Why should we pay attention to our gut health?
Gut health represents the function and balance of bacteria of the many parts of our gastrointestinal tract – organs such as the esophagus, stomach, and intestines. These organs work all together to allow us to digest the food we eat without experiencing any discomfort. Then, all the food we eat is ultimately broken down in our gut to a simple form that can enter our bloodstream and be delivered as nutrients throughout our whole body. But, this is only possible if one has a healthy gut.
According to Ayurveda, our digestive system and its’ ability to metabolize foods plays’ an important factor not just for nourishment and repair but also support a properly developed Immune system. Our Agni, or in Sanskrit terms “Digestive fire’ allows the break down of food and other things we ingest, allowing us to absorb what is useful and what should be eliminated. You can look at Agni as a fire in our stomach and foods as wood. Too much wood or too little wood can put out the fire or make it out of control. So to keep the fire going, the wood must be cautiously placed on the fire.
When our Agni is robust – not only do we digest food and deliver nutrients to our body, but also it eliminates waste products efficiently and produces a substance in our body called Ojas. Ojas is a Sanskrit word for “vitality” and an essential essence to improve our immune system. If our Agni is weak, foods will be improperly digested resulting in metabolic wastes and digestive toxins resulting in the production of Ama, which is believed to be the root cause of diseases.
Here are some Ayurvedic tips for a healthy gut!
Start with a balanced diet
Ayurveda recommends you to eat healthy and whole foods like vegetables and fruits. These foods contain vitamins and nutrients. Also, your diet should comprise a balance in all six tastes; sweet, sour, bitter, salty, spicy, and astringent. If your diet has an equilibrium of all six tastes, it will naturally include all the nutrients and would not make you feel any unnecessarily unsatisfied cravings. This will help you not overeat, be wiser when it comes to your food choices, and improves your gut health.
As we mentioned earlier, too much food can also weaken our digestive prowess. When we eat more food than usual, our digestive system cannot break it down properly, which results in the production of more acids that can result in indigestion or other related gut problems such as gas formation, bloating, and upset stomach. Ayurveda recommends that we leave 1/4 of our stomach empty to allow space and allow our digestive system to effortlessly burn and digest our foods.
Chew your food properly.
The digestive process begins in your mouth. The more work your mouth does, the easier it is for your gut to do its job, so chew your food slowly and properly. Interestingly enough, as we chew our food, our body discharges enzymes that support the digestive process. Also, when we chew our food slowly, it reduces the amount of air we took while eating, reducing the likelihood of gas formation.
Consume at lunch your largest meal
Ayurveda explains that our bodies are directly connected to nature, and the more we can be in harmony with nature, the healthier and happier we can be. A good example of this statement is our bodies are most powerful and able to digest foods at midday. When the sun is at its’ peak, our Agni is too. Therefore, our largest meal should be consumed at this point of the day, making this the best time to eat our biggest meal. And our smallest meal should be eaten during the evening when our Agni is weaker. If we eat our biggest meal in the evening, one can tend to feel very heavy and bloated and will be more likely to experience difficulty in sleeping.
Incorporate spices and herbs in your foods.
Spices and herbs are considered superfoods in Ayurveda because of the many health benefits and nutrients they can provide. Aside from the nutrients, they are delicious and can make your meal more enjoyable, and among these herbs and spices, can help your body to digest foods easier. Ginger, garlic, onions, cumin, turmeric, coriander, fennel, pepper, and cinnamon are just a few names to start with, but you choose which one to use depending on your health needs. If you do not prefer to incorporate it in your meals, you can make a tea instead and consumed it every 30 minutes until before 6 in the evening.
Fasting is more known as a way to lose weight, but with Ayurveda, fasting is a method of detoxification or cleansing. Improper digestion of foods can result in wastes and toxins which produce Ama, and fasting is a way to eliminate these toxins. Another reason to utilize fasting to take care of our gut is fasting is literally a way to give your digestive system a break and the rest it needs. Fasting will not only cleanse your body but will also build up the Annie and prepare it to break down and absorb heavy and difficult foods to digest.
Be physically active.
According to Ayurveda, one of the best ways to keep the fire burning in our gut is through regular exercise. For you to stoke Agni, you do not need to do high-intensity training or fatigue yourself too much to reap the benefits; most people just need to do 30 minutes to an hour of any physical activity will be enough to support healthy digestion, detoxification, and cardiovascular health. Yoga, hiking, running, weight training, brisk walking, and recreational sports are some easy physical activity, to begin with.