According to Ayurveda, just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, each person has a distinct pattern of energy, a specific combination of physical, mental, and emotional characteristics. There are three basic energy types called doshas, present in every person: vata, pitta and kapha.
Vata, composed of air and space element, vata is dry, light, cold, mobile and clear. Energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and heartbeat. When vata energy is balanced, there is creativity and vitality. Out of balance, vata can cause fear, anxiety, physical and emotional constriction, ungroundedness, poor circulation, constipation, dry skin, cracking joints, insomnia, and muscle cramps.
Vata is pacified by the sweet, sour, and salty tastes. Vata being cold, rough, and dry by nature, needs warm and mushy foods for easy digestion. Eating raw, cold, and dry foods will lead to excessive Vata, causing gas, bloating, and constipation. The warm quality can be emphasized by eating foods that are both energetically warming and warm in temperature, and by using digestive spices. Large quantities of raw vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, and many beans are vata. If you do eat them, cook these foods with generous amounts of olive oil, or ghee and add some vata-pacifying spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and black pepper.
Cooked carrots, melons and milk are sweet in taste. The sweet taste benefits the mucus membranes throughout the body, including those lining the mouth, the lungs, the GI tract, the urinary tract, and the reproductive system. This taste is strengthening, nutritive, energizing, tonic, and soothing to the mind.
Tomatoes, vinegar and lemons are sour in taste. The sour taste is digestive, so it fuels the appetite, increases salivary secretions, enhances the secretion of digestive enzymes, and stimulates metabolism overall. It also expels excess vata, moves stagnation in the liver, encourages the flow of bile, and promotes proper liver function.
Celery and cottage cheese are salty in taste. The salty taste increases salivation, and supports digestion, absorption, assimilation, and elimination. The salty taste nourishes the plasma (rasa dhatu), clears the channels of the body, prevents stiffness, and enhances the spirit.