Fire up! Tips for a healthy digestive System.
Does bloating, gas, brain fog, stomach pain, constipation, heartburn, and fatigue after eating sound familiar to you? Perfect then you being to 90% of the population who suffer from every day digestion problems.
So, let me explain you one basic principle.
The anicent science of Ayurveda assimilates the digestive system with with a “digestive fire” called “agni”.
It is one of the most important principles in Ayurveda..
agni = digestive fire
In Sanskrit agni is the word for fire. So this pretty much refers to the ability to fire-up the food we put into our bodies. Therefore its transformed and metabolize the food we eat into energy and power.
Food is your fuel.
Think of it this way: Your metabolism is like a wood-burning furnace that needs careful tending so it can heat the house (your whole body) and support all of the activities going on inside.
If you suffer from digestive problems the agni is imbalanced, so your furnace is not working properly.
Think of it this way: It is easier to understand if you associate the agni with the SUN.
I) MORNING (6-10am)… fire is still heating up!
First of all: NEVER skip breakfast! It is the most important meal of the day to get your body working.
As it is only the start of the day and the agni is quite low and it’s not easy for our body to digest a big breakfast. Don’t overwhelm your body in the morning. Have a small and easily digestible meal to nourish your body and to gently stoke the fires and heat up the “stove”.
Whats best for BREAKFAST:
This means eating warm and soothing, easy-to-digest foods, with an emphasis on hot cereals like porridge, eggs or cooked fruits, rather than cold cereals or bread and raw fruits or heavy meals.
I usually suggest protein rich food, especially when someone needs to stabilize their blood sugar in the morning.
II) NOON (12-2pm)… the sun is at it highest, and the agni at its strongest.
During lunch we have lots of digestive energy and the agni its working at its maximum potency . Moreover, this is the time when our body has its greatest need for the energy. Therefore, Ayurveda recommends lunch to be the main meal of the day.
When our digestion fire is strong, the enzymes and acids do a thorough job of breaking down and metabolizing the foods we eat so that they can provide proper nourishment for our bodies. Good digestion also destroys harmful bacteria, microorganisms, and toxins in your digestive tract.
Having a big lunch satisfies your agni and gives your body the nutrients when needed most. Also you don’t starve until late and start snacking thruought the afternoon.
Whats best for LUNCH?
Make sure that you eat raw food like legumes and salads only during lunch as they require a high digestive fire and are much harder to digest than cooked ones..
Animal protein like meat and fish takes so much digestive energy it should be eaten here along with lots of non-starchy mixed vegetables.
III) EVENING (6-8pm), it’s cooling down.
As the sun goes down so decreases our agni.
During this time of the day your body does not need that much energy anymore as it is the end of the day. Dinner comes at the time of day when our digestive strength is waning and the body is getting ready to repair itself. So dinner should be smaller than lunch and as early as possible.
Historically, between 8pm and 4am we humans were at rest. Our bodies have been programmed over thousands of years to take advantage of the inactivity associated with the dark hours to channel energy inward. This cycle of repair and maintenance directs nutrients into the tissues to help our body rebuild and repair itself. This night time cycle keeps us young and in good repair.
Controversially, people have only quick lunches and then (over)indulge during dinner time…
If our bodies cannot digest the food properly it will sit in your stomach all night making you feel uncomfortable and unable to sleep. Late night meals interfere with sleep and after 10 pm the body is working to burn off toxins and continue to digest food from the day which is likely to be stored as fat during the night....tired in the morning?
Moreover, toxins accumulate in the system, and as a result the next day you wake up tired. Many of my friends complain that they are not able to wake up fresh and clear in the morning. I tell them, it is important to analyze the quantity of food and the time of night they are eating dinner.
WHATS best for dinner?
Have a light dinner only - vegetarian meals and warm soups are ideal.
Eat lots of vegetables (make it 2/3 of the portion) together with nutritious whole grains like brown rice or sweet potatoes. It will provide your body with plenty fiber and minerals. And remember: no raw salads(!)
Remind yourself about the bonfire. Don't overeat, as it will kill the flames. Its like putting too much wood in the oven.
There are exceptions to every rule, but generally speaking, if people eats in accordance with their body clock their digestion and overall health are highly likely to improve. Of course it varies from person to person. But this general shape of eating throughout the day that will improve digestive function for most of you..
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