Ever since a child is born, it is believed that if tummy is healthy, the baby will be happy and healthy. The story holds true even as we grow. Don’t you believe that? Ayurveda believes that most of our problems start from tummy and they can be cured through the same route. According to tenets of Ayurveda, one’s health and wellbeing depends upon the ability to digest all that we intake. “Agni” is the Sanskrit term for the “digestive fire” that breaks down the food while assimilating what is useful and eliminating the rest. When our digestive ability, or Agni, is strong, our tummy is happy as there is proper digestion and elimination of waste products. On the other hand, if our Agni is weakened through improper eating, unhealthy daily routine, lack of activity and even negative emotional energy, our digestion will be affected and toxins are produced, that gets stored in the body in the form of “Ama”, the root cause of many diseases. Poor digestion causes stomach disorders like gas, constipation, diarrhea, burping, heart burn, vomiting, indigestion, bloating and pain. Western medicine has given it different names as irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, colitis and pancreatitis.
Why do we have Digestive Disorders? Are you over weight? Or do you suffer with GI symptoms like gas, bloating or indigestion, mostly the underlying problem is weak Agni, or poor digestion. Unfortunately, in Allopathy, there is medicine for the symptom, but lacks treatment for the root cause. Digestive Agni can be understood as a burning fire. When the flame is low, it takes a long time to cook the food. Whereas, if the fire is more, it can burn the food. We need to balance our digestive fires so that the digestion of our meals is smooth and effective. Inappropriate eating upset the balance of the body doshas. It is different for each individual. If you have Vata dosha, it gets upset by cold, dry and light foods such as raw vegetables. Pitta gets upset by warm, oily, light foods such as deep-fried vegetables and Kapha gets upset by cold, heavy, moist foods such as cold ice cream and yogurt. The other main cause of digestive problems is unhealthy lifestyle. It could be faulty eating practices or poor food choices or sometimes poor food combination.
How to make your tummy a happy one? Ayurveda recommends a variety of techniques to make the digestive fire stronger to facilitate weight loss, improve food metabolism and to minimize GI symptoms. Digestive problems and stomach upsets can be prevented, relieved and even banished by simple lifestyle changes. The six simple yet effective ways to strengthen agni are:
1) Daily Exercise & Meditation – To keep a routine of daily morning walk, yoga and meditation have amazing benefits on the overall health, specially the tummy.
2) Eat Properly – Do not eat on the move or gulp food between meetings and then couch in-front of the TV with a junk take-away for dinner. This may cause lot of problems in the long run. Do not skip meals and take time to eat slowly and peacefully.
3) Do not overeat - When we eat more food, food does not get broken properly. This causes more acid to produce, resulting in reflux and indigestion. Ayurveda recommends that we should keep one-quarter of our stomach empty for easy digestion of meal.
4) Sip ginger tea – Sipping hot gingered water through the day is advisable. In Ayurveda, Ginger is the “universal remedy” for various digestive issues. Ginger can relax the smooth muscle of the intestines, thereby relieving symptoms of gas and cramping.
5) Lunch should be the biggest meal - As we are active during the day, most food get digested. Our digestive system secretes the highest concentration of “digestive juices” around noon. In evening, our bodies slow down, so we should eat light and finish dinner 3-4 hours prior to sleeping time.
6) Beat stress to ease tummy troubles – Stressful situation always causes feeling of unease in the tummy. For some people, stress slows down the digestion, causing bloating, pain and constipation, whereas for others, it speeds up the metabolism rate causing diarrhea and frequent trips to washroom. Release the negative emotions, before it influences your digestion.
7) Reduce weight if you are overweight – Excess weight causes tummy fat to put pressure on stomach and cause heartburn. Shedding some pounds with Triphala can relieve digestive disorders such as heartburn and acidity. Triphala Churna is a wonderful bowel toner, designed to restore the muscular function and contractibility of the intestinal wall.
8) Enhance digestive system function – Include Ayurvedic formula like Bilvadi Churna to help the system work like clockwork and enhance appetite by stimulating the digestive enzymes. It can help in detoxifying pitta dosha and is a great remedy for IBS, abdominal discomfort, gas, bloating and mucus in stools.
Conclusion Ayurveda suggests that the health of the digestive system is the single most determinant of your health and well-being. Healthy digestion leads to a healthy life, whereas unhealthy digestion leads to unhappy life. It’s as simple as that. It's often that simple. Healthy digestion assures that all of the nutrients taken in through eating are assimilated in a healthy manner into the cells that become a part of you. In other words, you are what you digest.