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Sweet – an essential taste in Ayurveda

Sugar is not love, but it can feel like it. Ayurveda, the 5000-year-old ancient science gives a big nod of agreement to that thought! While everybody carries an opinion and follows a philosophy about eating sugar, Ayurveda believes, the ‘sweet’ taste itself is essential and not toxic to the body.


Sweet is one of the 6 essential tastes or raas. Other than the physical knowing of a variety of ‘tastes’ on our tongue. Raas also refers to the emotion that our organs feed on through various tastes. Now travel back to the memory of being fed something sweet when you cried over a bruised knee.


Amongst the 6 essential tastes in Ayurveda, sweet is cooling in nature. It increases kapha and helps calm pitta (heat) and vata (air) disorders. It reduces bleeding and burning sensation, it hydrates, nourishes the tissue and works as a natural aphrodisiac. Sweet or Madhura in Sanskrit, is used as a medicine in eye related conditions. It reverses the sensation of vomiting or nausea, heals ulcers and wounds, and is very helpful in treating certain asthmatic conditions. So the raas of sweet is not bad, it is essential for certain body-mind functions.


What is the most suitable form of consuming sugar?

If used intelligently, sugar’s quality of providing an instant energy spike is extremely helpful in certain situations e.g., when climbing a mountain or to stop someone from fainting. Sugars derived from sugarcane is classified as Guda or jaggery. When it is prepared by boiling the treacle to 1/4th, it is considered at its best form. New methods of refining sugar though allowing for easy manufacturing, diminishes the medicinal property of sugar. Understanding the process of deriving sugar will help you know the forms which go under least processing and hence are safer or healthier to use. Some of these examples are Jaggery or gur in India and Pakistan, muscovado or khand, turbinado or partially refined brown sugar, rapadura used in Central and Latin America or piloncillo in Mexico.


Clockwise from top left: Muscovado, Turbinado, Rapadura and Jaggery are healthier derivatives from sugar cane and are safe to use in moderation instead of the white crystal sugar.



“The most suitable way to consume sugar is as one of the ingredients in a dish or or as a part herbal formulation to balance doshas (your individual bio-energies)” advices Dr. Naresh Perumbuduri, Senior Ayurveda Physician at Ananda.


Does sugar cause inflammation?

New age dietetics would certainly indicate so. In their observation, higher sugar intake is directly correlated to people with higher inflammatory changes. This is true when you consider a sizeable population suffering from inflammatory disorders like endocarditis or pericarditis, tooth decay etc., these people do tend to consume more sugar. But as per Ayurveda, people with Pitta body types (strong fire element with energy of digestion and metabolism) are generally prone for inflammatory reactions. By nature, they are always high on energy and sustain these energy levels through consuming high calories. So while studying a group of people with Pitta dominance, invariably you get a more positive correlation with higher sugar intake to higher inflammatory changes. Overall however the Ayurvedic principle is that sugar reduces inflammation !



A delicious recipe with good sugars - figs and parfait-poached figs with pineapple compote and blueberry puree.  Download the Ananda cuisine app and get started on healthy sweet indulgences


But, an intense and unreasonable craving for sugar has reasons rooted in the emotional body too. Dr.Roma Singh, spiritual hypnotherapist and regressionist at Ananda tells us, “The inability to find satisfaction and joy in life often turns us into feeding more on sweet carbohydrates or sweet forms of instant gratification like candies, or drinks high on sugar syrups. Fundamentally all addictions are similar”.  


“Blaming one food ingredient as causative factor for disease manifestation is clearly ignorance, a balanced lifestyle is a state of equanimity in feelings, actions and thoughts, without which it is of no use even if the person drinks the nectar”, concludes Dr.Naresh. 


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