Making digestion a science and an art
Can these top ten ayurvedic tips help you to feel in tip top shape?
- Make warm water your first drink of the day after waking. This encourages toxins to be flushed from the system and boosts the digestive fire (agni).
- Make oil pulling and tongue scraping a regular feature in your morning routine. Both help to cleanse the mouth and digestive tract and a gentle gag reflex from the tongue scraping also boosts the digestive fire.
- Follow the path of the sun! The strength of your digestive fire is at its best between 10am and 2pm so it is best to eat the main meal of the day at lunch-time. Eat light, warm and easily digestible food in the morning and the evening.
- Eat appropriate quantities of food. Ayurveda recommends we eat the amount of food we can hold in our two cupped hands (known as an anjali). A helpful guideline is to fill the stomach 1/3 with food, 1/3 with liquid and leave 1/3 for optimal digestion. In ayurveda, they would say “One anjali of food plus one anjali of liquid plus one anjali of space". The water taken with the meal should be room temperature or warm, not iced.
- Chew your food well. Digestion starts in the mouth. Try chewing each mouthful at least 30 times and put your awareness in to the act of nourishing yourself. ‘Be’ with your food and ‘enjoy’ the act of eating. You will be amazed how this simple act will improve your digestive capacity.
- Undertake a simple dietary cleanse or detox programme at least once or twice a year. Ayurveda says the best time for a cleanse is at the change of the seasons – going in to Spring and going in to Autumn. A simple cleanse is a powerful way to support proper elimination, re-set your digestion and improve overall health.
- Take Triphala. A traditional ayurvedic remedy made up of 3 fruits. It is balancing for all 3 doshas and has a unique ability to gently cleanse and detoxify the digestive tract, while at the same time replenishing, nourishing and rejuvenating the tissues.
- Support your agni with beautiful herbal teas like fresh ginger water, cumin seed water, fennel seed water or fresh mint tea. Coffee and tea can upset your agni.
- Get moving! Walking and Yoga are 2 great ways to reduce stress, strengthen digestion and keep the channel of elimination relaxed and flowing properly. Try doing ardha matsyendrasana (sitting spinal twist) before eating to boost your digestive capacity.
- Eat according to your doshic constitution. Certain foods which can be balancing for one dosha can actually create imbalance in another. Find out what your unique constitution is and nourish yourself by eating the correct diet for your dosha(s).
These are general guidelines. For dosha specific guidelines for your unique constitutional make-up you will need to see an ayurvedic practitioner.