Whether you are dealing with illness or simply aging, your digestion can begin to weaken. You may notice this as indigestion, gas, or bloating. Having a strong digestive fire can eliminate all of these problems. In Ayurveda (the science of life), this is called Agni.
Agni translates from Sanskrit to English as fire. Ayurveda teaches us that impaired agni is the root of every imbalance and disease. Agni digests thoughts, emotions, and food. It helps you absorb and assimilate everything you consume both physically and mentally. It is responsible for the twinkle in your eye, your skin's healthy glow, and even your discernment and focus. As you can see, agni is far more important than just helping your indigestion.
Ayurveda keeps your health in balance by helping you understand your natural constitution and following a lifestyle routine according to your type. One thing you can do to help improve your agni no matter whether you are vata, pitta, or kapha, is to eat meals at the same time every day. It is best to eat no more than two handfuls of food. If you put your hands side by side, this is your personal portion size. Your largest meal should be at lunch as that is when your agni is always the strongest.
You can weaken your agni by drinking with your meals. It is like pouring water on a campfire. It is going to dilute your digestive enzymes as they come into your stomach to help you digest, and make your body work even harder and longer. When you are not chewing your food thoroughly, you may feel like you need water in order to swallow it all down but try chewing until your food becomes liquid. It is best to drink a large glass of water 30 minutes before a meal and wait for two hours after if you can. Drinking ginger tea before a meal can also help you digest better.
Speaking of tea, there is a beneficial tea that you can drink or sip throughout the day that will help increase agni. We like to call it CCF tea, it stands for cumin, coriander, and fennel. This is a wonderful combination of spices that is good for every body type. You can make it yourself by combining a teaspoon of each spice in boiling water. After you try it, you can tinker with the combination to make it suit your palate better. You can also buy premade blends of this on Amazon and in some health food stores. It is better to drink tea or water at room temperature or warm throughout the day as anything cold will subdue the fire.
Other things that can weaken your agni include oversleeping, overeating, emotional eating, eating leftovers, heavy foods, and specific foods (meat, cheese, mushrooms). It is always recommended to follow mindful eating habits and to be fully present with your meal. Eating while emotionally disturbed, bored, distracted, or thirsty instead of hungry will cause agni to dampen.
After you eat, it is best to take a long and full deep breath before you get up from the table. This will help signify that you are done eating and your mind can register your satisfaction. It will help reset your mind and your energy for your next activity.
You can stimulate your agni after eating by going for a short walk or you could lie down on your left side for 5-15 minutes. This is a position that will stimulate energy that will help increase agni so it is supporting digestion while being relaxing and rejuvenating.
If you follow these tips and don't see a shift in your digestion, there are a few other things to try from here but you will need more custom guidance as we each have very different body types and DNA. This could include digestive enzymes, doing a cleanse, an elimination diet, or testing your food sensitivities. You can always email me or schedule a session to get more personalized guidance.
I hope this was helpful. Ayurveda may have a lot of unfamiliar words and terms but its advice is very practical and easy to implement into your life. A primary function of Ayurveda is to help prevent disease. All of these simple practices will help your body function at its prime or get it back on track. I know sometimes when things are simple you may think they won't make a difference, but it is these small simple changes that we do every day that are the biggest game changers in how we look, feel, and think.