Gut is our first level of defence that protects us from infections or if anything dangerous is ingested. Keeping the gut healthy is crucial for health and wellness.
In the recent years, stress, tension, unhealthy eating and erratic lifestyle has taken a huge toll on our health. Though it may take some time to fully manifest into serious lifestyle diseases, the symptoms are there. Most of us feel lethargic, experience indigestion, acidity, irritable bowel syndrome, low appetite, cravings and much more.
Scientists believe that all diseases begin in the gut. Therefore, if something is wrong, the body conveys through gut distress. These are the first indications and should never be ignored or treated with self -medication as popping antacid pills.
What is the gut? It is another name for the gastrointestinal tract an important part of the digestive system that also affects mood and memory.
Human body has 100 trillion bacteria with most of them stored in the gut. These bacteria impact all the functions, of the body and also the energy levels, creativity and mood.
What Ayurveda Says?
Charaka Samhita an ancient Ayurvedic text says, "Strength, health, longevity and vital breath are dependent upon the power of digestion including metabolism. When supplied with fuel in the form of food and drinks, this power of digestion is sustained; it dwindles when deprived of it. "
When digestion is weak assimilation and elimination are severely affected. Improper elimination builds up toxins or ‘Ama’ in the body.
The presence of ‘ama" a toxic product that arises from poor digestion is the cause of all dis-ease in the body. The Astanga Hridaya Sutra mentions that ‘ama’ is responsible for clogging of channels, indigestion, lethargy, for inducing heaviness in the body, low-energy, restlessness, congestion, accumulation of toxins and loss of taste.
Gut issues commonly manifest as constipation, acidity, lack of appetite, craving, bloating and gas.
Ayurvedic Tips for Gut Issues
Ayurveda emphasizes the role of the digestive fire called Agni which is responsible for breaking food and whatever we ingest from environment. It assists in assimilation of the useful and elimination of the unwanted.
When our digestion is strong this process happens efficiently and the body is able to produce Ojas, the secret of health and energy. Ojas is the essence responsible for overall health, energy and liveliness. It is the foundation of physical, mental and spiritual well-being and helps building strength and immunity.
Agni weakens with unhealthy living, negative emotional energy, sedentary lifestyle, eating junk food, not having a healthy routine, and sleep deprivation.
The first step towards health is forming a routine for yourself based on personal factors, like work conditions, schedules, responsibilities and duties. Consuming fresh organic food, following a regular exercise program and destressing are three important non-negotiable elements if health is your priority.
Start with simple steps to make it less overwhelming. Curtail your consumption of processed, stale and oily food. A nutritious breakfast, balanced lunch and a light dinner is all you need.
Having lunch between 12 pm to 2 pm helps in digestion as at that time Agni is strongest. It diminishes as the sun goes down. Dinner should be eaten before 8 pm.
Pack it Up
Take packed lunch to avoid eating in the office cafeteria. Any seasonal vegetable tempered with cumin and spices of your choice, rotis and dahi could be an easy and healthy option.
Dinner the lightest meal of the day, a simple khichadi with vegetables tempered with cumin and ginger can satiate and provide the required nutrients.
Role of Environment
The environment and the manner with which we have food is important for good digestion. If we eat unhealthy food, without any time table, with disinterest or in a pre-occupied manner and harbour negative feelings or thoughts, we are bound to have gut issues.
Eating with gratitude is highly recommended by Ayurveda. When we bless the food, we experience positive emotions which enhance digestion. Sitting down to eat food mindfully, relishing it without watching the TV or texting on your mobile is also helpful.
10 Easy Ayurvedic Home Remedies for Acidity
- Eat three meals a day. Fasting and skipping meals or surviving on many cups of coffee causes acidity.
- Drinking a cup of hot water mixed with lemon juice as soon as you get up helps in elimination.
- Choose fresh fruit as a mid-morning snack. Fruit should eaten in the morning and on its own.
- Eating ginger pieces soaked in lemon juice before a meal aids digestion process by enhancing Agni.
- Drink lots of water but avoid having water or beverages at meals as it will dampen the Agni and slow digestion. Drinking water 30 minutes before and after meals is beneficial.
- Cold water weakens Agni, therefore bring any drink to room temperature before having. Stop having water with ice.
- End every meal with buttermilk spiced with cumin, ginger and black salt.
- Warm milk at bedtime flavoured with nutmeg for Vata, ginger for Kapha and cardamom for Pitta is beneficial.
- Your lifestyle has developed over a period of time. You cannot change it in a day. Take small consistent steps to follow Ayurvedic principles. Plan a simple menu and get things on a weekend.
- Initially when you begin, you may find this food bland. However, lack of taste and craving for spicy and fried food is an indication of nutrient deficiency.
- Stick to this routine for a month and soon you will start enjoying it. As your digestion improves you will become more energetic and active. Once you experience this state of well-being you will never go back to old ways.
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer, and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting and travel.)