7 Ayurvedic Tips For Healthy Digestion
Do you suffer from everyday digestion problems: gas, bloating, stomach discomfort, occasional constipation, occasional heartburn, or fatigue after eating? A simple solution to these common complaints is to consider not only what we eat but how we eat.
Stop Multitasking Meals
We’ve all seen, or maybe even been, the person multitasking our meal — eating lunch while driving through traffic or catching a bite to eat at our desk because we could not take the time to have a proper lunch. Our bodies need an uplifting and settled environment in order to process and absorb the nutrients from our meals. If that is not available, then we should at least be sitting down to eat — not standing, walking, or driving our way through a meal!
Enjoy the Act of Eating
The act of eating is life-giving. The process of eating, according to Ayurveda, is important for the development of consciousness as well as our physical health. When we sit down to eat, our stomach is in a relaxed posture and our awareness is on the taste, texture, and smell of the food. This will greatly improve our digestion.
Stimulate the Digestive Fire
Improve digestion by stimulating the agni, or digestive fire, before we begin eating. Weak digestive agni may result in fatigue after eating, so Ayurveda recommends eating a one-inch piece of fresh ginger with a few drops of lemon juice and a few pinches of salt before a full meal. This starts to activate the salivary glands, producing the necessary enzymes so that nutrients from food are easily absorbed by our body. Maintain healthy, strong digestion by adding ginger as a herbal supplement.
Balancing the digestive fire is key in Ayurveda. If the flame is very low, it will take a long time to cook the food. In the same way, if the fire is too big, it can burn the food. If we put a huge log on a low fire, it will extinguish it. Our digestive fire should be balanced so that we can digest our meals efficiently and smoothly.
Avoid Cold Drinks and Foods
This is like pouring cold water on burning logs. Iced water, normally served at restaurants, extinguishes the digestive fire. Even juice or milk right out of the refrigerator is too cold for digestion. Juice should be taken at room temperature and water without ice.
Recommendations for creating balanced digestion may vary, depending on your specific dosha balance. For example, stomach acidity may require different Ayurvedic recommendations than for occasional bloating or sluggish digestion.
Once you get into this habit of drinking beverages at room temperature, you will notice a dramatic improvement in your digestion and the way your body feels while eating and after the meal. Cold drinks and foods mixed with warm, cooked foods can cause stomach cramps, bloating and general discomfort in the stomach area. If you have pitta imbalance, you can take cool drinks in between meals. Cold or frozen foods are not recommended for pitta either because, even though they may temporarily cool down the heat, the Agni is still being overstimulated and the imbalance will continue.
Eat Meals Aligned with Nature’s Rhythm
Have you ever gone out for a late dinner and found that it was a strain to wake up the next morning, or that it was difficult to be efficient during the following day? These are often the side effects of improperly digested food.
The best way to avoid these problems is to follow nature’s rhythm of suitable times to eat. When the sun is strongest, between 12 and 2 p.m., is when the digestive fire is also strongest. Agni is associated with the sun, and we know through Ayurveda that our mind and body are connected to the environment in which we live.
Lunch should be the largest meal of the day, since that is the time the digestive agni is working at its maximum potency.
As the sun goes down, so does our agni. Dinner should be lighter than lunch, and should ideally be eaten before 8:00 p.m. Late-night meals interfere with sleep, and after 10:00 p.m. the body is working to burn off toxins and continue to digest food from the day. If you eat after 10:00 p.m., the food may cause toxins to accumulate in the system, and as a result the next day you wake up tired.
If you are not able to wake up fresh and clear, then it is important to analyze the quantity of food and the time of night you are eating dinner.
Drink Lassi (yogurt for digestion)
Drink a fresh yogurt Lassi either during or after the meal. This drink consists of ¼ cup fresh homemade yogurt, 1 cup of purified room-temperature water and sugar to taste. Blend it for one minute in the blender. Yogurt is one of the best remedies and helps in improving digestive health.
Lassi is light and contains necessary bacteria that lubricate the intestines to help digestion go smoothly. Lassi helps reduce gas and bloating. It also taste delicious and can make a meal more satisfying and nutritious.
Triphala for Digestion
Triphala is a powerful formulation (comination of 3 herbs – amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki) that detoxifies the colon and aids in gentle elimination while increasing absorption of nutrients. For most people, Triphala is a mild laxative, and for that reason it is excellent for clearing toxins from the digestive system. In moderate doses it is gentle, and detoxifies the body slowly. Because it is slow, you can take Triphala for longer periods of time, and then it has a deeply purifying effect.
Take one to three tablets (or equivalent spoons of powder) with water, one hour before bedtime.