Ayurvedic tips for digestive health

Annie has been a bit unwell, struggling with a sore tummy and constipation. I have been reflecting on her digestion and am seeing the connection between what she is eating and how that food is assimilating in her system. She had colic as a baby, so she started out with a weak digestive system. I have also had things like IBS in my life, Sohail too. Our family needs to be very mindful of what we eat in order to keep our system moving efficiently.
Our digestion is the most important function in the body. If we do not digest our food properly, the result is toxicity in the body, which eventually leads to health problems, like colds and flu and eventually to full blown diseases like cancer. In Ayurveda, the digestive fire is called Agni. It needs to be balanced. If it is sluggish or overactive, we do not feel well.
When we finish eating a meal, we should feel light and energised. If we have indigestion, or we feel tired and sluggish, it is a sure sign that our Agni is not working optimally. If our body is working too hard on digesting food, our mind is not clear and we cannot show up effectively in the world.
Annie and I have been experimenting with eating in the Ayurvedic way and so far, we both feel really good. I have pulled out an old post that I did in 2011, talking about simple tips to improve our digestion, from an Ayurvedic perspective. Although we have a lot of wonderful information about nutrition from a Western perspective, Ayurveda is the only system that considers our digestion. It is worth investigating a bit more, don’t you think?
Onto the old post:
I thought I would share some Ayurvedic tips for digestive health from one of my favourite books, The Path of Practice, by Maya Tiwari.
“As a general rule:
  • The main meal should be eaten at lunchtime or as an early dinner (four to five P.M.). The quantity of food ingested should be no more than two anjali (two hands cupped together).
  • The other two meals should be small, about one anjali.
  • Fruits should be eaten alone, about one hour before or after a meal, because fruits tend to ferment in the digestive tract.
  • Fruits should not be eaten with milk or other dairy products, because the acidity in the fruit curdles the milk in the stomach.
  • Sweet and sour tastes are a disharmonious combination. One counteracts the other and irritates digestion, so that the digestive fire becomes sluggish.
  • Avoid complex food combinations, especially when dairy is involved, such as tacos or lasagna; also any combination of bread, cheese and fruits.
  • Drink 1/2 cup of warm water before each meal to activate agni, the digestive fire. Avoid drinking water or other fluids with the meal. The liquid douses the digestive fire and makes the process sluggish. Taking water or fluids directly after the meal has the same counterproductive effects and promotes lethargy and weight gain.
  • Chew the meal thoroughly and joyfully to aid proper assimilation of nutrients and digestion, so that the vital tissues are well nourished, the body’s hunger is fed, and emotional cravings are satisfied.
  • Practice eating your meals in a spirit of harmony and gratitude to conserve the bodily juices for the massive task of digestion. When we attend to digestion, we attend to our health. Remember: All disease occurs as a result of poor digestion and assimilation in the body.”
Blessings to you.

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