agni – enhancing digestive power


ayurvedic wisdom

Believe it or not, your digestive power is more important than what you eat. Of course you don’t want to eat hamburgers and fried foods everyday. You want to cultivate a healthy relationship with food. Fresh, organic, seasonal, home -cooked with the right spices and good quality oil.

If after doing all this you are having digestive issues, then you have a problem. And it is most likely not the food, it’s your own internal mechanism that might need a boost. Ayurveda offers many holistic approaches to enhancing your digestive “agni.”

Agni is fire and in this case, it is the energy of digestion and metabolism that is crucial for good health.

Digestion should not be confused with elimination. Digestion is the process of breakdown of food and transformed into energy and wastes. Elimination is the process of removing waste from the body as in the colon.

Follow these simple suggestions and you should enjoy good digestion.

1. Avoid drinking cold beverages with your meal. Stick to sipping small amounts of hot water with meals. This breaks down the oils and fats and keeps your agni well-lit.

2. Eat slowly. Digestion begins in your mouth. Chewing your food is important in breaking down the food that will be digested in the stomach later.

3. Sit down and eat. That does not mean in the car while driving. Sit peacefully and enjoy the meal in silence or with pleasant conversations. After you finish your meal, don’t rush to wash dishes. Sit and enjoy the feeling of a full belly.

4. If you have sluggish digestion, eat a thin sliver of fresh ginger with a pinch of salt. Do this just before a meal. This will get your digestive acids going.

5. Eat animal protein only during the day when your fire is stronger. For dinner have soup, steamed vegetables and herbal tea.

6. A small amount of ghee is good for your agni as well. Add a teaspoon of ghee on your rice or quinoa and enjoy its sweet taste and rich flavor.

7. Eat fruit alone. Avoid the standard breakfast of eggs, potatoes and a fruit cup. Take it home and eat it 2-3 hours later. Fruit digests very quickly and if you eat it with regular foods, it will fester in the stomach and cause digestive problems.

8. Stop snacking. Each meal takes at least three hours to digest. Eating in between meals will disrupt the digestive process of the previous meal.

9. Do not mix dairy with savory foods. Milk, cheese and other dairy products also digest differently than say vegetables and pasta.

10. Eat only when you are hungry. Do not eat when you are not hungry. This means find other ways to satiate yourself when life offers challenges. Food is for self-nurturance not a way to distract ourselves from what life offers us in the way of lessons.

The body has a magnificent mechanism for processing what we eat into energy. We can support this system with self-discipline and respect for this in-built bodily function. Eating is a great pleasure. Cooking is an act of self-nurturance. Remember the Ayurvedic wisdom: Without proper digestion, nectar can turn into poison. With proper digestion, poison can turn into nectar.

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