While many of us put great thought into choosing healthy foods to eat, consideration of our ability to digest our meals is less common. Ayurveda considers good digestion to be central to our health. The best way to maximize the health-promoting benefits of the food we eat is to increase our digestive power.
How do we know if our digestion is working well?
One of the easiest ways to judge the strength of our digestion is to notice how we feel after eating. If we feel light and comfortable after eating a full meal, the chances are good that we are processing our food well.
If we feel dull, heavy, fatigued, or have an uncomfortable feeling in the abdomen, this could mean that our agni, or digestive fire, is weak
Why does Ayurveda consider a strong digestion to be so important?
Our agni, or digestive power, must be strong in order to metabolize our food properly. When agni is strong, the body processes food efficiently, distributes the necessary nutrients to every cell, and burns off and eliminates waste products without leaving any toxins behind.
If our agni is weak, we don’t completely metabolize the food that we take in. The end product of partially digested food is a sticky, noxious residue that Ayurveda calls ama (impurities). When ama is absorbed into our body it blocks the channels of the body, inhibiting the normal functioning of Vata, Pitta and Kapha — the three governing principles of the physiology. One example of ama is the cellular debris that has been observed by Western medicine to build up over time in our body’s cells. This waste material impairs cellular functions and accelerates aging. It could even be a factor in causing the DNA to make mistakes, an etiological component in most cancers.
Because ama contributes to the early stages of many diseases, Ayurveda considers keeping our agni strong and our digestion healthy to be an essential component of prevention.
If you wake up in the morning with a white coating on your tongue, you need to start attending to your digestion. (And buy a tongue scraper to remove the build-up of toxins on your tongue.)
Other signs that your agni needs attention include bad breath and digestive complaints such as constipation or diarrhea.
Tips for Strengthening Agni
- Eat a “ginger pickle” before meals. Slice thin pieces of fresh ginger root, then sprinkle with lemon juice and salt. Eat a few pieces several minutes before your meal.
- Sip hot water throughout the day. Avoid cold or (worse) iced beverages.
- Get regular exercise. If you feel sleeping during the day, it is better to take a brisk, 30-minute walk rather than indulge in a daytime nap.
- Always eat sitting down and remain sitting for 10 minutes after you have finished your meal.
The traditional Ayurveda detoxification treatments, Panchakarma, offered at The Raj help dislodge toxins from the cells and flush out the ama that has been lodges in the system. The recommendations for diet and daily routine given by the Ayurveda experts will help prevent future accumulation of ama.
For more information on Panchakarma, visit The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website: