution of sweet taste. As like builds like, the earth and water elements in sweet tasting foods and herbs help in building up the body. On the flip side excess consumption of this taste will lead to side effects which are discussed later.
From the modern angle it can be understood that building blocks of the body are fats and proteins. Sweet taste includes nourishing foods like carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Anything nourishing is always sweet.
What sweet taste does to my body?
Sweet taste has been praised in Ayurveda as having the following properties·
- Promotes growth-that is why we see children have a natural craving for sweet.
- Life giving – most of the Ayurvedic medicines/foods given to a pregnant lady are sweet.Ants and bees are attracted to sweets as it to some extent prolongs their short life span.
- Nourishes the sense organs.
- Enhances energy and complexion.
- Good for skin and hair – In rural India ladies still apply fresh milk cream on their faces and the glow on their faces is to be seen to be believed .
- Improves voice quality – Singers like to have anything sweet like Liquorice,mishri(crystalline sugar).
- Lends stability to body and mind.
- Wound healing properties – purified butter and honey are excellent non infected wound healers.
- It pacifies Vata and Pitta doshas,so good for predominantly air and fire personalities.
- Good for dryness,thirst and burning sensations.
How it effects my mind?
It gives feeling of contentment,togetherness and happiness.By being aware one can realize these.In excess it builds up inertia,mental blockages.
Is every sweet thing good for me ?
First of all it is very important to understand that sweet does not include only sugary things in which the taste is very evident. Most of the times it represents a very subtle sweetness,as is seen in milk and milk products,cereals like rice and wheat,lentils like mung (green gram),tubers like potato and many more.
Once we have an understanding that the idea of sweetness is way beyond sugary taste,it’s also important to pick and choose out of the available options.
Ayurveda talks about natural sweets like honey ,jaggery, fruits, dairy, cereals etc. All these are having complex carbohydrates which have low glycemic index which means they release sugar very slowly and hence do not exhaust the system.
All the modern day sweets like refined (white) sugar and cereals have simple carbohydratesand are too strong for regular use as they have high glycemic index and overburden the system. They don’t have the above mentioned qualities of sweet taste
What if I have too much of sweet taste ?
If we consume too much of only sweet taste it will lead to
- Loss of appetite
- Flabbiness around the neck
All the above can be attributed to aggravation of Kapha dosha
How it affects my lungs?
Sweet taste brings about heaviness by increasing mucus production and causes diseases like cough and asthma.
How it affects my digestive system?
Sweet taste is heavy to digest so in excess it slows down the metabolism and leads to fatty liver,IBS,jaundice,hypothyroidism and metabolic disorders like diabetes,obesity,hypertriglyceridemia etc.
How it affects my Kidneys ?
It causes stasis and hence accumulation of wastes(urea, creatinine) in kidneys.It leads to water retention or edema.
How it effects my circulation?
It increases the body fluids and causes their stagnation,resulting in coronary artery disease, myocardial infarction,,high blood pressure,deep vein thrombosis etc.
I take too much sweet what can I do?
Try to satisfy your cravings for sweet taste by shifting from refined simple sugars to natural complex sugars,which are not addictive.
Bitter and astringent tastes are antidotes for harmful effects of excess sweet taste so include salads and raw vegetables in your diet.They open up the blocked channels and increase metabolism.
Aim is to bring the body and mind in balance by choosing the right quantity and quality of sweet.