Are you eating on the go? Or are you tired after a meal?
Try these simple Ayurveda tips for good digestion.
Ayurveda relies on balance of the three doshas – vata, pitta and kapha – for good health. A healthy digestive system therefore relies on balance of the doshas and in particular – pitta, which governs the metabolism and digestive system.
Digestive problems are common and usually caused by a combination of poor diet and eating ‘on the go’. Many people rarely take the time to eat a good breakfast, usually eating a slice of toast in the car on the way to work, or not eating anything at all. Lunch time is much of the same with people eating at their desks or wolfing something down quickly before their next meeting.
Ayurveda can help improve our digestive health by not only focussing on what we eat but how we eat it. Ideally we should eat in a comfortable, relaxing environment or at least sitting down without distractions. This helps us to focus on the food, the taste and smell, and when we focus, we eat slowly, which helps digestion.
Another way to aid digestion is to stimulate the digestive fire or ‘agni’
Another way to aid digestion is to stimulate the digestive fire or ‘agni’, which is controlled by the pitta dosha. If the agni is weak, then this can make us tired after eating. If it is too strong, then it can ‘burn’ the food. Ayurveda recommends finding a balance so we can digest efficiently. To boost your digestive fire, try eating a 1-inch pinch of fresh ginger with a drop of lemon before meals.
Mixing cold drinks with hot food can cause stomach cramps or bloating so one way to help balance the agni is to avoid food or drinks that are too cold. This means drinking water or juices at room temperature and avoiding ice. Think of it like a burning fire – you don’t want to extinguish the flame!
Agni is strongest between 12-2pm, so Ayurveda recommends that lunch is the largest meal of the day. Eating too late at night can also mean the agni struggles to digest food, leaving you feeling tired in the mornings, so try to eat dinner before 8pm.
Another tip for good digestion is to have a yoghurt drink called lassi during or after meals. Lassi contains lactobacilli or ‘good bacteria’ and helps to lubricate the intestines for smooth digestion. It is made with fresh yoghurt, water and sugar to taste.
If you find that your agni goes too much the other way and you have excess acid, try eating a spoonful of pomegranate chutney before meals as this is known to control stomach acid and decrease digestive gases.
Remember, Ayurveda tips for digestion:
- Eat in a calm environment, without distractions
- Sit down and focus on the taste, smell and texture of the food
- Avoid food and drinks that are too cold
- Have a yoghurt drink that contains lactobacilli during or after meals
- Eat a piece of fresh ginger with lemon before meals to increase digestive fire
- Eat a spoonful of pomegranate chutney to decrease digestive fire and control acid
- Make lunch the biggest meal of the day
- Avoid eating dinner after 8pm
For our holidays where you can practise this ancient tradition of Ayurveda, see this page