Optimizing Gut Health and Digestive Power

Do you suffer from digestive issues such as indigestion, food allergies, constipation, bloating, gas, or weight gain?

In Ayurveda, our health and wellbeing depend on our ability to digest everything we take in our environment. This is not only food and liquids, but also emotions, experiences, and sensory perceptions. Agni is the Sanskrit term for digestive fire. Agni helps us digest food and emotions, assimilate what is important, and eliminate what is waste. If our Agni or digestive fire is strong we can process food and emotions with ease and feel great! If our Agni is weak we build up ama. Ama is toxins or undigested food and emotions that get stored in our fat cells.

The underlying causes of weight issues, GI Symptoms, constipation, indigestion, bloating, gas, and heartburn are what we are eating, a weak Agni (digestive fire), and the build up ama (toxins). This is why gut health is central to optimizing your longevity and vibrancy in Ayurveda.

Our first steps in cleaning out the gut and cleansing the intestinal tract, is looking at the Dosha (our unique individual body constitution). We look at the make up of your constitution and find out the state of Agni and Ama and use the protocols we have established to effectively heal the gut. When we are in balance, excess weight and diseases will naturally fall away. Think of balancing the scale that is your life, not the scale at the gym.

We start to look at what you are eating currently. Are you eating cookies, crackers, energy drinks, ice cream just to get through your day? We look at what could be eliminated from your diet to optimize your energy, sleep, and digestive capacity.  It’s not just what we are eating, but when, where, and how. Are you eating in your car, on the go, or a biggest meal of the day at 9 pm? In Ayurveda, it is recommended to have your biggest meal at lunch time (12:00-2:00) when the sun and your Agni (digestive fire) is at its strongest. Your Agni is associated with the sun. Ayurveda seeks to connect our mind and body with the environment and bio rhythm of nature. When the sun goes down or in seasons with less sun, the Agni is usually weaker.

The next step is we prescribe what foods and spices will be best for your individual body type and for what season. Diets don’t work. We’ve all probably tried low- carb, sugar free, high protein diets. The list of diets can go on forever. Ayurveda is not a diet, but a lifestyle change. Some spices we recommend are tumeric, whole cumin seed, whole coriander seed, black mustard seed, and fenugreek seeds (known for its sugar stabilizing properties, especially combined with tumeric and cinnamon).

One of the best Ayurvedic breakfasts we recommend to everyone is: turmeric oatmeal with fresh ginger, flax seeds, and ghee. This will keep you sustained until lunch. The tumeric acts as an anti-inflammatory. The oatmeal is high in fiber and creates sustained energy. The fresh ginger increases your digestive fire and the ghee lubricates the intestinal lining (villi) to help keep things moving. Overall, this is one of the best gut healing breakfasts we have formulated.

The next step is increasing your Agni (digestive fire). Digestive Agni can be compared to a burning fire. If the flame is very low, it will take a long time to cook the food or improperly digest it. In the same way, if the fire is too big it can burn the food. In Ayurveda we try to balance your digestive fire to fit the season and your dosha (individual body type).

A great thing to eat to increase your digestive fire is thinly slice fresh ginger root. Squeeze lemon juice on top & sprinkle with a pinch of salt. The fresh ginger will activate the salivary glands, producing the necessary enzymes so that the nutrients in the food can be easily absorbed. Try this ten minutes before a meal.

Try not to have cold drinks or ice-cold drinks especially with a meal. Ice water or cold water extinguish your digestive fire. Cold drinks can cause stomach cramps, bloating, and discomfort if taken with a cooked meal. We recommend always having room temperature, warm, or hot water. Hot water aids in cleansing out your digestive tract by keeping the digestive fire going.

Some tips to improve your digestion:

  1. Sit down when you eat. Never eat while walking, standing or driving. Mindful eating is key to good digestion and assimilation.

  2. Do not read or watch TV while eating. This distracts you from being present with your food.

  3. Eat when your stomach is empty. This allows your previous meal to be fully digested.

  4. Do not take the next bite of food until the previous one is swallowed. We tend to eat too quickly. This can help you slow down while you eat.

  5. Wait a few minutes before serving yourself seconds. This will allow you to feel if you are still hungry or not.

  6. Eat fresh foods with abundant prana (life-force energy). Fruits, vegetables, whole grains have good prana. Frozen food, leftovers, and microwavable food are low in prana.

  7. Enjoy what you are eating! Eating is a pleasurable action. Love what you are eating and how it makes you feel.

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