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.

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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.

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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  


Can A "Raw Food" Diet Eventually Become Depleting?

 

Can A "Raw Food" Diet Become Depleting?
It’s no surprise that many people feel more energetic and more healthy when they initially shift from a diet consisting of heavily processed food to a raw diet. However, many raw food enthusiast have attested that over a period of time there is often a sense of ungroundedness that develops along with symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation, insomnia, and eventually decreased vitality and even low libido. According to Ayurveda, digestion is the cornerstone of health and our health is determined not only by the foods we eat but more importantly our health is primarily determined by how well we digest, absorb, and assimilate our food. Even further, Ayurveda states that “ama” which is the by-products of poor digestion is considered the root cause of most diseases and the whole aim of Ayurveda is to balance this digestive fire so that we can digest our meals efficiently and smoothly. However, foods which are raw and uncooked often adds additional strain upon the digestive fire which explains the symptoms of indigestion common to raw food enthusiast.

Raw Food Enzymes - The Truth

 

The Digestive Fire - “Agni”
The process of eating, according to Ayurveda, is metaphorically similar to a burning fire. In Ayurveda, this digestive fire [“agni”] 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. Our digestive fire may not have any problems digesting a few veggies. However, the dense, rough, and heavy qualities of raw food [in large amounts] is generally considered difficult to digest and as a result can lead to symptoms of indigestion.

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

Raw Food & Indigestion
According to the wisdom of Ayurveda “vata” is made primarily of the air element and has the qualities of cold, dry, and rough. When vata is aggravated it can cause certain qualitative changes within the body such as increased dryness, roughness, coldness, mobility and variability within the body/mind. Very simply – this can be experienced as variable appetite; gas or pain after eating; dry constipation or loose motions (increased mobility); and dry/rough skin and hair.

DRY:
Due to the dry quality, vata often leads to dry skin, dehydration and even that annoying cracking and popping of the joints.

LIGHT:
The light quality, if increased, can result in the feeling of being ungrounded, light-headed and even lead to insomnia if this quality persists.

COLD:
If you ever shake the hands of a vata type, you will take notice of cold hands. Vata makes one sensitive to cold weather and will often experience pain and stiffness in muscles and joints, specifically in cold weather.

ROUGH:
Vata creates vulnerability to developing dry, rough, and scaly skin. Likewise, the inner lining of the body [i.e. mucosal lining] can also become dry and rough and according to these principles is the underlying cause of fissures along the mucosal lining.

MOBILE:
As mentioned above, the air element of vata types is always moving, resembling the wind. If this mobile quality is increased, this can lead to abnormal movements of the body such as tics, spasms, tremors and even agitation within the mind giving rise to uncertainty and anxiety.

Organic Vata Churna Calming Spice Mix
Ready-to-use spice mixtures satisfy the six ayurvedic tastes considered essential for balance. Organic Calming Vata Churna is a blend of seven ingredients, including cumin, ginger and fenugreek.

 

Can Raw Foods Eventually Become Depleting?
Many raw food enthusiasts would argue that cooking food destroys vital nutrients and enzymes. However, research reveals that plant enzymes obtained by consuming raw foods are mostly digested and broken down by our own digestive enzymes and therefore do not significantly contribute to the actual process of digestion. Furthermore, consuming a large amount of raw food can actually strain our digestive fire and decrease our ability to properly digest the meal - thereby creating symptoms of indigestion. Instead, Ayurveda recommends lightly steaming, sautéing, and/or simmering our food at a low temperature which will make food easier to digest. Ayurveda talks a great deal about “Ojas” as being the end result of healthy digestion and balance of all bodily tissues. In fact, it is ojas which gives vitality to the body and clarity to the mind. As mentioned above – raw uncooked vegetables tends to increase vata. Vata can be likened to the modern understanding of catabolism or the breaking down of tissues. This may be great for shedding off a few extra pounds initially. However, in the long term this is considered to be depleting and as a result may prevent the formation of ojas – the quintessence vitality of life.

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Healthy Tips For Improving Digestion
- Avoid cold food and cold drinks.
- Sip warm water throughout the day.
- enjoy fresh ginger root, lime or lemon juice prior to your meal
- Eat mindfully and take your time to fully enjoy your food.
- Eat according to your primary constitution: Vata, Pitta, or Kapha.
- Eat mostly warm, cooked foods
- Incorporate healthy fats
- Include spices that enhance digestion [i.e. coriander, cumin, and fennel]

 

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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.