Why is my digestive power so important?
Attention is often given to the quality of our food. Ayurveda explains that the strength of our digestive fire ‘Agni’ is also very important as it determines how much nourishment we will gain from what we eat and greatly impacts our health.
When our digestive fire ‘Agni’ is burning brightly and steadily food is digested efficiently, allowing nutrients to be transported to the cells of the body effectively. Waste products are processed efficiently, preventing a build-up of toxins and the end result of optimal digestion is the production of a subtle innermost vital essence called ojas. Ayurvedic texts explain that ojas is the basis of one’s physical strength, immunity, clarity of perception, happiness, enlightenment and longevity.
“It is Ojas which keeps all living beings refreshed. There can be no life without Ojas.” – Charaka Samhita
What happens when my digestive power is low
If however, agni is weakened through improper eating habits, lack of activity or unhealthy daily routine then digestion becomes impaired and impurities or toxins from incomplete digestion accumulate. Ayurveda has a name for this toxic residue, it is called Ama, and it is considered to be the root cause of disease.
What is Ama?
Sticky, white and foul-smelling, ama forms in your digestive tract when what you eat is not digested properly. Ama is usually caused by
- Eating foods that are not suitable for your body type or the season,
- Eating too much food or eating too little food,
- Eating before the previous meal is digested,
- Going to sleep on a full stomach,
- Eating leftover foods, processed foods made by man and not nature, old or fermented foods.
- A weak or irregular digestive fire
When ama is produced over a long period of time, it can leave your digestive tract, migrating to weak area elsewhere in your body where it settles blocking the shrotas (microcirculatory channels). When the microchannels become clogged with ama it disrupts the flow of nutrients to the area and inhibits the body’s natural waste removal systems.
Then amavisha which is a more reactive form of ama is created as the ama mixes with imbalances of Vata, Pitta or Kapha.
As this ama moves into the tissues – called dhatusama it is considered more dangerous than the simple ama.
A third type of toxin called garvisha comes from outside the body from environmental toxins such as:
- Chemicals and chemicals in household cleansers
- Air and water pollution
- Genetically engineered foods
- Synthetics and chemicals in clothing
- Synthetic drugs
- Heavy metals such as lead, arsenic and asbestos
- Toxins from spoiled food
Symptoms of accumulation of ama
- Feeling sluggish, dull or constipated
- Skin breakouts
- For ladies experiencing menstrual cramps
- Feeling fatigued or depressed
- Chronic disease
Prevention of ama accumulation
One very effective tool to help prevent ama accumulation is the food supplement Triphala Rose (MA505). The classic texts of Ayurveda describe a herbal formula called Triphala made of three fruits. Triphala is a tonic to the whole gastrointestinal system. It supports balanced digestion, aid the cleansing of ama from the body and to help strengthen healthy elimination.
To boost the strength of Triphala, Cabbage Rose has been added to make a unique blend called Triphala Rose (MA505). Taking 2 tablets at bedtime helps to detoxify your entire digestive tract. If you have a tendency for hard stool or constipation you may increase Triphala Rose tablets to 3 or 4 at bedtime. Adjust dose from 1-4 based on ease of bowel motion the following day.
Fire up your digestive power
- Certain spices act as digestive stimulants such as mustard seeds, ginger, pepper, cumin and garlic. Use these in your meals.
- If you have overeaten and your appetite is low, Trikatu with Clove (MA99) is the best digestive stimulant. Also, Vata Tea and Digest Plus Tea are good beverages for autumn and winter.
- If your digestive power is changeable, irregular or sluggish consider taking Digest Plus (MA154) 1 tablet before meals to regulates Agni and help to balance your appetite and support good digestion. Digest Plus helps balance stomach acid, reduces gas and supports liver and pancreatic function. It also detoxes ama from your body tissues. This preparation can also be useful after a heavy meal.
Healthy Digestive Fire Tips
Here are some simple Do’s and Don’ts to help you enjoy a healthy digestive fire.
- Eat at regular times.
- Eat only if you feel hungry (make sure the previous meal is digested).
- Eat according to your hunger level.
- Sit and eat in a settled environment.
- Chew well as the digestive process starts in the mouth.
- Sit quietly after meals for a few minutes.
- Always prefer fresh food and food which is freshly prepared.
- A vegetarian diet is more healthy and easy to digest.
- Don’t take any food or drink directly from the refrigerator and avoid frozen foods.
- Avoid heavy, oily or fried foods in the evening such as deep-fried foods, cheese, yoghurt, potatoes, chocolate, panir…
- Avoid carbonated and caffeinated drinks.
- Reduce or minimise gas-producing food such as cabbage, brussels sprouts, large beans, and peas during Autumn and Winter and in the evening meal.
- Do not cook or heat honey. Do not take honey with warm drinks or warm food.
- Do not reheat food which has already been cooked.
- Do not eat what you know is not good for you.
Tip – A good indicator of healthy digestive fire is feeling fully satisfied and light after eating.
Wishing you the health benefits of a healthy fire of digestion.
Linda Sinden, Maharishi AyurVeda Consultant
Linda Sinden has been a practising Maharishi Ayurveda Consultant since 1990 and is a regular contributor to our health articles. She has a practice in Auckland, New Zealand and also provides phone or Skype sessions for those who need assistance, but don’t have a consultant in their vicinity.
Mobile: +64 212237525
DISCLAIMER: The information in this document is presented for the sole purpose of imparting education on Maharishi AyurVeda and neither the information nor the products are intended to diagnose, treat, mitigate, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a medical condition or are pregnant or lactating, please consult a health professional and it is recommended that you speak with your physician before making significant changes to your diet or routine.