The American diet is unbalanced.  It consists of predominantly sweet and sour foods according to MAPI, the Ayurveda health center in Iowa.  As a result, our bodies are unbalanced and we often feel sluggish and unwell.

Bitter foods promote a natural cleansing of the body.  By including some of the bitter taste in our diet, whether in specific foods or herbs like turmeric we are cleansing our bodies each day.

The Six Tastes For Each Body Type

Ayurveda recommends that we include all six tastes in our diets: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, astringent and pungent. Although we need to have some of each taste for balance and to avoid cravings, each body type needs more of some tastes and less of others.

The balancing tastes for each body type are as follows:

  • Vata body type (thin build): sweet, sour and salty
  • Pitta body type (medium build): sweet, bitter and pungent
  • Kapha body type (heavyset build): bitter, pungent and astringent.

A healthy diet for each body type would focus primarily on foods that balance them, but ensuring that the other tastes are represented through spices and seasonings.

What Bitter Foods Do For You

Bitter foods as you can see from above are important for people with medium and heavy builds.  They are less critical for people who are thin.

So what does the bitter taste do for you? According to well known Ayurvedic doctor  Vasant Lad,

  • the bitter taste is anti-toxic. It is antibacterial and antiviral so it helps with cleansing the body
  • the bitter taste kills germs
  • the bitter taste relieves burning and itching sensations and helps with skin disorders
  • the bitter  taste reduces fever
  • the bitter taste improves the firmness of the skin and muscles
  • the bitter taste helps digestion and relieves intestinal gas.
  • the bitter taste dries the system and reduces fat, bone marrow and elimination.
The bitter taste also affects our emotional and mental state. It causes us to withdraw from worldly concerns and become more introspective and less attached. Too much bitter taste can lead to aversion and cynicism.

Bitter Food List

The following is a list of 17 bitter foods:

  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • bitter melon
  • burdock root
  • dandelion greens
  • eggplant
  • kale
  • sesame seeds
  • castor oil
  • sesame oil
  • chocolate
  • dill
  • cumin
  • fenugreek
  • neem leaves
  • saffron
  • turmeric
  • coffee

The Bitter Taste And Sensitive People

Bitter foods are a great way to naturally cleanse the body. It is important to understand your body constitution or dosha to pick the right ones for you. Ayurveda offers insights to help you understand your constitution. One good option to get the benefits these foods offer is to eat the bitter taste through herbs and spices.  To understand more about the doshas to know more about what foods are right for you, check out this article and quiz.

About Maria Hill

Maria Hill is the founder of Sensitive Evolution. She is the author of The Emerging Sensitive: A Guide For Finding Your Place In The World. In addition, she has created the immersive Emerging Sensitive Program of "sensory processing yoga" using frameworks to help sensitive people master their sensitivity and turn it into the asset it can be. She also offers the Emerging Sensitive Movie Club focused on movies and discussions about living in the world as a sensitive person and navigating the challenging cultural shifts of our times. She is a longtime meditator, reiki master, student of alternative health and Ayurveda. Maria is also an abstract painter whose portfolio can be found at Infinite Shape and also very interested in animal and human rights and the environment.