Better Health with the Tasty 7 Foods
Eating food is an intimate experience that can be loaded with many colours, smells, textures and taste along side both negative and positive food memories. What to eat is often motivated by cravings & taste over any zeal to take in all of the seven possible flavours. But, does it really matter? Is there a place for every flavour on the menu? For certain the seven flavours, bitter, fatty, sweet, salty, sour, pungent and astringent in our food can provide both pleasant or unpleasant sensations in the mouth with varying intensity. Why do these flavours exist; do they serve some purpose? Well, as it turns out, different tastes in food, touching the tongue, chewed and swallowed activates within the human body different effects. Lets have a look at some of these ‘effects’ on a quick journey through the seven flavours & their participation in the act of eating. You may discover something new about how taste can activate change in body chemistry and function from the moment the taste is detected in the mouth.
In the North American diet, salty, fatty and sweet foods most commonly pass the lips, trailed by spicy, while bitter, astringent & sour foods are more often avoided. The exceptions are usually encouraged by cultural or inherited tradition. But anything from fad diets, fitness goals, metabolic & digestive disorders and beyond influence what foods routinely enter into the mouth of individuals’ worldwide. Taste preference is just one motivator, yet tastes on the tongue the effect is immediate and the benefit or challenge begins from mouth down into digestive system all the way to the cells, and what goes out of the body. You may see that food eaten in balance is a savvy way to activate your greatest potential! It may be a matter of taste in ways you never before imagined. The tongue is intelligent and it is part of the first tissues to greet what comes into the mouth. The tongue is important for tasting food for more than just pleasure. Taste sensitivity is a defence against swallowing harmful agents. If the tongue is injured, for example by puncture, the tongue will heal much more quickly than an injury to skin on the arm or leg. There are always microbes as well as impurities piggybacking on food; be sure to clean all food, and store well. The human tongue has taste receptors for fats, sweet molecules, salts, sour foods, pungent or mild to intensely spicy food, puckering astringent and bitter foods. Each taste provides information on safety for ingestion, for signalling digestive effects, for stimulating elimination as well as for pleasure and memory stimulation. The mouth is designed to process temperature, texture, shape, dissolubility, identify what is unsafe as well as help in the breaking down food in the mouth. Balance in nutrients support a smooth functioning of the body. Tongue tissue responds to food independently of the memory reaction from the brain, and once food is detected on the tongue and its unique properties identified specific body processes are activated, readying the rest of the body to receive what is swallowed. Foods to ingest include vegetables, sea vegetables, herbs, spices, fruit, seeds, nuts, organic animal and/or vegan protein sources, complex carbohydrates, pulses, beans and clean supplements. There is great variety in food choices, but to understand that food is for nourishment, repairing, energizing, cleansing lets take a look at each of the seven tastes. The first taste of the tasty 7 is bitter foods. Bitter foods can be powerful agents to stimulate digestion, strengthen a weak constitution, correct blood sugar issues, reduce cravings, to cleanse the digestion and blood ways. Bitters, the first of the magnificent tasty seven!
Bitter is an essential flavour in the culinary arsenal for healing and vitalizing the whole body. The bitter taste in foods arise from alkaloids (bases). Bitter foods detected on the tongue tend to bring an instant grimace to the face, however down into the digestive tract, secretions of digestive enzymes start flowing, bile production needed for fat breakdown is stimulated, as well as a healthy appetite. Eating bitter foods decrease sugar cravings, assist with blood sugar regulation while increasing satiety. Along with promoting fat oxidation, some bitters expel parasitic worms. Excellent bitter food sources are bitter melon, radicchio, rapini, endive, arugula greens, dandelion leaves (blood purifier, helps lower high blood pressure), dandelion tea, organic coffee (pesticide free), dill weed (natural antibiotic), sesame seeds (high in calcium), Jerusalem artichokes (contains inulin helping with blood sugar regulation), kale (detoxifying), saffron (antioxidant), wormwood tea (purges worms, reduces sugar cravings), curry spices, turmeric (fresh most potent). Bitters support healthy liver flow & function, bile flow. Bitters are essential life giving foods that certainly stimulate a strong response on the tongue; they sort of wake up the person and support what the body is trying to do every day, and that is detoxify. Add bitters to your meals and beverage selection and reap the benefits.
Astringent foods are interesting and surprisingly powerful agents of healing. Astringent foods bind with proteins of mucosa in mouth to create a coating of protection, astringent foods oppose swelling through its contracting effect, as well simultaneously reducing inflammation. Do you know anyone suffering with inflammation? Perhaps you? The canal from mouth to anus is lined with mucosal cells, secreting a clear fluid for moisture, gliding, and immunity protection. Often mucosal tissues include nerve networks that have neurotransmitters activating and regulating essential processes for living. Good digestion and intelligent communication with the central nervous system are two sides of the same coin. Astringent foods naturally bind with proteins of mucosa creating a coating of protection inside lips, mouth, throat, trachea, bronchi, bronchioles and alveoli of the lungs, as well the esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine, uterus, rectum, anus, bladder and urethra in both men & women. Mucosal tissues act as a barrier to invading microbes, ulceration, internal bleeding and functions as a barrier to pain. The contracting effect of astringent properties in specific fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices oppose swelling and inflammation, help prevent and heal leaky gut, as well as spider and varicose veins. Astringent foods include asparagus, avocado, brussel sprouts, chickpeas, green banana, carrot, cabbage, raw cauliflower, green beans, lettuce, legumes, pomegranate, parsley, peas, rye grain, quinoa, poppy seeds, and ink nut (Haritaki); astringent herbs such as basil, dill, saffron, turmeric, bay leaf, fennel, caraway, oregano, coriander, rosemary, marjoram, and nutmeg are common herbs found in local grocery and health food stores.
Salt detection on the tongue is an essential opportunity to absorb trace minerals necessary for innumerable enzyme and cellular functions. Check your salt to be sure it is either good quality sea salt or Himalayan salt, as these are natural salts that do not require heavy chemical processing for human consumption. Sea salt and Himalayan salts contain sodium chloride along side some 82 to 84 different trace minerals. Trace minerals are necessary for enzymes to work in the human body. Trace minerals sodium & potassium control optimal pumping in and out of fluid in all cells through the body. A pinch of sea salt for example in an 8 oz. glass of pure water can absorb through the mucosal tissues in the mouth and lining of the stomach to provide trace minerals for metabolic functions within seconds. In contrast, table salt has been heavily processed and contains no other trace minerals other than sodium chloride unless ionized, which would provide only one other mineral, iodine, artificially. Trace mineral intake helps reduce sugar cravings, because sugar cravings occur either from mineral deficiencies and or innate and foreign microbe overgrowth eating up trace minerals before you can. Natural healthy salt food sources such as sea vegetables, beets, celery, spinach, chard, sea salt, and Himalayan salt are good choices over processed salts or foodstuffs. Salt is antibacterial so using a salt water rinse for the nose called Jala Neti can reduce allergies, clear the sinuses, improve smell sensitivity for the enjoyment of food smelling and taste.
Pungent foods such as buckwheat, cardamom, cayenne, chilies, cinnamon, cloves, cumin, garlic, ginger, leeks, kohlrabi, mustard greens and seeds, onions, black & green peppercorns, paprika, radishes, raw spinach, thyme, turmeric, turnips, sage, spelt, and wasabi stimulate circulation, digestion, elimination of mucus and impurities; help clear sinuses & remove stagnation. Pungent foods promote sweating and relieves chills. Foods that rate higher on the Scoville chart should be eaten in moderation to avoid burns or ulcers in tissues of the digestive tract. The Scoville chart is a guideline for the amount of capsaicin in a particular food, particularly, chilies. Capsaicin is a compound that when eaten or if applied in topical treatments reduce muscle and joint pain. Spicy foods are rich in bioavailable vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids that help protect the body from free radical damage. As well, spicy foods reduce the appetite, thin the blood, help with cholesterol levels and stimulates metabolic activity, supporting an increase in calories being used. Pungent foods spice up any dish or drink! For those who dislike plain water try adding a squeeze of fresh lemon and a pinch of cayenne pepper to the water and feel the benefits!
Sour foods include apple cider vinegar, vinegar, carambola (star fruit), goose berries, green apple, tart cherries, cranberries, grapefruit, kefir, kiwi, kombucha, kumquats, lemons, limes, oranges, pomelo, pickles, rhubarb, sauerkraut, tamarind, unripe mango and yogurt. Sour foods help to cleanse tissues and improve mineral absorption, although the exception to this would be dairy yogurt, as most countries allow various levels of pus in dairy products. Delicious dairy free probiotic yogurts are available in stores; as well there are many easy nut and coconut yogurt recipes to be made in your own kitchen. Sour foods illicit a strong reaction on the tongue & make the face squint owing to their acidity. This puckering is an instinctual response designed to alert that the food could potentially be poisonous or rotten; this happens automatically. If the sour food is “good” or healthy a reward signal is released in the brain creating a pleasure sensation. When looking to create a feeling of satisfaction when eating reach for the grapefruit or pickle or add another sour flavour into the meal.
Oh those sweet foods! Who does not love the boost of body energizing sweet foods?! Eat sweet foods in moderation, as excessive sugar intake causes water retention, adds excessive acidity in the body, leading to tooth decay and overgrowth of unhealthy microbes through the digestive tract. As many people know artificial or chemically altered sweet “foods” are not the same as nature’s natural sweet foods. Sweeteners such as agave syrup and corn syrup are concentrated, missing that buffer against insulin spikes as original fibre components have been stripped away. Be aware that constant high insulin spikes in the blood system reduces insulin availability. Nature’s fresh organic sweet foods are the best choices for an “easeful” life since they contain fibre, antioxidants, essential oils, trace minerals, vitamins & other micronutrients. Healthy sweet foods include carrots, beets, apples, berries, pears, apricots, dates, plums, ripe mangos, durian, dried fruits, melons, ripe bananas, lychee, rambutan, coconuts, passion fruit, ripe pineapple, as well herbs such as angelica, lemon balm, lemon verbena, chamomile, bee balm, mint and edible flowers like fragrant wild roses and bright violets. Meats are part of the sweet foods group as animal meat can be processed as carbohydrate for energy production. The body does not store excess protein and excess consumed animal flesh can be stored as fat. There are many plant-based proteins available but check for purity. Avoid neurotoxic artificial sweeteners! Nature’s organic sweet foods come in an endless variety of bright and deep colours that give clues to alkalinity & particular nutrient waiting to burst out and tantalize the tongue and nourish the body! Sweet foods provide components for energy production in the body; choose quality organic and fresh sweet foods, best with fibre intact, to build a high functioning body and a sharp mind.
The human tongue is able to detect smooth and satiating fats beyond texture alone! The Journal of Lipid Research published an article on December 31, 2011 (doi: 10.1194/ jlr.M021873) that discussed a specific protein found on the tongue able to detect fats. Rightly so, fats are back up fuel when carbohydrates are scarce! Humans are able to distinguish between fats being triglycerides or free fatty acids in the mouth. Fats in the diet are essential to brain integrity and function, mood, hormone production, cellular wall integrity, energy production, protects vital organs, helps maintain core body temperature, and help to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E & K as well fats bring a feeling of satiation and well being. The presence of fats in the diet lets the body know it is safe to burn excess fat. Healthy fats that are organic and minimally process build health and promote a feeling of steady energy. Healthful fat omega 3 fatty acid comes in three forms ALA, DHA & EPA. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) comes from eating plant source foods such as chia seeds, flax seeds, flax oil, hemp seeds, raw walnuts and gooseberries and from meat source such as grass raised beef. ALA can be ingested and the body will synthesize it into DHA and EPA for brain and body tissue repair and growth as long as omega 6 fat acids are not over abundant in the diet. Too many Omega 6 fatty acids inhibit ALA synthesis into DHA & EPA. The most abundant Omega 3 fatty acids are found in the human brain in a form called docosahexaenoic acid or DHA, but it is also found in skin, retinas, sperm and testes. DHA sources include fish oils and the vegetarian source, algae oil. Be careful to find pure clean sourced supplements from companies that have their product independently tested.
Omega 3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) & EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid come from from sea foods such as salmon, tuna, halibut, and cod liver oil.
Omega 6 fatty acids (LA, AA & CLA) are to be eaten in moderation. LA (linolenic acid) omega 6 fat food sources include nuts, eggs, chicken, wheat, numerous vegetable oils, walnuts, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts, shortening containing breads, cookies, sweets and crackers. AA (arachidonic acid) and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) are found in mainly meat and dairy. The ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 should be prioritized 1:1, respectfully. Avoid the Standard American diet that consumes an imbalanced Omega 3 to 6 ratio of 1:50. Consuming too many omega 6 fatty acids in the diet increases headaches, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, psychological disorders, inflammation and diseases there of. To correct such an imbalance there may need to be an intermediate period of omega 3s out numbering omega 6s such as 3:1, respectfully.
Avoid hydrogenated oil, rancid oils exposed to sun or heat or oils past due. Throw out heavy processed oils, fried or deep-fried oils, as these are all trans fats. Plant and animal fats that are trans fats lead to imbalance and disorders if eaten. Taste sensitivity in the tongue is decreased from eating trans fats. Trans fats have an altered shape, are misshaped or broken, they no longer fit in receptor sites of cells. Such “twisted” fat, either block cells from receiving healthy fats or they float around fluids in the body causing tissue damage. Antioxidants and white blood cells have to clean up the glut of unusable fats floating about or partially stuck to receptor sites.
Omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory; omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory. Be aware that some inflammation as a response to tissue injury is normal and part of the healing process. All to often too many Omega 6 fats in the diet is the culprit causing excess and chronic inflammation and pain. Next is Omega 9 fatty acids found in olive oil, pistachio nuts, cashews, almonds, sesame oil & pecans. Omega 9 fatty acids must be broken down in the liver in order to be used in the body. Insufficient omega 3s leads to depression. If eating meat, grass fed animals have lower omega 6 levels than corn, wheat & soy fed animals. Lower omega-6 content in food being consumed reduces inflammation and pain in the body. Commercial animals farmed for food tend to store antibiotics and hormones given to them in their fat; the same is true for humans. Eating animal flesh with fat simply delivers into the human consuming it, whatever chemicals the animal could not process. All fats eaten in the diet require a healthy liver that is producing bile for fat to be broken down and used. Bitter foods and herbs help improve liver function and bile production. Examples of healthful fats mainly come from plant sources such as avocados, raw nuts and seeds (ex. chia seeds), also cacao and cacao butter, coconuts, flax seed oil, coconut oil, borage oil, cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and avocado oil. Fats are to be eaten in moderation; fats are deeply satisfying and healthy fats are a good source of fuel for the body to think, work and play.
Incorporating all flavours into each meal or at throughout each day creates satiation and promotes wellness. By ingesting all 7 tastes, digestion is fully stimulated, and leads to balanced nourishment and body tissue vitalization and detoxification. Eat with moderation using whole fresh organic food, herbs and clean supplements. Insults by food create emotional as well as energy disturbances. Imbalanced eating leads to blockages, stagnation and instability in all areas of life including personal health, mental clarity, relationships and business success. Eat simply, with ease, and gratitude, using intermittent fasting, along side breathing exercises, pure water, as well as gravitational resisted training, mindful stretching, meditation and proper sleep. The “tasty 7”, eat them all! They create and restore magic in the whole being. Incorporate new tastes into meals to ensure liberation from all bonds that cause hindrances, heaviness or decay. The body is intelligent but the mind requires education. Sometimes we must empty awareness from the ideas emoted by others to discover reality of and in itself. May all beings everywhere be happy and free. Namaste.