Digestion in Ayurveda is at the core of good health and well-being: The strength of your digestion is key to what your overall health is.
Ayurveda is the Indian traditional medical system and one of the oldest in the world. It is older than India’s recorded history. Initially, the teachings were passed down orally from teacher to student. The philosophy of Ayurveda is to maintain good health, but if a person gets sick then the goal is to get at the root of what is causing the illnesses.
In Ayurvedic medicine, agni is the essence of what is at the heart of digestion. “Agni” is a Sanskrit word that means digestive fire. A strong agni supports the body by making healthy cells and tissues and eliminating toxins and waste efficiently. This process produces the subtle essence of ojas. “Ojas” is another Sanskrit word and means strength and is a person’s vital essence.
A weak agni is caused by poor diet, lifestyle choices, little or no physical activity, etc. When this happens, ama (another Sanskrit word) or toxic residue forms in the body which leads to diseases and poor health. Issues with digestion such as bloating, indigestion, and gas are a sign of weak agni.
As mentioned, in Ayurveda, the idea is not to wait until you are symptomatic to take care of your health. Ayurveda seeks to prevent sickness by keeping the body healthy. And one of the ways to do that is to have a strong digestive fire. Below are ten suggestion to light your digestive fire.
Ayurvedic Methods to Strengthen Agni
Strengthening the agni is a combination of what to eat, how to eat, and when to eat along with techniques that support the digestive system.
Stimulate agni. Before a meal, eat a small piece of fresh ginger to stimulate the salivary glands that produce the digestive juices. You can also try pickled ginger if raw ginger is a bit too much for you.
Eat the proper amount of food. Consuming too much food strains the digestive system making it unable to break down the food properly. In Ayurveda, it is suggested to eat until you are two-thirds or three-fourths full to give the stomach room to digest.
Eat larger meals earlier in the day. Eat your large meal around noon or so when the digestive juices peak. Later in the day is when the body begins to slow down to prepare for sleep. Agni is weaker during this time which can lead to bloating after a late day meal or evening meal.
Eat without distractions. Eating in Western culture has become a multi-tasking event. Employees eat lunch while working; families eat in front of the television or in their cars while driving somewhere. Even most restaurants have televisions in them. Ayurveda suggests you eat slowly and mindfully paying attention to the food’s texture, smell, and flavor. It should be a peaceful experience.
Add some spices to your dishes. Cinnamon increases agni; cardamom helps with nutrient absorption. Turmeric, cumin, ginger, and coriander are anti-inflammatory and help with digestion.
Drink ginger tea daily. Ginger is considered the “universal remedy” in Ayurveda because of its many health benefits. It helps with digestion and relieves gas and pain.
Drink beverages at room temperature. In Ayurveda, cold drinks stop the digestive fire. Cold drinks and warm food can lead to bloating and digestive issues.
Drink lassi after each meal. Lassi is the Indian version of kefir. Basically, they are yogurt drinks. They both contain probiotics which have been shown to support the digestive system.
Move. Daily do some form of physical activity. Some studies showed that short walks after meals helped to prevent sugar from spiking after eating.
Meditate. Studies suggest that meditation helps to bring the body into homeostasis, which is its natural state. Homeostasis improves digestive functions.
Let go of negative emotions. Negative emotions can affect digestion. You may have experienced indigestion, loss of appetite, or heartburn after a stressful event. Stress and holding onto negative emotions can hinder the digestive process.
While Ayurveda may be thousands of years old, many of its concepts regarding digestion are still relevant today.
- Casperson, Erin. Ayurveda for Health, Balance, and Digestion. Retrieved from https://kripalu.org/resources/ayurveda-health-balance-and-digestion
- 7 Best Tips of Ayurveda For Digestion (March 8, 2018). Retrieved from https://www.curejoy.com/content/eating-ayurvedic-tips-good-digestion/.
- Patel, Sheila M.D. 6 Ayurvedic Practices to Improve Your Digestion. Retrieved from https://chopra.com/articles/6-ayurvedic-practices-to-improve-your-digestion