How To Improve Your Digestion Naturally

 

Improve Your Digestion Naturally
( Agni Tea. Photo by Emma Eckert www.radiantmoonchild.com )

In Ayurveda digestion is referred to as agni. Agni is your digestive fire and it is the first line of defense against illness. So tending to it properly is crucial to overall health. When you first light a fire, you don't smother it with large logs, but slowly add kindling until it starts going. Then when it comes time to put it out, you let it burn out on its own. Digestion works in this same way.

Ayurvedic Supplements For Digestion
Good health depends on strong and efficient digestion.

When you first wake up, you should begin your day with a lighter meal, slowly building up your agni. Then around noon, it should be working at its hottest. This is when you should eat your largest, heaviest meal. For dinner, eat something of moderate substance. If you were getting ready for bed, and putting out the fire, would you place another large log on it? No. That log would not burn completely and wouldn't be consumed until the following day when a new fire is started. That being said, late night snacks and large dinners work in the same way. Your digestion is slowing down for the night, so any foods consumed too late wont be digested properly.

How To Naturally Heal Low Stomach Acid - Dr. Josh Axe 

Top five natural remedies to follow to naturally improve your stomach acid are:
1. Apple Cider Vinegar (Take one tbsp before meals & with digestive bitters for optimal results)
2. Digestive Enzymes (1-2 capsules before meals)
3. HCL with pepsin (only consume with protein in a meal, please advise your physician)
4. Manuka Honey
5. Lifestyle change: chew your food, eat smaller meals, and try intermittent fasting
- Source: Dr. Josh Axe 

 

Four Main Types Of Agni 
There are four types of agni:

  • Tikshna Agni [sharp/strong digestion]
  • Vishama Agni [variable digestion]
  • Manda Agni [slow digestion]
  • Sama Agni [balanced digestion]

 

Tikshna Agni
Tikshna agni is strong digestion. Someone with this type of agni experiences a very strong appetite. Even though it is strong, it isn't beneficial. This type of digestion over processes foods, stripping it of it's nutrients. Due to over processing, people with this type of agni usually suffer from malnutrition. If they skip meals they become irritable and lightheaded. Oily and spicy foods upset their systems and can lead to loose stools. In order to help balance this type of digestion, stick too cooling foods. You can garnish your meals with lime, cilantro and coconut flakes. Usually in Ayurveda snacks are frowned upon, but for this type of agni, snacking is good. Just make sure you're not eating oily nuts. Try cooling cucumbers or other vegetables.

Organic Cooling Pitta Spice Mix
Organic Cooling Pitta Spice Mix features coriander, cardamom and turmeric.

Vishama Agni
Vishama agni is variable digestion. People with this type of digestive fire can skip meals. They'll get wrapped up in an activity and simply forget to eat. When they do eat, they tend towards gas and bloating. The best way to help balance this type of digestion is through a regular eating routine. Don't skip meals. Make sure the food you're eating is well cooked and not raw. Warm foods are best, such as soups. For those of you who really struggle with gas, hingvastak is a great remedy. It's a powder that you can sprinkle on everything you eat, and because it's a carminative, it helps alleviate gas.

Organic Vata Churna Calming Spice Mix
Organic Vata Churna Calming Spice Mix is a blend of seven ingredients, including cumin, ginger and fenugreek.

Manda Agni
Manda agni is slow digestion. This can show up as a slow starting appetite, where true hunger doesn't appear until later in the day. People with manda agni tend to emotionally eat, and may never experience true hunger. After eating they feel tired and sluggish. First and foremost, if you have this type of digestion, only eat when you're hungry, even if that's not until noon. To help kickstart your hunger, try drinking a warm glass of lemon water first thing in the morning. Once you do feel the need to eat, stick to well spiced foods. Avoid sweets, dairy and other cooling foods.

Organic Kapha Churna Stimulating Spice Mix
Includes ginger, coriander and turmeric.

Sama Agni
Sama agni is balanced digestion. These people wake hungry, but don't have an overbearing appetite. They have no issues digesting any kind of food. This is the type of agni we all strive to achieve, and once we get there, we need to keep it in balance.

 

10 Tips To Help Improve Your Digestion:
No matter what type of digestion you have, the following list is important to follow in order to keep your agni healthy.

1. Begin your morning with a glass of room temperature water.
This helps clean out your digestive tract from the day before. Overtime, this will encourage a morning bowel movement. This helps ready your digestion further. If you aren't defecating first thing in the morning just yet, sit on the toilette after drinking your water. This will help train your body to poop before breakfast.

Copper Cup
A real ayurveda classic. Fill the cup with water in the evening, leave it to stand overnight and drink the water the next morning. In ayurveda this water is particularly highly regarded because it is said to have a purifying as well as a balancing influence on Pitta dosha. From a scientific point of view, the water has absorbed pure copper, which in this form is an essential mineral for the body.

2. Only eat when hungry. 
This is crucial. Don't eat until you experience true hunger, even if that isn't until noon. If you dump food onto your digestive fire which isn't burning hot yet, this food wont be digested properly. This undigested food becomes toxic sludge which leads to sickness.

3. Eat slowly and chew your food.
In today’s fast paced world we are prone to rushing threw everything, our meals included. Eating too quickly leads to overeating. Sit down and eat your meals without any distractions. It's also important to fully chew your food. Attempt to chew at least twenty times before swallowing. This allows for easier digestions.

4. Eat without distractions.
No facebook, twitter, instagram or even magazines. If your energy is focused on reading, it wont be focused on digesting.

5. Don't drink too many liquids during your meal.
Drinking too much during a meal dilutes your digestive fire, leading to indigestion. Take small sips while you eat and resume normal liquid intake thirty minutes after you've finished your meal.

6. Avoid iced drinks.
While we're on the topics of drinks, don't drink anything with ice in it! This dulls your agni and makes digestion harder. Stick to room temperature or hot drinks. This includes any liquids throughout the day, not just during meals.

7. Practice proper food combining. 
The list of proper food combinations is long, so we will stick to the most common. For example, don't drink milk with fruit. It's very common to eat fruit with yogurt, don't do it. Fruit should be eaten by itself. Stick to one type of protein at a time. This includes beans as well. So don't go mixing beans with eggs. In fact, beans and eggs shouldn't be eaten with cheese either (sorry all you Mexican food lovers).Nightshades (ie. tomatoes, eggplants and potatoes) shouldn't be eaten with dairy products. And lastly, don't cook with honey. Heating honey makes it toxic. So if you're going to add it to a meal, do it last, and make sure your food is out of the oven and off the stove.

8. Eat melons alone or not at all.
This one is so important it deserves a space of its own. Don't eat melons with anything! So no fruit salads unless it's all melons or no melons.

9. Eat your heaviest meal at lunchtime
As stated above, this is the time of day when your digestive fire is at its strongest. So instead of eating your biggest meal for dinner, as we Americans tend to do, eat it for lunch. Also, lunch is best consumed between eleven and one o'clock.

10. Eat your last meal, or snack, at least four hours before going to bed. 
We talked about this earlier. You don't want to fill your belly up with a lot of food and then go to bed. Your body wont digest it. So try to eat dinner at least four hours before going to bed. Believe it or not, waking up feeling sluggish can be caused by late night eating. If you're like me and tend to get "hungry" right before bedtime, opt for a warm glass of milk. You can spice it if you'd like. Just be sure to avoid nutmeg if you're prone to constipation, as it is a binding agent.

About The Author
Lizzy Straba
Lizzy Straba is based out of Albuquerque New Mexico, and offers Lifestyle Consultations and private Ayuryoga®  instruction. One of Lizzy's main goals is to provide Ayurveda to everyone. Lizzy succinctly explains, "It's super easy to feel like we're not good enough or that we don't fit into a certain mold and in turn deny ourselves something life changing. I want you to know that you don't need to be a yogi or a vegetarian or even a spiritual human being to benefit from the knowledge of Ayurveda. All you need is a willingness to improve your health."

To contact Lizzy Straba please visit her home page: Rogue Ayurveda  


Gut Health & "Ama" [Toxins]

 

Gut Health & "Ama"
Over the course of a lifetime, we ingest roughly 50 tons of nutrients and our ability to properly digest these nutrients determines to a large extent the state of our health. “Ama” is a concept of Ayurveda which can be best understood as the accumulation of toxic metabolic by-products at various levels of physiology. More simply, ama is the by-product of poor digestion and according to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda - ama is the root cause of nearly all diseases.

Ayurveda states that proper diet and optimal digestion are the major pillars of good health. Similarly, optimal function of the GI tract requires proper mucosal integrity and a balanced microbial ecosystem in the gut. In essence, “gut health” relies on “good bacteria”. Any compromise to the mucosal integrity and/or disturbances in the bacterial flora in the gut may give rise to what’s often considered “leaky gut syndrome” - the epitome of ama. Ultimately, the absorption of poorly digested food material [“ama”] along with toxins from the environment blocks the physiological channels at various levels and therefore undeniably becomes the root cause of disease.

Top 7 Foods For Healing Leaky Gut - By Dr. Josh Axe 

The top 7 foods to get rid of leaky gut for good are:
1. Bone Broth
2. Kefir or fermented yogurt
3. Fermented vegetables
4. Coconut oil
5. Wild caught fish like Salmon
6. Flax seeds
7. Steamed vegetables or vegetables in the crockpot
[broccoli, cauliflower, celery carrots, cabbage or squash are all great]

 

Digestion - At Various Levels:

At The Level Of Gross Digestion
Poorly digested food in the GI tract creates a thick and slimy substance which then lines the walls of the bowels and impedes the absorption and assimilation of nutrients; i.e. malabsorption.

At The Level Of Cellular Digestion
Metabolic process of cellular digestion [i.e. oxidation] along with external impurities [“gara visha”; exogenous toxins] such as pesticides and pollution can create physiological by-products which are damaging to the cell. For example, free radicals [“ama visha”; reactive ama] and the accumulation of toxic metabolic by-products are known to be the cause of aging and disease and collectively may be referred to as “ama” from a cellular perspective.

Rasayana - Nature’s Greatest Antioxidant!!
According to Ayurveda, Amalaki is considered one of the most nourishing and rejuvenating herbs. Amalaki is a strong natural antioxidant containing high levels of vitamin C and acts as a powerful immune strengthener. Amalaki is one of the best sources of natural vitamin C and contains 20 times more vitamin C than an orange.

Premium Amla Berry
Works as a powerful antioxidant for people of all ages which supports the mind, eyes, heart, skin, and digestion; helps growth of muscle tissue by promoting nitrogen balance; promotes cellular generation; supports lungs and natural immunity.

Amrit Kalash: Full-spectrum antioxidant:
Traditional ayurvedic formula of 13 herbs that supports the health of mind, brain, and nerves; increases vitality and inner strength; powerful antioxidant — research shows it to be up to 1,000 times more effective than vitamins C and E.

At The Level Of Mental Digestion
Similarly, unprocessed thoughts, feelings, and emotions can also become “mental ama” which may then crystallize and manifest as stress in various physiological expressions; i.e. depression, hypertension, etc.

Stress Free Emotions
For natural resistance to emotional stress and fatigue; promotes emotional balance, positive feelings, and feelings of fulfillment.

Worry Free
Calms the mind and emotions; supports clarity of mind and deeper sleep; natural support for everyday stress and tension.

Blissful Joy
To help uplift the emotions; helps balance emotional ups and downs; alleviates sadness and feelings of frustration.

 

Management Of Ama
According to Ayurveda, the management of “ama” first begins with identifying the cause. Often the treatment of “ama” is simply adjusting to a proper diet and lifestyle suitable to one’s needs. For example, “ama pachana” - which is the ‘burning off’ of ama and  can often be done by the use of certain spices and herbs - with supervision of a qualified Ayurvedic Professional.

Spice Selections To Improve Digestion
Ready-to-use spice mixtures satisfy the six ayurvedic tastes considered essential for balance.

"Prevention Is Better Than Cure."
Although simple, these principles if followed routinely are often enough to help improve digestion and overall health. It’s often the simple things that are most effective and oddly enough - most overlooked. That said, let’s quickly take a look at the basics.

Avoid the following common causes of “ama” 
– overeating and consuming cold substances
–  irregular eating habits
– overconsumption of raw food
– eating heavy and fried food
– incompatible food combining
– eating with extreme emotions [i.e. anxiety, stress]
– sleeping before food is properly digested

Trikatu
The Digestive Herbal Formula

Another great consideration is Trikatu - a formula combination of equal parts ginger, black pepper and pippali. The name trikatu means three peppers or the three pungents. It is a wonderful herb with strong digestive properties.

 

The Ultimate Detox - Panchakarma
The word “Panchakarma” comes from the classical Ayurvedic texts and literally means ‘five actions’. These five actions of panchakarma are a broad class of therapy used to help remove impurities [“ama”] from the body.

 

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.


Simple Tips For Healthy Digestion

Simple Tips For Healthy Digestion
In Ayurveda, the oldest system of holistic medicine, perfect health begins with perfect digestion. Ayurveda speaks of Jatharagni (digestive fire), located in the stomach, as being the primary location where either health begins or disease. According to Ayurveda mostly all diseases start in the digestive system; this includes mind since the mind is transforming information by nature. The digestive fire is like the furnace in a house. If it’s not properly working then the house will suffer its consequences. Linked to digestion, according to Ayurveda, are all the other organs that are part of a sequential process that digests food and takes in the essence of food that nurtures every cell on every level, not just physical.

11 Simple Tips:

1. Eat 2-3 meals a day.
Breakfast (I’m sorry to say) is meant to be the lightest meal of the day. We are “breaking fast” from having had our last meal at least 12 hours prior. Digestive enzymes aren’t yet fully available as the morning time is when the body is starting to typically awaken (those of us that have normal schedules) and the body hasn’t enough momentum until we are fully up and about, getting our juices flowing. If we aren’t hungry for breakfast, this is the meal would could skip and have a cup of tea in its place. Lunch is meant to be the main meal of the day since the stomach enzymes are at its’ peek as is the Sun. If we skip this meal, this is when we are more likely to have hormonal imbalances, digestive imbalances such as cravings and/or sugar crashing, along with affected sleep. From my experience with my clients and from the stand point of Ayurveda, simply adjusting the meal situation of the day corrects numerous health conditions. Dinner is “supper time”, also known as the supplemental meal. I say that this meal should be around half the volume of lunch.

2. Eating schedule.
Breakfast should be no later than 8/8:30. Lunch, between 10 and 2. Preferably around 12 and at least 3-4 hours after breakfast. Dinner no later than 7:30/8:00. The later the meal, the lighter it should be.

3. Cold and Ice.
According to Ayurveda there’s a saying “hot water is the nectar of life and cold water is the poison.” Avoid cold beverages and ice. Cold compromises our immunity, depresses digestion and affects our nervous system. Ice is even worse and in Ayurveda, along with Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ice was only meant to be applied topically for wounds, burns and fevers. It was never meant to be taken internally.

4. Sipping hot water.
Sipping hot water throughout the day supports a) hydration b) digestion and 3) lymphatic drainage. Sipping hot water with meals is ideal. When I say sip, I mean simple. Sipping is different than gulping. Taking in too much of liquid with meals can dilute the digestive enzymes. Whereas, sipping supports digestive enzymes. Your last bite and last sip should be coupled together. Wait at least one hour after a meal to drink anything.

5. Snacking.
Ayurveda suggests that we don’t really snack or at least treat the in between times as though it’s an opportunity for another meal. Usually, we misunderstand cravings for snacks for hydration and that the body is trying to tell us to drink more water. The mechanism in the brain for hunger and thirst are the same. If you’re feeling hungry again, drink a glass of hot water and wait 15 minutes. If you’re still hungry, then eat a light snack. If you’re not hungry, then it’s because you were thirsty.

6. Snoozing/Napping.
Avoid napping right after a meal. Actually, take a walk for about 15 minutes to shake off the lethargic feeling that tends to follow after eating. Napping after turns off digestion and keeping it moving after eating stimulates metabolism.

7. Eat Seasonally.
If it’s warm out, eat cooling foods. If it’s cold out, eat warm foods.

8. Greens/Veggies.
Eat salads/vegetables after the meal versus before. This is clean eating and supports cleansing of the digestive tract and increasing healthier bowel movements.

9. Dessert.
Best to eat an hour – hour and a half after meals. Right after causes the digestive  system to shut down.

10. Sitting.
While eating meals, it is best to do it seated. Standing while eating stresses digestion by forcing the food out of the system due to gravitational pull. Humans weren’t meant to eat like horses.

11. Focus.
While eating it is best to be focused on digestion rather than eating while on lap tops, TV watching or cell phone perusing. Digestion and mind are connected. If mind is distracted, so is digestion. This can increase imbalances such as cravings and instability in the nervous system. Put down the cell phone. Turn off the TV. Leave the lap top in the other room. Enjoy eating. One bite at a time.

About The Author: 
Vishnu M.Ayu, BA Psy., LMT, CSP, E-RYT, CS2, is a licensed massage therapist with more than 15 years of experience and Master’s of Ayurveda/Yoga from Hindu University of America. He is the owner of ‘Hidden Health’ Center and offers Ayurveda out of a few locations. To learn more about Vishnu and his practice you can find him at hiddenhealthcenter.com

Disclaimer:
This information is strictly for educational purpose only and not considered medical advice. Always first discuss with your primary care physician before considering any new health regimen.

 


Emotional Eating - An Ayurvedic Perspective + Tips To Cheat Your Cravings

Emotional Eating - An Ayurvedic Perspective

 “Food nourishes the body; love nourishes the Soul.”
- Dr. Vasant Lad, Ayurvedic Physician

 

"Emotional Eating"...
Overeating may occur occasionally and often due to various reasons. However, overeating often takes place because of emotional factors. From an Ayurvedic perspective, when there is undue stress or other emotional factors this can increase the uncoordinated movement of ‘prana vata’ within the mind. This increased movement of prana can then stimulate the gastric fire [Agni] - which produces the “experience of hunger”. However, this experience of hunger may not actually be real but rather an emotional craving for nourishment [i.e. love].

 

What Am I Hungry For?
In a recent book, ‘What Are You Hungry For?’, Dr. Deepak Chopra creates a vision of weight loss based on a deeper understanding of why people overeat. Dr. Chopra explains the underlying reason for overeating often is - “because they are trying to find satisfaction and wind up using food as a substitute for real fulfillment.”

Dr. Deepak Chopra - How To Break Free Of Emotional Eating

Practicing Body Awareness. "Every time you're about to put food into your body, ask yourself - 'Am I hungry right now? How hungry am I? What am I hungry for?' Just by doing that, you break the reflex." - Dr. Deepak Chopra

 

Real Hunger vs. False [Emotional] Hunger 
Before we can break free from the cycle of emotional eating, we first need to learn how to distinguish between emotional and true physical hunger. Ideally, when the digestive fire is stimulated with an empty stomach, a message is sent by prana to the appetite center in the hypothalamus within the brain - this stimulates the sense of “true hunger”. However, factors such as stress, fear and anxiety may create uncoordinated movements of prana within the mind which can create a false sense of hunger - thereby, using food as a substitue for real fulfillment.

Signs Of Real Hunger:

  • appears when the previous meal is fully digested
  • comes at a regular time each day
  • lightness in the stomach
  • tongue is clean
  • appetite so strong that any food tastes good
  • appetite increases after going for a walk

Source - Dr. Vasant Lad, Textbook Of Ayurveda

 

Tips To Overcome Emotional Eating

  1. Light walk. The next time you have an emotional craving for food, simply go for a light walk. A brisk walk for 20 minutes while breathing in fresh air often provides just what’s needed to tame wild food cravings.
  2. Express your feelings. While allowing yourself to feel uncomfortable emotions can be scary - it is important to release any blocked energy in the solar plexus [i.e. Manipura chakra]. Manipura chakra is located around the navel in the area of the solar plexus and is a source of personal power and governs self-esteem, and the power of transformation. The Manipura chakra also controls metabolism and digestion. Therefore, allow your life to become more fulfilled by opening yourself up emotionally.
  3. Yoga and meditation.  Another way to help balance and alleviate any obstructions in your chakras is simply to consider yoga and meditation. At the heart of both yoga and meditation is balance. Although you’ve tried to resist emotional cravings in the past and may have failed believing that your willpower just isn’t enough. The truth is, that you have more power over your cravings than you think. Take time to sit quietly and witness the power of being still and balanced.

 

CHEATING YOUR CRAVINGS
“Eating 1 ripe banana, chopped up with 1 teaspoon ghee and a pinch of cardamom, is effective for pacifying emotional, obsessive eating habits.” - Dr. Vasant Lad
‘ The Complete Book Of Ayurvedic Home Remedies’

Want More?
Gurmar – The Sugar Destroyer
Gurmar is one of the most prevalent ayurvedic herbs for diabetes. Also known as Shardunika the name Gurmar translates to ‘destroyer of sugar’ and thereby suggestive of its properties as being an effective herb for balancing blood sugar levels.
CLICK HERE - To Learn More About Gurmar

Got Sugar Cravings?

  1. Ask yourself: Am I stressed out?
    As discussed above – when you’re under pressure, your body releases the hormone cortisol, which signals your brain to seek out rewards.
  2. Ask yourself: Have I been eating less than usual?
    If you’re eating fewer than 1,000 calories a day or restricting an entire food group (like carbs), you’re putting your body in prime craving mode.
  3. Ask yourself: Am I getting enough sleep?
    In a University of Chicago study, a few sleepless nights were enough to drop levels of the hormone leptin (which signals satiety) by 18% and boost levels of ghrelin, an appetite trigger, by about 30%. Those two changes alone caused appetite to kick into overdrive, and cravings for starchy foods like cookies and bread jumped 45%.

CLICK HERE - To Help Reduce Sugar Cravings

 


Improve Digestion Naturally + Ayurvedic Remedies For Indigestion

 

Improve Your Digestion Naturally
According to the most ancient and revered textbook of Ayurveda, the Charak Samhita, “the distinction between health and disease arises as the result of the difference between wholesome and unwholesome diet.” Similarly, Hippocrates [the father of modern medicine] has said, “leave your drugs in the pot at the pharmacy if you can’t cure your patient with food.”

“Let food be thy medicine
and medicine be thy food.”

- Hippocrates 

Food As Medicine
We have all heard the saying, “you are what you eat”. Though true, it would be more accurate to say, “you are what you eat, digest, absorb, and assimilate”. With that in mind, let us now introduce the most fundamental principle according to the science of Ayurveda. This principle is “Agni” - The Digestive Fire. In Ayurveda, this digestive fire illustrates the body’s ability to digest food; almost equivalent to digestive enzymes. In fact, when managing most health concerns, correcting digestion is often the very first line of management. Digestion is said to be the work of the fire element in the body and it is this fire element which produces the glow of good health and vitality.

Ayurvedic Supplements For Digestion
Good health depends on strong and efficient digestion.

Common Causes Of Indigestion

  • Consumption of incompatible foods, such as bananas with milk
  • Excessive consumption of heavy, oily, dense and hot, spicy foods
  • Over consumption of caffeine, alcohol and smoking
  • Eating in haste
  • Emotional eating
  • Anxiety
  • Side effects of certain antibiotics and/or medications
  • Sometimes a symptom of certain cancers, peptic ulcers and GERD

 

“The best of all medicines is resting and fasting.”
- Benjamin Franklin

Fasting
Giving the body a rest from digestion is sometimes recommended. Observing a hot water fast for a day can bring relief and can reset the body’s digestive fire. Add a pinch of black pepper and ginger for a more effective digestive aid.

Herbal Di-Gest
Supports improved digestion and balanced appetite; helps with gas, bloating, and discomfort

Dr. Andrew Weil Briefly Talks About The Anti-Inflammatory Properties Of Ginger & Turmeric

 

Natural Remedies For Acute Indigestion

  • In 1 cup of warm water squeeze a few drops of fresh lime juice and a ½ tsp of baking soda, consume quickly
  • Consume a concoction of ½ tsp of honey and ½ tsp of black pepper to ¼ cup of onion juice.
  • Boil 1 tablespoon of cumin seeds in 2 cups of water until the water is reduced to 1 cup.
  • Strain out the seeds and drink ¼ cup daily after each meal.
  • Take ½ tsp of chopped garlic with a pinch of salt and a pinch of baking soda.
  • Every morning consume 1 cup of hot water with 1 tsp of honey and 1 tsp of fresh lemon juice.

 

Herbal Remedies

  1. An effective herbal formula for indigestion is made with Kutki, Trikatu and Chitrak. Taking a pinch of each of these herbal powders with ½ tsp honey before meals will help strengthen digestion.
  2. Ginger is an extremely effective digestive herb. Drinking ginger tea or even consuming ginger pickle before a meal is a beneficial way to help kindle digestion. Before a meal take ½ tsp of chopped ginger with a pinch of salt and a few drops of lime juice.
  3. Another effective digestive herb is Trikatu. This herb is equal parts of ginger, black pepper and pippali. Taking ½ tsp of this herb with a pinch of garlic powder and a pinch of rock salt before meals aids digestion.

 

Prevention is Key
The best way to avoid any disorder is prevention. Enjoying a balancing diet and lifestyle can help maintain optimum health. Some key points to remember in addition to the above causes include:

  • Avoid ice drinks and cold foods. This will weaken the digestive fire and can lead to heartburn.
  • Eat the largest meal between the hours of 11am and 1pm when digestive fire is strong.
  • Eat a light meal for dinner to avoid overtaxing the stomach.
  • Avoid overeating and emotional eating. This can make it hard for the stomach to properly digest the overloaded food.
  • Get moving! Taking a walk after meals can aid in digestion and increase digestive fire. Certain yoga poses and pranayama (breathing exercises) are also particularly beneficial.
  • Following a daily routine of meditation, oil massages and self-care will bring overall balance and contentment.

 

Disclaimer:
This information is strictly for educational purposes and NOT considered to be medical advice. Always first discuss the risk/benefits/alternatives with your primary care physician before considering any new health regimen.


How To Easily Make Delicious Kitchari

How To  Make Kitchari
For its easy digestibility and flavored simplicity, kitchari has long been valued in nearly every indian household. Despite its name in hindi, which means “a mess” or “all mixed up”, India’s traditional science of Ayurveda considers this dish to be nourishing and is often used as part of its seasonal cleansing programs [i.e. Panchakarma]. Not only is kitchadi nourishing but with certain spice combinations, kitchadi can also greatly help to improve digestion.

Kitchari Kit This kit provides all the basic supplies you need to make Kitchari for 7 days.

The Spice Of Life
Spiced generously or by adding extra ginger you can make kitchari a simple lunch on a cool autumn or winter afternoon. Likewise, the addition of ghee [clarified butter] garnished with fresh cilantro and a splash of lime helps to make kitchari the most delicious and satisfying  meal anytime of the year.


Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup basmati rice
  • 1 cup mung daal [split yellow]
  • 6 cups water
  • 1/2 -1 inch ginger root [chopped or grated]
  • pinch of mineral salt [approx. 1/4 tsp]
  • 2 tsp ghee
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 pinch asafoetida [hing]
  • handful fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1  1/2 cups of assorted vegetables [optional]


Easy Preparation:

Add 6 cups of water to the rice and daal in a heavy-bottomed pot
Cook on medium heat while covered for approx 20 minutes; until cooked softly
In another saucepan, sauté the seeds [cumin, mustard] in ghee until they begin to pop.
Next, add the other spices [coriander, cumin powder and turmeric] to this mix
Stir the sautéed spices into the cooked daal, rice, [and vegetable] mixture
Add mineral salt and cilantro. Then enjoy.

Resource:
The Ayurvedic Institute - Online Resource: Kitchari Recipe
Photo Credit: BrunchFastClub.com


The Root Cause Of All Disease - An Ayurvedic Perspective + Practical Tips To Improve Digestion

The Root Cause Of All Disease
Ever get that heavy feeling with unclear thinking and tiredness especially after a meal? According to the science of Ayurveda [“The Science Of Life”] this lack of vitality is often due to the formation of toxins [“ama”] - which arises due to poorly digested food material and is considerered unsuitable to the body. After all, if we eat food to gain energy - why then should we feel deprived of energy after the consumption food? The answer is quite simple as we shall see below.

Respect Your Digestive Flame
In most ancient cultures fire was revered because it provided light, warmth and the ability to cook food. In some cultures [i.e. vedic culture], fire is considered sacred as it represents the transformation between the mortal world and the heavens above. We can use this same metaphor to represent the flame within - the digestive flame called “Agni”. We can think of this digestive flame as a metaphor for all metabolic functions in the body. Therefore, it is thought that by simply respecting the digestive flame “Agni” we can directly influence all significant transformations of the body - digestive function, cellular metabolism, mental perception, and overall health and well-being.

The Importance Of "Gut Health"
Currently there is much attention centered around “gut health” in the scientific community. In fact, Hippocrates - the father of modern medicine is often quoted as saying, “you are only as healthy as your digestion” and “all disease begins in the gut”. Even more impressive is the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda which has stated this same very concept thousands of years ago.

Ancient Wisdom Of Ayurveda
"When food is digested improperly because agni [the digestive flame] is low the undigested food becomes vitiated [disturbed] and collects in the stomach. It is known as ama [toxins]."
- Astangahrdaya Samhita 

The Root Cause Of All Disease - "Ama"
As mentioned above, “ama” is considered undigested or poorly digested food material which is thought to be toxic to the body. We can think of this simply as poorly digested food material which then enters into the colon only to create a hostile environment within the G.I. tract; i.e. supporting unhealthy gut flora. Not only does this support an unhealthy gut flora but even worse it supports the process of fermentation and putrefication. Now, if that sounds pretty toxic to you - you’re absolutely correct, because it most certaintly is.

Common Causes Of Ama:
The main cause for the formation of ‘ama‘ or undigested food material is impaired digestive function. Therefore, factors which impair digestion and increase the formation of ama include:

- overeating and consuming cold substances
-  irregular eating habits
- overconsumption of raw food
- eating heavy and fried food
- incompatible food combining
- eating with extreme emotions [i.e. anxiety, stress]
- sleeping before food is properly digested

Practical Tips To Help Improve Digestion
Although very simple these basic principles, if followed routinely, are often enough to improve your digestion and overall health. Often it’s the simple things that are most effective and oddly enough - overlooked. That said, let’s quickly take a look at the basics.

- All food should be freshly prepared, nutritious, and appetizing
- Food should generally contain all 6 tastes balanced to one’s needs
- We should leave 4-6 hours between meals with no snacking in between
- Eat your largest meal during the day when the sun it at its peak
- Relax and enjoy your meals in a calm soothing environment

Another Great Consideration ... Trikatu - The Digestive Herbal Formula:
Trikatu is a formula combination of equal parts ginger, black pepper and pippali. The name trikatu means three peppers or the three pungents. It is a wonderful herb with strong digestive properties.

Wait There’s More! ... 10 Golden Rules For Healthy Eating
1. Food should be warm
2. Food should be unctuous [oily]
3. Food must be taken in proper quantity
4. Allow enough time between meals
5. Avoid food with contradictory properties
6. Do not eat in a hurry
7. Do not eat too slowly or too quickly
8. Pay attention to your food while eating
9. Do not eat food which is too hot or too cold
10. Take food with proper respect for yourself


The Six Tastes Of Food - An Ayurvedic Perspective + 5 Quick Tips For Digestion

The Six Tastes Of Food
Have you ever wondered why when we are sick we often lose our sense of taste and even have a diminished appetite? The science of Ayurveda explains an interesting relationship between taste, appetite, and the power of digestion. Often we simply connect tastes and flavor with enjoyment value rather than connecting tastes with its corresponding therapeutic value. Ayurveda has a simple yet elegant explanation for all of this and even provides a correlation which considers the natural order of these six tastes and the corresponding stages of digestion, as we shall discuss below.

The Six Tastes:
Although food should most certainly should be flavorful and delightful - we should also consider the therapeutic effects which food has upon both the body and mind. The six tastes that we will consider are the following:

1. sweet
2. sour
3. salty
4. pungent
5. bitter
6. astringent

1. SWEET TASTE - First Things First!
The first taste that should be consumed in a meal is the sweet taste such as rice, wheat, maize, etc.  Ayurveda explains that sweet tastes helps to nourish the mucosal lining of the stomach as well as helps stimulate the gastric juices and digestive enzymes required for digesting the meal. In ancient days, providing something sweet first was a way of helping to promote the digestive strength in a more smooth and gentle fashion rather than shocking the system with other harsh flavors. Sweet considerations may include almonds, dates and raisins.

[[ Ancient Wisdom Regarding Astringent Taste ]]
“The sweet taste promotes the growth of all bodily tissues and Ojas [vital essence]. Aiding in longevity, it is soothing to the five sense organs and the mind, and gives strength and good complexion.”
- Charak Samhita

2. SOUR TASTE - The Second Taste
The next flavor which should be introduced into the meal is the sour taste with items such as pickles. The sour taste is thought to help further stimulate digestive juices [i.e. hydrochloric acid] from the lesser curvature of the stomach. From an energetic perspective we can think of sour as being heating and this “fire” element is what breaks up [i.e. digest] food with its hot and sharp qualities.

[[ Ancient Wisdom Regarding Astringent Taste ]]
“Sour taste improves the taste of food, enkindles the digestive fire, adds bulk to the body, invigorates, awakens the mind, gives firmness to the senses, increases strength, dispels intestinal gas and flatus, gives contentment to the heart, promotes salivation, aids swallowing, moistening and digestion of food. It is light, hot and wet.”
- Charak Samhita

3. SALTY TASTE - The Third Taste
The third taste which should introduced into the meal is the salty taste. From an energetic perspective, salty taste is made up predominately of fire and water elements which helps to secrete bile acids in order to further digest both protein and fat.

[[ Ancient Wisdom Regarding Salty Taste ]]
“Salty taste promotes digestion, is moistening, enkindles digestive fire; it is cutting, biting, sharp, fluid. Salty taste promotes salivation, liquifies mucus, cleanses the vessels, softens all the organs of the body, gives taste to food. It is heavy, oily and hot.”

4. PUNGENT TASTE - The Fourth Taste
The fourth taste which should be incorporated into the meal is the pungent taste. Pungent taste is thought to stimulate normal peristaltic movement within the gastrointestinal tract which is required to properly churn the ingested meal.

[[ Ancient Wisdom Regarding Pungent Taste ]]
“The pungent taste is cleansing to the mouth, enkindles the digestive fire, purifies food, promotes nasal secretions, causes tears and gives clarity to the senses. It helps to manage conditions of obesity, abdominal swelling and excessive liquid in the body.”
- Charak Samhita

5. BITTER TASTE - The Fifth Taste
The next taste to consider is bitter taste such as bitter green vegetables. Bitter taste is thought to stimulate the release of specialized enzymes within the jejunum and ileum in order to further digest food within the lower gut.

[[ Ancient Wisdom Regarding Bitter Taste ]]
“Bitter taste, though it does not taste good in itself, restores the sense of taste. It is detoxifying, antibacterial, germicidal, and kills worms. Bitter taste creates tightness of the skin and muscles. It kindles the digestive fire, promotes digestion of toxins and helps scrape away fat. It is dry, cold and light.”
- Charak Samhita

6. ASTRINGENT TASTE - The Sixth Taste
Finally, the meal should end with the astringent taste. This is the reason why most indian meals end with a cup of lassi. Lassi is freshly prepared butter milk or yogurt and is often mixed with water and a pinch of roasted cumin powder.

[[ Ancient Wisdom Regarding Astringent Taste ]]
“Astringent taste is drying, firming, contracting. Astringent taste promotes absorption of bodily fluids; it is dry, cooling and light.”
- Charak Samhita

5 QUICK TIPS TO AID DIGESTION:
Although we have discussed the relationship of tastes to the power of digestion - we will conclude with a few tips to help aid digestion.

1. Before each meal, consider eating 1/2 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger root with a pinch of rock salt and a squeeze of lime juice. This will help to stimulate the digestive fire [“agni”] which will then help increase the secretion of digestive juices.

2. Consider adding small amounts of ghee [clarified butter] to the meal which will increase the digestive fire [“agni”] and help improve digestion.

3. Having a small quantity of pickle with a meal, such as lime or mango pickle will also help to improve digestion.

4. After having completed the meal, consider chewing a teaspoon of roasted fennel seeds, mixed with roasted dhanyaka daal as this will help with digestion.

5.  As mentioned above, consider having a cup of lassi at the end of the meal as the astringent flavor will help complete the digestive process. You can make lassi by blending about 1/4 cup of fresh yogurt [yogurt not cold; rather room temperature] into a cup of water and then adding two pinches of ginger and cumin powder.


Lassi - A Refreshing Drink And Digestive Aid

Lassi - A Refreshing Drink And Digestive Aid
Lassi is a popular indian drink that is refreshing and helps aid digestion. It is made with fresh yogurt and water and is generally produced with 3 parts water to 1 part yogurt ratio. However this can be changed according to one’s constitution and balance – a more watery lassi is easier to digest. The benefits of lassi include boosting immunity as it provides a great source of acidophilus and vitamin B12. It is best made with fresh yogurt and certain spices add to the taste and enhance the digestive effect.

Simple Lassi Recipe

Ingredients:
·        ½ cup fresh plain yogurt
·        3 cups water

1.      Simply blend the yogurt and water together until smooth.
2.      Put into glasses and serve immediately.

Other Considerations:
~ a pinch of salt and cumin blended into the lassi can have a more digestive effect
~ sugar is also used to make sweet lassi which can be a delicious and heat reducing drink in summer
~ consider adding mint or a drop of rosewater for a tasty treat
~ spices such as cardamom & sandalwood can also been added to lassi to enhance the digestive effects.

 

How do you make your lassi?
Feel free to comment below.

References:
1.      Yarema, T., & Rhoda, D. (2006). Eat-taste-heal: An Ayurvedic guidebook and cookbook
2.      Dugliss, P. (2010). Enlightened Nutrition (1st ed., Vol. 1).
3.      Lad, U., & Lad, V. (1997). Ayurvedic cooking for self-healing (2nd ed.).
4.      Lad, V. (1998). The complete book of Ayurvedic home remedies.
5.      Hospodar, M. (1999). Heaven's banquet: Vegetarian cooking for lifelong health the ayurveda way.


Food As Medicine: The Eight Important Aspects Of Food ~ An Ayurvedic Perspective

Food As Medicine: The Eight Important Aspects Of Food
According to Ayurveda, food is considered to be the best medicine. Of equal importance is the consideration, according to Ayurveda, that poor digestion [koshtha] is the primary origin or causative factor for nearly all diseases.

"Ahara Vidhi Visheshayatana"

The Eight Important Aspects Of Food:
Let's discuss the basic principles of food. The eight important aspects of food are called ‘ahara vidhi visheshayatana’ and they are as follows:

1. Prakruti
2. Karana
3. Samayoga
4. Rashi
5. Desha
6. Kala
7. Upayoga Samasth
8. Upbhokta

A Closer Look:

1. Prakruti - or the nature of food
Depending on whether the food is easily digestible or not, food can be classified as heavy or light in quality. Meat is heavy for digestion while rice and vegetables are light. This is the basic nature of the food and while eating we must take this into consideration.

2. Karana - or processing
Generally, cooked food is better for nutrition. Some food substances like fruit or even salads are better taken as uncooked. Food cooked on natural wood or a coal fire tends to have better taste than food cooked with electricity or gas. Microwave cooking destroys prana [life-energy] in the food. Processing includes other methods like roasting, frying, baking, drying, churning etc. and depending on the method of the process can actually change the qualities of the food making food either become more light or heavy for digestion.

3. Samyoga - means combination
While preparing food the ingredients must be compatible and properly mixed together. For example, combining sour fruits with milk will curd and is not considered beneficial due to poor food combining and incompatibity of ingredients.

4. Rashi- means quantity 
While eating one has to consider the individual ingredient quantity and the total quantity of the food that is consumed. Here, again, we have to consider the heavy and light qualities of the substances that are taken. The quantity of food depends on your digestive fire. There is no fixed criteria for the amount of food according to age, sex, race, etc. However, “parigraha”— takes into consideration the quantity of each item and “sarvagraha” means the total quantity to be consumed.

5. Desha - means place 
Ayurveda has divided place into three types marshy, arid, and normal. We also have to consider the place in relation to temperature and cold climate conditions. Ultimately, food must be eaten in a place which is clean. If the surroundings where one eats are good and sattvic [pure], then the food is better absorbed and has good and beneficial effects upon the body and mind.

6. Kala - means time or period 
Only when the previous meal has been properly digested should one consider eating the next meal. One must also change the type of  food as well as the quantity and quality of food in accordance to seasonal changes. Another important consideration is that the main meal ideally should be taken between 10 a.m. to 2  p.m., which is “pitta time”; optimal for digestion.

7. Upyoga Samastha -  means rules for eating
Food ideally should be consumed while it is hot. This will naturally increase the digestive fire. Likewise, meals must be taken in a relaxed, calm and cheerful atmosphere. One should not eat, when the person is nervous, angry, anxious, or in a disturbed state of mind.

Similarly, eating too slowly or too rapidly along with eating while talking, laughing, thinking or watching television is also not advisable. It is better if we concentrate on the food only with the thought that this food is going to benefit both the body and mind. Smoking or drinking too much water or any other liquid after eating is also not advisable.

Make eating food a ritual
It is recommended to take a shower and wear clean clothes prior to cooking. Our guest is God. Therefore,  food should first be served to him and then children. Chanting of mantras and offering a prayer to God is always advisable knowing that blessed food will always nourish both the body and mind.

8. Upbhokta - Person who takes the food
Every person must take into consideration his own constitution, capacity of his digestive power, the season, time of day, and whether the previously taken food has been digested or not.

Written by Dr.Gaurang Joshi
https://www.atharvaayurvedindia.com
Twiiter @drgaurangjoshi