Rasa and dietetics

Foods promote growth of the body and repair and its waste yield material energy for muscular and brain work, yield heat: regulate body processes and make reproduction possible. According to the modem idea, fuel and energy foods are carbohydrates, fats and proteins; foods that build the cells are proteins and salts, while regulators of body processes are minerals and vitamins. On this idea many concentrated and highly valuable foods have been discovered and there is so much written on the subject, yet the modem doctor usually feels something missing when he tries to prescribe adequate diet to a patient. Ayurveda fills up this gap to a great extent by prescribing tastes – sweet, sour, salt, pungent, bitter and astrin­gent. For health of the entire system, all the tastes are necessary but their use is to be adjusted in diseases.

Sweet taste:

All cereals, milk, butter,  oils, sweets, meat, egg, bone marrow, banana, dry fruits, fruits  of sweet taste as apple, grape, sugar cane, potato etc. According to modem knowledge   proteins, fats and carbohydrates are included in sweet taste.

Sweet  taste  articles  enrich nutrient fluid, blood, flesh, bone marrow, bone formation, vitality and semen. It relieves thirst, and heat; gives complexion to skin, hair; gives strength to sense organs and it is liked by bees and ants.

Too much use of sweet taste articles causes fatness, softness of muscles, lethargy, hypersomnia, weakness of gastric fire, cough, cold, constipation, vomiting, mucus, sweet taste the mouth etc.

Sour taste:

All citrate fruits as lemon, orange, prunes, peaches, pomegranate, tamarind, mango etc.

Sour taste gives relish to dishes, stimulates digestive fire, helps in building up body cells, invigorates heart, produces salivation, conducts the food downwards and moistens the food.

Too much use of sour taste articles increases thirst and heat, causes watering in the eyes, vitiates blood and causes edema in emaciated and debilitated patients. On account of its acidity it leads to  suppuration of inflammations and wounds. It causes all round burning sensation in throat, chest and heart.

Salt taste:

This includes sodium chloride, soda bicarb, black salt, ammonium chloride, leafy green vege­tables also have a salt taste as they contain more salt.

Salt taste articles are diffusive, digestive, laxative, curative of stiffness, help in removing obstruction and accumula­tion of toxic matter, liquify mucus secretions and give relish to food.

Much use of salt causes heat and thirst, impairs the function of sense organs, forms premature wrinkles and grey hair.

Pungent taste:

This includes pepper, chillies, ginger’ cinnamon, cloves   black pepper, asafetida, onion, etc.

Pungent taste purifies the mouth, increases gastric fire, causes watering from the eyes, sharpens  sense organs, curative of intestinal sluggishness, edema and  obesity, eliminative of excretory matter, dilates passages, removes mucus.

Too much use of pungent articles causes emaciation, giddiness, burning sensation, heat, and destroys libido and reproductive tissues.

Bitter taste:

This includes karela (bitter melon), neem, chirata, dandelion, artichoke, etc.                                                

Bitter taste is appetizing, purifies blood, curative of burning, itching, thirst and dermatosis. Very useful in inflammation and suppuration, skin diseases and diabetes.

Too much bitter taste will dry nutrient fluid, blood lymph etc, and it effects the nerves as well as reproductive tissues and can cause impotency. (so really enjoy those kale chips daily!!)



In winter appetite is increased on account of increased gastric fire due to flow of blood to internal organs, hence  take  sugar,  fats,  oils,  wheat,  rice, milk, oil massage, warm water, sun bath. Avoid cold drinks, restricted diet, pungent, bitter and astrin­gent  articles when one is quite healthy.



After winter sun rays become hot, and heat liquifies the matter in the body. This is why people suffer from cold, fever etc. Hence eliminative procedure is useful. Avoid excess use of sugar, fats and oils. Add pungent, bitter, astringent. Physical exercise is very helpful.



Increased heat of the sun dries up the body fluid, hence foods and drinks that are sweet, cool, liquid and unctuous are good. Ghee, milk, curd, sugar, old rice and old wheat are preferred.



Digestive power is weakened hence moderate diet is preferred. Old honey is very useful.

Avoid watery and demulcent drinks, day sleep, sun bath.



After it rains heat is increased. Ghee with bitter articles is very good.

Avoid exposure to sun.

Light and Heavy Food Articles

Light articles: Light articles stimulate gastric fire and satisfy hunger and thirst.

Rice, green gram, salt, barley, milk, honey, fruits, vegetables,

meat juice, soup, butter-milk, sago, ghee in small quantity, cooked rice soaked in cold water for about four hours etc.

Heavy articles: Heavy articles are roborant and increase tissues.

Wheat, black gram, butter  or ghee, cream, cheese, meat, egg, fish, pastry, puddings, dry fruits, dates, nuts etc.

1. Hot food invokes digestive fire.

2. Ghee excites inactive  gastric fire.

3. Eating measured quantity according to one’s digestion does not disturb digestion.

4. Eat only after the digestion of previous meal.

5·. Masticate well and avoid talking and laughing while eating. Eat with due concentration.

6· Eat in a clean place.

7· Do not eat in an enemy’s house.

8. After a meal chew cloves, cardamon, betel nut, or fennel, to enhance digestion and give fragrance.

9· After meal rest or walk gently (it is said 100 steps); sitting posture is not good; do not move in fast vehicles.

10. When there is fatigue after physical exertion always take rest and then take meal.

Effect of measured intake and good diet

I. No discomfort in stomach and heart.

2. Subsidence of hunger and thirst.

3. Sense of ease in health and standing, walking, lying, breathing etc.


Harm of Inadequate Diet

I. Deficient diet causes impairment of strength and vitality.

2. Eating solid in excess in addition to drinks irritates the stomach and doshas, and causes disorders. ·

3· Untimely eating of heavy, cold and dry things causes disorders.

4· Eating unclean and incompatible articles are harmful.

5. Eating when mind is affected causes indigestion.


Harmful Diet

1. Food not consumed according to gastric fire.

2. Combination of ghee and honey in equal parts.

3· Drinking hot water after taking honey or eating warmed/cooked honey.

4· Use of cold and hot things at a time as ice cream and tea or ice water before a hot meal.

5. Eating cold things after taking fat preparations as cold drink after fried foods.

6. Food under cooked or over cooked or burnt.

7. Sour things with milk or food unpleasant to taste.

8. Juice/food that is of unripe, over ripe or putrified substances.

9· Half curdled curd.

10. Dry vegetables, except radish, or vegetables that have been stored for a long time

11. Potato and mushroom are unfit for regular consumption

To relieve any harmful effect, purgatives and emetics are taken for quick relief.

When digestion is great and gastric fire is very strong and the individual exercises regularly, any diet can be taken without any harmful effects, but when the digestive fire is weak or the person is of sensitive nature, the harmful effects of inadequate diet will manifest. At first, the symptoms of disorder manifest in the digestive system as  indigestion, constipation, gastritis, diarrhea, etc. Afterwards, other organs are affected due to sluggish liver and inadequacy of kidneys.

Disease is seen after the pre-symptoms and symptoms have already manifest.


Foods and Qualities

1. Rice – Sweet, cooling, diuretic, unctuous, forms con­densed and scanty stools.

2. Barley – Sweet, cooling, dry, increases stool, elimi­nates mucus.

3· Wheat – Sweet, cooling, unctuous, heavy, vitalizer, roborant.

4· Horse gram – Sweet, dry, hot, eliminative.          .,

5· Green gram – Sweet, dry, cooling, light.

6. Black gram – Sweet, heavy, aphrodisiac.


Pulses cause flatulence and are dry, hence must be taken with pungent, salt and ghee.

1. Green leafy vegetables – Eliminative, laxative and digestive.

2. Cucumber – Powerful diuretic

3. Karela (Bitter gourd) – Stimulates liver, purifies  hi         .

4· Potato – Hot and dry, hence should be taken with ghee.

5· Onion – Not hot nor cold, Kapha increasing, appetizing, relieves flatulence, aphrodisiac. 

6. Garlic – Hot and appetizing, tissue revitalizer, aphrodisiac, promotes oily secretions, digestive and laxative, heavy to digest, good for voice, enhances pitta and blood, tissue tonic, good for the complexion, brain tonic, good for heart problems, chronic fever, abd. pains, constipation, intestinal growths, loss of taste, cough, edema, hemorrhoids, skin diseases, indigestion, deepen/pachana, curative of worms vata diseases, kapha diseases, dyspnoea, dermatitis and leprosy.

7· Bottle Gourd and Luffa (Loki and Toroi) – Cooling

8. Lady’s Finger – (okra)-Demulcent, eliminative and nutritious.

9· Tomato – Blood purifier.

1. Apple – Sweet and cooling, very good in diarrhea.

2. Orange – Acid and cooling.

3· Fig – Nourishing and laxative.

4· Mango – Hot, stimulates liver.

5· Pomegranate – Astringent, curative of phypersecretion of mucus, inflammations and hyperemia.

6. Dates – Heavy, hot, roborant, beneficial in wasting and trauma.

7. Grape – Sweet and cooling, quickly relieves thirst and burning in fever.

Meat Juice – Most nourishing, increases semen and complexion.

Milk – Vitalizer, very good in fatigue after fasting, traveling, lecturing etc. Best after meal. Goat’s milk helpful consumption. Buffalo’s milk induces sleep and Cow’s milk is preferable.

Buttermilk (takra) – Light, useful in assimilation and digestive disorders and suppression of urine.

Fresh butter – Digestive, astringent. Useful in trauma, anorexia etc. Refrigerated butter has different qualities

Curd – Appetizer, digestive stimulant. Immature curd delays digestion.

Sesame oil – Relieves discomforts of flatulence and pain. It used for gargle and holding increase sense of taste and the strength of teeth as well as many ears. nose, and throat disorders.

Inflammatory conditions

In inflammatory conditions, the principle is to give dry and eliminative diet with less sugar avoiding hot and acid things. Such a diet helps to reduce the tension and inflammation.

Take whole wheat bread, barley, unpolished rice, green gram.

Take all vegetables with less potato.

Fruits in less quantity. Roasted horse gram about 2 to 4 ounces daily and water as little as possible.

Avoid. milk, ghee and their preparations and citrate articles.


Triphala ghee

Procure triphala ghee

Mix and take with a cup of warm milk or water at bed time daily or twice a week.


Assimilation Disorders

Symptoms – Large  quantity of stools, bitter and acid eructations, thirst, loss of strength, heaviness and loss of appetite.

Treatment – Purgation, fast, drinking water with lemon.

After elimination, light food with digestive stimulants, buttermilk, fruits and build digestion back slowly.

Persons who pass dry stools with difficulty should take ghee with salt in the midst of meal.

When digestion is weak eating of garlic with oil, ginger with salt, or asafetida with ghee before meals.

Increased appetite and gastric fire

Milk pudding, ghee preparations, dry fruits, wheat preparations.



Water should be drank only when one is thirsty. There are many types of water and there is another post on them on this blog.

If thirst is due to heat, give water with sugar and lemon, milk, etc.

Thirst due to rich food is quenched with jaggery and water.

Thirst due to high fever is quenched with dry prunes.

In anaemia, abdominal diseases, coryza, catarrhal conditions, urinary diseases, weak gastric fire, diarrhea, drinking water In the least quantity is helpful. In such cases coriander water with honey or  sugar is very good.

All in all water which is boiled and allowed to come back down to room temperature is best.



Stomach-intestine wash is a Yoga shatkarma process to keep the body fit, free from most of the physical and mental ailments especially in old  age.

1. Drink  3 or 4 glasses of lukewarm water (about 2 litres) to which common  salt has been added  to make the water saline. Then  stand  with 6o degree angle, put the fingers.in the throat and  try  to vomit.  If vomiting does not take place then leave it.  If  vomiting has taken place then drink one·or two glasses of  warm saline more.

2. After that do not rest in the bed. Walk and try the fol­lowing  exercises with ease so that saline may pass down quickly and easily.

a.  Stand with the feet about one foot apart, raise the hands up, clasp them together and side bend/moving the hands from side to side. The muscles of the abdomen will be felt stretched.

b. Stand about one foot apart, raise the arms at right angles to the body and move the body/arms in semi-circular direction, about ten times.

c. Lie down on the abdomen, palms on the ground, then raise the head and chest and look upwards towards the ceiling­ repeat about ten times.

d. Stand about one foot apart with a bent body and move the muscles of the abdomen forward and backward. After each exercise walk gently and repeat again till you feel to pass motion. Ater about half an hour there will be solid clear motion.

3. After that motion again drink one or two gales of warm saline water and again repeat the above exercises. This time there will be semi-solid motion after about half an hour.

4. After the motion again, drink one or two glasses of warm saline water and repeat the exercises. This time there will be a yellow liquid motion with sufficient mucous in it.

5. Again drink one or two glasses of warm saline water and repeat the exercises. This time there will be watery motion with yellowish tinge in it.

6. No more to drink. There will be a feeling of dryness in the system.

7· After about two hours waiting until you feel quite hungry take rice flour well cooked into water. Add a tiny bit of cumin powder and a small amount well pulverized fresh ginger. It should be a thick liquid consistency like a puree.

The next meal, when hunger returns later can be of kitchari. It is a preparation of 2 parts green gram (mung beans) pulse and one part of rice. Add to it at least two ounces of ghee, mix well. Eat very slowly.                         

8. If you start at 6 a.m. then about six hours will be spent in the whole process. Do not take curd or milk or anything else until the next day. Do not drink cold water and do not sleep till the the evening at bed time although the body feels tired. Rest for the rest of that day and do not do anything strenuous. Stay warm.


16 thoughts on “Rasa and dietetics

  1. As a hypothetical question, what happens if someone is forced to eat little in the winter season by either religious precept (e.g. eating one meal a day) or due to lack of resources as would be the case of a very poor man? What if a spiritual aspirant is living off alms and receives such foods as are contra indicated in the winter? Rice and beans or spicy foods or bitter foods. Does the digestion function differently depending upon the amount of meals that one consumes in a 24 hour period?

    Most of the year I was habituated to eating 1 large meal in the morning and then fasting from staple foods till next morning and I felt great. Now here we are in winter and out of fear of doing improper regime I find myself overeating occasionally thus feeling heavy and “dark minded” and very much wish to go back to eating one meal. Is this feasible if one eats a single heavy meal rather than a single light meal? I don’t want the nutritive fluid to be consumed, if that’s how this even works…

    • As for a monk or priest begging for alms that is a different time that hardly exists at all anymore so it doesn’t even make any sense to have that question in the first place. It doesn’t exist where you live does it? Also back in those times A monk would not be be given a Big Mac.
      Need to keep everything in context.

      The question of being forced to eat a little and winter is fine. Of course it’s going to affect the body and the mind. Everything is taken on an individual basis. If the person is not eating enough the Agni will devour the system. Vata will be aggravated. What else this will do in the system is dependent upon the individual. It will create disease in its different way per person.
      Say someone has tikshna Agni and they are vata pitta prakriti? Vs. someone that is kapha vata prakriti with manda Agni?

    • One meal a day is meant for a yogi or a sadhaka, or sanyasi. It is not meant for someone in the Munding world with their mind going constantly had a crazy pitch with all kinds of energy being expended from that. Remember excessive thinking is one of the main causes of vata aggravation. For a mundane person to try to follow that for whatever crazy reason, it’s a great way to lead them into disease. Age is also a very big factor and that is why someone cannot take sanyassa until they are 50. See how all of this works together? It’s very very obvious when you understand the big picture of it all which we don’t really have in the rest of the world and it’s only found in India and understood in the cultural context. It’s very obvious interweaving of the knowledge in looking at the four different stages of a life.

    • To eat one heavy meal is incorrect because it’s even doing worse to the system. In the western way of looking at it we’re putting enough nutrition into our system for the day but that’s not how this works you’re throwing one big log on to a kindling fire that is going to be put out by it

    • So if a meal has 1 heavy or “nutrient dense item” and one light item, does this digest properly in winter compared to a meal with all light items?

      Right now I’m picturing agni in the winter as a pressure plate whereby one must eat heavy enough foods to activate it so that it doesn’t consume rasa, perhaps this is wrong?

    • https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.js
      https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsSo I can in the wintertime is actually high. It needs a new activation it needs to be fed because it’s a big fire. The cold presses all of the heat in to the body deeply and because of this it gets very hot. Or should if someone has decent digestion. But I don’t see that a lot. What I see is a lot of really bad messed up digestion for most people. If that fire is not fed Agni destroys the tissues instead which causes vata to go up or get aggravated. The biggest problem with what I see how people tend to take I are Veda is you’re not seeing how everything works together and you’re trying to see how it is in a linear way and nothing is linear within I are Veda or any of the Vedic sciences it’s complex and this is hard to comprehend for a lot of people. It’s a different paradigm. I could say it this way just because coffee goes up it doesn’t mean that Vata goes down. So we can have a high kapha and high vata in fact that’s pretty much the most dangerous combination because to bring one down you use the opposite and that will increase it. So you see it’s much more complex than that. This is also not Ayurveda at all because we’re not talking about the tissues in the sthana, etc. etc. etc. it doesn’t just come down to Vata, pitta, and kapha. Also within this all three are with indigestion and they work together with indigestion so it is much more complex than just saying oh does this work in this way and winter time. This is the hard part about trying to teach real Ayurveda. Jyotish is the same way. And also highly bastardized in the Western world.
      You wouldn’t have just one heavy dense mixed with one light in a meal. You would have all constituents. From heavy to light. Ayurveda does not do mono diet stuff. If you look at an Indian meal like a Thali platter, that is a proper meal.

    • Right, I’ll just stick with cows milk for now then…keep it simple : )

  2. Hi, thank you so much for your valuable articles! I enjoy reading your blog. It would be helpful if you could answer this question: I am a Vata-Kapha person. Through the second half of the year, when windy and cold conditions prevail, I eat vata-pacifying foods and feel good. From January though, I start feeling heavy. But when I switch my diet to more light and bitter tastes, I start experiencing vata aggravation again in the more of spaciness, dry skin, constipation, etc. If I pacify my vata, I start feeling mucus congestion. What do I do? There are few foods (especially grains) that pacify both Vata and Kapha. I am from India, and eating grains like Quinoa and Amaranth (which are V- K-) is not sustainable. Please help.

    • Hi.
      Need to do an intake, not enough information as well as not responsible to give comments about ones health unless very general things. This is why I have asked for people to not ask for personal health related questions. A proper diagnosis is needed. Your health is not just s simple answer, Ayurveda does not work that way. For one very easy example, I have no idea on this planet where you live also where you were born. If your Indian I am guessing India but leaving India is going to effect your health and if it is a totally different place like Minnesota in the US, obvious things need to be taken into consideration. This is just one small piece. So please, do not ask for free advise here. You want to do a consultation, great. I also don’t walk around asking people to do what they do for a profession for free for me. I expect the same respect. Thx

    • Got it. Sorry, I should have read your services page more carefully. But do consider not being rude or offensive in your replies. Sometimes, readers solicit advise due to lack of adequate information or desperation. Even if they are wrong to do so, the requirement comes out of respect and regard for your knowledge, and not to exploit or freeload. All the best to great blogging! Thanks!

    • Have you read his article on rtucharya? Follow the winter regime. I’m not a trained ayurvedic practitioner but I’ve been experimenting with the winter recommendations and have noticed that exercise, oil massages, sexual activity and salty and sour foods seem to help relieve the heaviness. Hot lemon water is excellent in late winter : )

    • Who’s? Of course those alleviate the heaviness and they all get rid of kapha and aggravate vata. Wintertime you build kapha and you build strength and with this what is seen in the west as immunity. Springtime is when you burn the kapha all out. That is Ayurveda, from the texts and understanding of what they are teaching. I don’t care what anyone else writes. There’s so much junk out there with ideas of things in the markets that are being written by people that don’t have any deep understanding of anything I can name off many names right now I even know of a book that was written by a woman Happy Belly, and she’s not even certified I are Vedic western person. Nor was she educated and ayurveda. How can that be? She’s not the only one. I next teacher of mine just wrote a book as well. And she was never trained properly either. Fake lineage and everything. Guru syndrome. All of this to say that there’s all kinds of superficial books written out there on the market. Three season diet another one. Why does anyone have to re-write a book on Ayurveda when we have the original text to study? Except I think the answer is obvious when we look at the world and see the level of intellect. Example…. http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5443/7-Ayurvedic-Experts-Give-Us-the-Scoop-on-Juicing.html
      All of this article is bogus. Could write why and use textual reference for it…. but why? Who cares?

    • I was referring the woman who asked for your advice to perhaps view your article on rtucharya. I figured it’s helped me maybe it could help her

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