Better Health through Digestion with an Ayurvedic Diet
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Digestion in AyurvedaThe Ayurvedic model of digestion reaches beyond mere digestion of food. It also encompasses digestion of chemicals, hormones, and all physiological changes. Perhaps a better word for digestion in Ayurveda is 'processing'. In fact, everything that happens to us must be processed. Digestion includes, for example, 'digesting' a cold temperature back to 98.6 degrees, information coming through the five senses, trauma, and any residual emotions.
Digestion, Imbalance & HealingThe body maintains balance by protecting itself from change. Medically, balance is called homeostasis. For example, the body keeps our temperature constant at 98.6 degrees. In contrast, the environment is always changing. These changes threaten to knock the body off balance. Disease comes when we are unable to process change.
Our ability to digest change is our ability to heal. Digestion is healing because digestion maintains balance. Our ability to digest is called agni. Literally, agni means fire. Anything that remains undigested or stuck in the body is called ama.
Facts About Digestion
The Magic of DigestionBy the magic of digestion, when you eat an apple it becomes a part of your body. And whether the apple is hot or cold, acidic or basic, sugary or bitter, the body still has to transform the qualities of the apple into the qualities of a human being. When the apple has been properly transformed, the organs are protected. The most profound way we interact with the environment is by eating it. Food choices play a central role in maintaining health.
Eat Food According to its QualitiesFood is not only nutrition. It also has qualities. Chilies are small but they have a big effect. Ayurveda classifies food by its qualities. The twenty qualities or gunas are the twenty basic effects of food. Chilies are hot but cucumbers are cool. Bread is heavy but salads are light. Butter is oily but popcorn is dry. Black pepper is sharp but cheese is dull.
In addition to extracting nutrients, our body must neutralize any qualities in the food. If we eat unconsciously food can become poison, aggravating qualities that are already out of balance. For example, hot chilies aggravate a high fever. Instead, choose food according to the qualities that will heal or balance the disease.
Guard Your DigestionDigestion of food consumes up to 60% of our daily metabolism. Digestion takes work. Since digestion is such a heavy burden on the body's resources Ayurveda pays attention to digestion very carefully. Some foods are more difficult to digest than others. Whenever the body is weakened by disease or suffering from indigestion Ayurveda recommends foods that are easy to digest.
Signs of IndigestionSigns of food indigestion include gas, bloating, burping, acid reflux, constipation, and feeling tired after eating. Other signs include body odor, bad breath and a thick coating on the tongue.
Gas is generally caused by fermentation of food. Food ferments when it sits in the gut too long. In the process of rotting our food bacteria produce tiny bubbles that collect together and create gas. The presence of gas generally indicates weak digestion.
Pay Attention to Your PoopIf digestion is healing then poop is the measure of health. Many people flush the evidence without inspection. A healthy poop is the shape, size and consistency of a ripe banana. Healthy poop is brown in color. Rank or offensive, odorous poop is unhealthy. Healthy elimination includes 1-2 bowel movements a day.
We are what we eat and don't poop. Ayurveda pays close attention to all elimination channels of the body including feces, urine, sweat and breath.
Miracle FoodsAdvertisers may try to sell you miracle foods, often from far-away places. Ayurveda says everyone has a unique body and there are no one-size-fits-all miracle foods. Finding your unique miracle foods foods isn't easy, but for every person there are special foods that help you feel great. You can find your miracle foods by removing any foods from your diet that make you feel tired, emotional, or otherwise exacerbate your symptoms. Once your diet is clean, you'll soon be able to notice which foods make you feel good. As your diet improves you'll also find your tongue craving healthy foods more reliably, making the process quicker. Your miracle foods change with the season, so you'll have to repeat this process several times the first year.
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