Saturday, January 13, 2018

How's Your Agni?

The Digestive System and why it is the key to good health:

Agni or the ‘digestive fire’ is central to Ayurveda. This digestive fire is seated within the lower stomach and small intestine. It is related to Pitta dosha, which is the energy of heat and transformation. Maintaining a healthy agni is the corner stone of Ayurvedic preventative health. When agni is balanced, we feel good. When it is not, we feel poorly.

Ayurveda teaches that there are three types of improper digestion which is the result of eating the wrong types of foods, eating in excess, eating too late or at irregualr times, eating a lot of processed foods, drinking too much liquid with meals and not getting enough exercise.

1. Variable digestion is erratic, sometimes quick and sometimes slow. It is typical of aggravated Vata. Symptoms can include: irregular appetite, bloating, constipation and gas. It can be aggravated by not having a good eating and sleeping routine. Following a routine and adding herbs such as fresh ginger, cumin, and fennel can aid in helping this problem.

2. Rapid digestion, or too much heat and liquid in the digestive system, is a sign of aggravated Pitta. Food is digested too quickly which can cause excess thirst and hunger, diarrhea, low blood sugar levels, and acid reflux or heartburn. Eating smaller, more regular meals and avoiding hot spices such as chilies, fried foods, coffee and alcohol can offer relief to this issue.

3. Sluggish digestion is the main cause of ama being formed and is the root cause of many diseases and is the result of Kapha vitiation. This is an increasing problem due to diets heavy in processed foods, white flour and dairy. Eating smaller meals consisting of mainly fresh and organic fruits and vegetables, and adding herbs such as Ginger and Triphala can help speed up a slow digestion.

Tips for preventing or reducing ama:

- Drink a glass of warm lemon water in the morning to start the digestive system.
-Choose seasonal, local food that is fresh and preferably organic.
-Use digestive spices such as cumin, coriander, fennel and ginger to aid digestion.
-Chew food as many times as you can as digestion begins in the mouth.
-Sip small amounts of room temperature water with meals as too much fluid dilutes gastric juices. Avoid iced water which cools the digestive fire.
- Eat at regular times each day with lunch as your biggest meal.

“Wholesome food is one of the causes of growth of living beings and unwholesome food for the growth of diseases.” Charaka Samhita

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