A recent article in the journal Scientific American suggests that the health of the digestive system may be implicated in the process of inflammation.
Ayurveda has, for thousands of years, focused on the digestive system as the cornerstone of our health. Ayurveda implicates a poorly functioning digestive system as the underlying cause of most physical maladies. If the digestive system is not working well then nutrients are not distributed effectively throughout the physiology.
There can be several reasons for a poorly functioning digestive system but the number one reason, according to Ayurveda, is the accumulation of toxins (“ama” in Sanskrit). Ama blocks the digestive system and leads to the beginning of the inflammatory process. The prevention of ama is considered to be the primary highway to good health.
The process of the build-up of ama starts when we eat the wrong foods, at the wrong time and the food is not digested properly. The body becomes clogged and we become in danger of an inflammatory process leading to disease.
Following are some tips for the prevention of ama.
- Eat when you are hungry. Hunger is Mother Nature’s prompt that it is time to eat. You know not to engage in emotional eating but did you know that stress makes a mess of digestion?
- Eat to only 75 percent full. Nothing works efficiently on overload. If you stop before you are full, you’ll have room to breathe, and oxygen works wonders in the metabolic process.
- Do not eat until the previous meal is digested. Digestion consists of a natural assembly line. Give yourself time to thoroughly digest your food before eating again.
- Avoid large amounts of liquid before, during, or after meals. Don’t squelch your digestive fire. Sipping is fine but avoid large amounts of liquids.
- Make lunch the largest meal of the day. When the sun is at its highest, your metabolic processes are at their strongest. Eat the largest meal at that time.
- Avoid iced drinks and carbonated beverages. Your digestive enzymes and other vital factors were intended to operate at body temperature. Iced drinks hamper the digestive process. (Ice water is neither nice nor wise.) Enzymes also function best within a narrow pH range. Carbonated beverages are, in general, highly acidic. By altering the pH of the physiology, they impair the breakdown of food.
- Chew your food well. By breaking food down into smaller pieces, chewing increases the surface area of the food particles. Enzymes and other biochemicals then have more area on which to work, and the food is broken down into nutrients more efficiently.
- Avoid large quantities of raw foods. Raw foods do have a higher nutritional content than cooked foods, but they are difficult to digest. In order for our physiology to benefit from the extra nutritional value of raw foods, it must produce a more scorching digestive fire. Thus, we only succeed in taxing our digestive system if we eat raw foods in excess.
Ayurveda teaches that the purpose of eating is to nurture the body, mind and spirit. When your mind does not digest the food, the digestive system is hurt. When the body is not healthy the spirit cannot shine. You have a relationship with the food you eat. Pay attention when you eat! Awareness stokes the digestive fire.
Digestion is hard work for the body. Remember these Ayurvedic words of wisdom, “How you eat is as important as what you eat.” Gobbling on the run or doing attention-deficit eating only serves to handicap the digestive processes.
Ayurveda can help us to create and maintain health because this ancient system of medicine teaches us how to maintain a healthy digestive system. Follow the Ayurvedic instructions and prevent the build-up of ama. Instead of inflammation, create vitality–the gift given by a healthy digestive system!