A strong digestive system is absolutely vital to one’s health. The ancient – and magical – practice of Ayurveda actually focuses largely on the idea that proper digestion is key to overall health and wellbeing. So many issues begin in the gut, and only when we address this root cause will we get ourselves to the optimal health we so deserve.
Diet is, of course, a huge component of building a strong digestive system, but today I want to touch on some extra ways to help balance agni – the digestive fire. Used in tandem with a diet of fresh, whole, nutrient-dense foods – ones that work best for your body specifically – these practices are believed to help balance agni and strengthen digestion, bringing you to a whole new level of wellness – both physically and mentally.
Ginger & lemon / pomegranate chutney. If you have sluggish digestion, ginger and lemon are a great combination for increasing agni. Sip on ginger and lemon tea throughout the day, and eat a piece of fresh ginger with lemon before meals. If your agni is overactive – Pitta types – ginger and lemon may be too stimulating to your already burning fire. You may benefit more from enhancing your meals with pomegranate chutney – a spice believed to aid digestion without further aggravating Pitta.
Time of day. To me, one of the most fascinating parts of Ayurveda is that our bodies are thought to function right along with Mother Nature. Makes total sense, no? Agni is associated with the sun – and just as the sun is strongest between the hours of 12 and 2pm, so too are our digestive fires. This means that our biggest meals of the day should be eaten between these hours, and that it’s best to avoid eating anything at all after about 6:30pm.
The copper cup. Drinking water from a copper cup upon waking is also believed to help increase agni, in addition to reducing internal acidity and promoting healthy elimination. I just recently received this copper cup as a gift, and I’m in love. I fill it with filtered water before I go to sleep, cover it, and then drink it as soon as I wake up. I love knowing that I’m strengthening my digestion this way each morning – and the fact that the cup looks beautiful is just a lovely bonus.
Room temperature beverages. Drinking ice cold beverages, although it can feel quite refreshing, is actually thought to be potentially harmful for digestion. It can shock the body and extinguish the flame, causing the buzz of a healthy digestive system to shrink to an almost non-existent lull. Instead, stick with room temperature beverages whenever possible. I love this post from Miann on why cold water is bad for you.
Peace, happiness, tranquility. The gut is oftentimes referred to as our second brain – it seems to have a certain wisdom about it; an ability to recognize truths with a perspective less biased than our own minds. Emotions tend to get stuck in the gut, and this can have detrimental effects on one’s health. In order to optimize digestion, we must take care of our minds. We need positivity and light. We must release that which no longer serves us, and take in the radiance of everything that does. Breathe, rest, meditate. Connect body to mind and mind to body. Realize that happiness is a choice – no matter what the situation – and that we will always benefit most from willingly releasing our grip on anything we’ve been holding within.
+ Do you have any more tips for improving digestion? Share, share, share!