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In Ayurveda, our digestive system is referred to as our agni, or digestive fire. Our agni is the ultimate force of intelligence within our body. According to Ayurveda, a strong agni is essential for health, happiness, vitality, and strength in all areas of our lives.
The strength and health of our agni is largely impacted by the type, quality, and temperature of the food we eat, as well as our emotional state and lifestyle. Things like cold food and drinks, certain food combinations, and processed foods and meats can lead to ama in the gut. Ama is undigested food and toxins that get stored in the digestive tract, which can lead to physical ailments, disease, and emotional issues. A strong digestive fire is essential for properly assimilating food and nutrients to nourish both our bodies and minds.
Many of us struggle with either sluggish, irregular, or overactive agni, resulting in difficult bowel movements, pain, emotional disturbances, and even disease. Improving our digestive fire, however, doesn’t need to be difficult. There are simple tips and tricks we can utilize with common kitchen items to increase our digestive fire and improve our overall well-being.
4 ways to improve your digestion with Ayurveda
Hot water with lemon
What’s it used for: Aids in elimination
How to make it: 1.5 cups hot water with 1 tsp lemon juice
First thing in the morning, have a warm cup of water with a squeeze of lemon. Hot water in the morning kickstarts our digestive fire and prepares it for a day of healthy digestion. Hot water can also help stimulate our digestion for healthy and regular elimination. If having a bowel movement is feeling difficult, favor drinking hot water not only in the morning but throughout the day.
Raw fennel seeds
What’s it used for: To ease stomach pain after eating
Fennel seeds are an incredible digestive herb in Ayurveda. They increase our digestive fire without creating too much heat in the body and can help soothe cramping, heartburn, bloating, and gas that can occur after eating. If you experience indigestion or any discomfort after eating, try chewing a teaspoon or so of raw or lightly roasted fennel seeds after meals to help soothe your stomach.
What’s it used for: Soothing indigestion
How to make it: Combine equal parts cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds and use one teaspoon per 1 cup water. Bring water to a boil, then allow the seeds to simmer for 5–10 minutes. Sip and enjoy.
Cumin, coriander, and fennel tea is the holy grail of healthy digestion in Ayurveda. It helps soothe digestive distress and pain as well as gently detoxifying the body. If you experience gas and bloating, sip on up to three cups of CCF tea a day to help you digest properly.
Ginger lime appetizer
What’s it used for: To increase appetite
How to make it: Slice an inch of peeled ginger into small slivers. Add the juice of half a lime and ¼ tsp of sea salt. Allow the ginger to marinate for around an hour. Chew a few pieces 15 minutes before a meal.
This simple appetizer consists of salt, lime, and ginger will help increase your appetite and digestive fire before meal time. If you have an irregular appetite or typically get full after a few bites, try this appetizer about 15 minutes prior to meal time.
Other Ayurvedic tips for healthy digestion
Eat only cooked foods
If you experience any kind of bloating, pain, or digestive discomfort, it is imperative you avoid raw foods. Raw foods are a lot more difficult to digest and a weak digestive tract will not be able to process and properly eliminate these types of food, leading to ama. Follow the tips above and cook your food and eat it warm to help keep a strong and healthy digestive fire.
Walk after eating
Walking helps to stimulate our digestive system and allows food to move through the body faster. After meals, go for a 15–20 minute gentle walk to help your body assimilate what it just ate. Move slowly and take deep nourishing breaths as you go.
Eat slowly and mindfully, without distraction
In Ayurveda, mealtime is meant to be sacred. Put away all devices and allow yourself to be present and express gratitude for your meal. The calmer the body is, the easier we are able to digest what we eat. Chew your food thoroughly, as this also makes it easier for the body to digest. Eat slowly and mindfully, savoring and enjoying every bite of nourishment.
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