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 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 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 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 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.
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 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