Updated: Aug 12, 2018
Indigestion is an early sign of unhealthy gut. Becoming aware of our options to quickly restore our wellbeing gives us the power to take immediate action.
In Ayurveda, chronic poor digestion is because Agni, the biological fire or digestive power, is weakened or low. Physiologically, Agni is responsible of all metabolic functions in the body including digestion, absorption and assimilation of food, temperature control, lustre, immunity, tissues nutrition, toxic elimination and visual perception. Agni also impacts our mind by promoting confidence, courage, fearlessness, mental lucidity, patience and clarity. It helps maintain joy, cheerfulness, laughter, contentment, reasoning capacity of the mind, logical thought and discrimination.
Agni is the Sanskrit for "fire". A balanced Agni sustains life and vitality promising a long and healthy life.
Below you will find 10 tips to put into practice straight away. Observe yourself and pick up first the one you consider the most essential to include in your life, the one you feel would make a difference and go for it.
1. Eat only when hungry. Hunger signals that enzymes are ready to digest food. Ayurveda doesn’t advice having breakfast just because it is the main meal of the day. If you are not hungry it means you haven’t digested your previous meal and adding up more food to your system will only aggravate your Agni and build up toxins as well. Let your body tell you when it’s time for your next meal. Having 2 or 3 meals per day is healthy for some people, others need more. Please avoid comparing yourself to a friend, colleague or family member, each one is unique. Observe yourself and trust your gut feeling.
2. Avoid eating emotionally. Emotional eating can affect the digestive fire adversely. Crying or being furious while having your lunch is not recommended.
3. Avoid snacking between meals. I’m sure that for most of us, this is a challenge on its own!
4. Fill your stomach to 1/3 of its capacity with food and 1/3 with liquid leaving 1/3 empty. The empty part is needed for the muscles in the stomach to squeeze and churn food.
5. Avoid cold and iced drinks, especially during or after meals. They cool the digestive fire. For best digestion, take small sips of warm water or herbal teas like ginger, fennel or spice blend tea during a meal.
6. Chew your food well to make sure the saliva is well mixed in. Saliva plays a major role in digestion and besides, the intestines don’t have teeth ;)
7. To kindle your Agni, you can finish your meal by chewing fennel seeds or accompany your food with grated fresh ginger mixed with a pinch of rock salt. Also remember to add fresh lemon or lime to your dishes. ALWAYS try to cook with spices like ginger, pepper (in moderation if you suffer from acidity or heartburn), cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, cumin and turmeric. There's an amazing range of spices to choose from. But please remember that it’s the consistency that brings the desired results.
8. Follow a routine. Try to have your meals at the same time every day or at least most of the days!
9. Avoid having dinner after 7pm or 8pm at the latest and avoid going to bed too late otherwise your body will desperately ask for carbs to keep functioning. If your dinner is later than that, it's very likely your food won't be digested by bedtime and you may feel heavy the following morning plus sleep may be disturbed.
10. To ignite your Agni, you can also get some preparations like "Trikatu" (equal parts of black pepper, pippali or long pepper and dried ginger) either in powder or capsules from renown companies. They should be taken according to the instructions by the manufacturer or as directed by your Ayurveda practitioner.
Enjoy your meal!