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Stave off indigestion with simple yogic principles in diet and lifestyle.
Portion Size & Diet
The stomach will expand to fit a gallon of ice cream, but that doesn’t mean it should. The best measurement is your hands. You shouldn’t eat more at one sitting than would fit in two hands cupped together. Also, increase your in-take of fresh fruits and vegetables to seven servings a day and, if you consume red meat, eat it no more than twice a week. These subtle changes will decrease acid reflux, constipation, and indigestion.
Enzymes, biologically active proteins throughout body, play an important role in digestion. While many are produced in the digestive tract, the enzymes found in raw foods are also needed for good digestion. Overcooked, processed foods lack many of these natural enzymes, so make sure to integrate plenty of raw, natural food into your diet.
Age also plays a role in digestive health. With each decade, enzyme production declines. Enzyme supplements for maldigestion may help counteract the decline.
The Right Mix
Different foods have different digestion times and require different digestive enzymes. Therefore, eating too many kinds of foods at one time, such as proteins with grains, fats, and sugars, can cause indigestion. Eating the right food combinations not only helps improve digestion, but can also increase energy, regulate elimination, and help relieve depression, anxiety, and mood swings.
Find the perfect mixtures for all food types here.
Savor the Flavor
A brief rest after the meal will give you a good start on digestion. Sit for 10 minutes or so after lunch, either keeping quiet or enjoying pleasant conversation. If you can, lie down on your left side, essentially giving the stomach extra space. If not, sit on a park bench or even at your desk, enjoying a few minutes of meditation or contemplation before you return to your busy day.
In yoga, the combination of asana, heat, hydration, and breathing supports a healthy digestive system. Yoga encourages peristalsis, which moves waste and toxins through the colon. It may favor the proliferation of healthy bacteria and also develops the abdominal muscles, all of which contribute to a healthier gut. Practice forward bends like Seated Forward Bend and twists like Head-of-the-Knee Pose, which will compress the lower abdomen and release gas. Also use pranayama techniques to help oxygenate the entire body, including the digestive tract.
Herbs & Spices
In Ayurvedic tradition, spices help make food more digestible by “predigesting” the food during cooking. Heat combines and awakens their aromatic qualities, making the nutrients easier to digest. Great spices to enhance digestion include black, long, and cayenne pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, licorice, and tumeric.
Learn more ways spices and herbs help digestion here.
The quality and flavor of the herbs in tea, and its virya (energy), helps stoke the agni (digestive fire) within us and nourishes our bodies. For best digestion, try ginger, lemon, licorice, and mint tea. Also great in your tea are spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and long pepper.
Learn more about how tea aids digestion here.