Ayurvedic Tips for Healthy Digestion
In Ayurveda, the agni, or metabolic fire, is responsible for transforming what we take in to our body into the wellness that supports our thriving existence. Agni is essentially the energy of transformation. Life depends on agni, as it serves to create and destroy everything. Certain types of agni also help us to digest and assimilate experiences and emotions.
Digestive agni, called jatharagni, is centered in the stomach and is the most important of the 40 types of agni in the body. It governs digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food and other molecules into more subtle substances that allow our body to function. Ensuring that your jatharagni flame is lit is critical for ensuring that food gets burned instead of turning into fat (that's right, well-lit agni can help you control your weight!). Not only that, since health begins in the gut, healthy agni is the foundation for maintaining overall wellness. Think about your agni as a flame that you must maintain by adding kindling to a fire.
Signs of Good Agni
You can tell that your digestive fire is thriving when....
You feel no discomfort after ingesting your meal.
Your stomach does not feel full for an unusual length of time after eating.
The food passes so easily through your digestive tract that you are not even aware of the digestive process.
Elimination happens at the same time every day and is consistently well-formed yet soft.
After the completion of digestion, a pleasant anticipation for the next meal is present.
Three Simple Rules for Caring for Your Agni
Eat three meals per day at regular meal times. Lunch should be your biggest/heaviest meal.
Take food and drink at room temperature or slightly above. Never eat or drink cold items.
Sit down and relax to eat. Do not eat while angry or frustrated. Eat in a peaceful environment.
Here are a few Additional tips for lighting up your digestive Fire
Take Agni Kindler
You can kindle your digestive fire by adding some heat in the form of pungent and sour foods. To make an excellent agni kindler, grate equal parts fresh ginger and fresh turmeric, add a squeeze of lime and a pinch of natural mineral or rock salt. If you do not have fresh turmeric, leave it out, or use a pinch of powdered turmeric. Eat 1 tsp 5 minutes before each meal to light the agni. You can make a jar of agni kindler and keep in the fridge so that it’s handy before meals throughout the week.
Drink “CCF” Tea
“CCF” stands for Cumin, Coriander and Fennel because this delicious tea is made with the whole seeds of these common kitchen spices. Combine them in equal parts, and simmer in boiling water for 10 minutes. Start with about 1 tsp per cup, but experiment with the amount of spices to suit your taste. Drink throughout the day to maintain healthy agni, reduce bloating and inflammation, and help to dispel toxins in the body.
Take a walk after you eat
It's a good idea to move a bit after eating so that your food is able to move properly through your system. Taking a gentle walk about 10 minutes after your meal to aid your digestive fire, digest more quickly, and keep your energy levels up.
Replenish Your Intestinal Microbiome
It is important for the transformation of physical as well as emotional substance that your gut flora is thriving. Supplement your diet with probiotic foods such as kefir, yogurt and takram (see Recipes) as well as probiotic supplements to replenish the beneficial bacteria in your gut. This will prove to be very beneficial in the process of increasing your agni. A fantastic probiotic supplement is Dr. Ohhira's Probiotics Original Formula. Since you are pitta provoked, you will want to avoid sauerkraut and kimchi, as they can be too sour, salty and heating.
Be mindful of when and how you drink water
Drinking too much water at meal times can put out your digestive fire, just as throwing water on a campfire would. With this in mind, it is best to drink water (or CCF tea!) about 30 minutes before and two hours after your meal, but not during. It is also important to drink warm or room temperature water, as cold/icy water dims the flame.
Sip on Spicy Lassi
This delightful after-meal digestive drink is excellent for soothing the small intestine, and it also fights H. Pylori, a type of bacteria that commonly dwells in the stomach and may cause stomach ulcers.
2 tbsp sucanat (brown sugar)
½ tsp fresh ginger or ¼ dry ginger
½ tsp cardamom
½ cup yogurt (cow or goat)
2 cups warm water
Blend or whisk all ingredients well and drink after meals.
Kitchari is an Ayurvedic soup that is traditionally made of yellow mung dal and basmati rice, along with digestive spices and ghee, and is used as a cleansing and detoxifying food. Given that kitchari is such a healing and purifying food that supports agni, eating it is an essential part of laying your foundation for wellness. Learn how to make Kitchari.