It’s difficult to be healthy without a healthy gut – it’s that simple. The health of your gastrointestinal system is going to impact overall well-being.
The gut is responsible for how your digestive and immune systems work as good bacteria in your stomach affects everything from your body’s vitamin and mineral absorbency to hormone regulation, digestion, how quickly you eliminate toxins and overall mental health.
In Ayurveda, gut health is looked at in terms of agni – or digestive fire, which governs your overall wellbeing. Agni is your source of life and the healthier your agni is the better off you will be. The primary function of agni is the digestion, absorption, assimilation and transformation of food and sensations into energy. A balanced agni is key to living a healthy and fulfilling life. Likewise an unstable agni is the root of all disease. If you want to know more about the different types of agni, check out one of my previous posts where we look deeper at the four different types of agni.
Agni is the gatekeeper of life and it’s so worth investing your time now in understanding what agni is, and how you can keep yours in check. A person with a balanced agni will just feel great, they’ll be healthy, they won’t catch many colds, they’ll have a great body shape, normal blood pressure, stress won’t be an issue – and to top it off they’ll live longer.
Here are some things you can do today to to improve gut health with Ayurveda:
Eat right for your body type
There is an enormous amount of information out there on how we can become fit, healthy and productive. Experts have different opinions on how to maintain health: eat raw versus cooked food only; become vegan versus a high-protein diet; do this kind of sport but avoid that kind of sport, and the list goes on. With the enormous number of choices you have as to which path, or formula, to follow, it is essential to choose the path that is best for you. But how do you find out which path that is? Take the quick quiz here.
Ayurveda is centred around knowing your unique body type and constitution so you know what to fuel your body with, what throws you off balance, the type of exercise you tend to enjoy and more. This will be your best personal roadmap to good health.
Still your mind
Research from the Art of Living, among countless other organisations, found that by sitting still and focusing on breath, cortisol, or stress levels, decrease. This calms the body, can decrease cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure, reduce ageing and promote the brain’s ability to cope with stress. It also has a direct impact on gut health.
Even just taking time and getting out in nature can have huge benefits to your health and wellbeing. Brain-imaging research suggests that meditation can help strengthen the ability to regulate emotions.
Global overeating has become a bigger problem than world hunger with more people now obese than underweight, according to the biggest ever study of worldwide trends in body mass index. Overeating, not eating the best foods for your body type and not eating according to the seasons all aggravate vata, pitta and kapha – meaning you will have a weak digestive fire (agni).
When I advise my clients to not eat if they’re not hungry you can see they are are shocked. Why is that? This is challenging their belief system – maybe as a child they were told to sit and finish everything on their plate. Or they may be relaying what they heard from their personal trainer – that they need to eat six small meals a day. Whatever it may have been in the past, it’s important that you only eat when hungry now.
Periodic detoxing, or cleansing, is the best way to re-set and re-charge your body for long term health. A detox can range from a gentle one-day program (a fasting day) through to a week or even 28 days, depending on your goals and circumstance. The main goals of an Ayurvedic detox are to balance the body’s energies – vata (wind), pitta (fire) and kapha (water), eliminate toxins, restore the digestive fire and ignite the body’s innate intelligence. You will feel amazing after doing one of the longer detoxes and will have so much energy that you’ll become very excited about your life again.
Sip detox teas
Detox teas are an effective herbal medicine for cleaning the system of toxins and pollutants. My favourite is Ayurvedic medicated water, or CCF tea, made from coriander, cumin and fennel seeds. It’s been used by Ayurvedic doctors and practitioners for thousands of years – and it’s an easy way to detoxify your body from the overload of toxins that are absorbed on a daily basis. Setting up your kitchen pantry as your medicine cupboard is really living in-tune with nature. If you’re not drinking medicated water yet, here’s another post I wrote which goes into its many benefits. Don’t wait any longer, start today.
Eat your largest meal at lunchtime
Agni is said to be the highest during noontime when the sun is at its peak. Our digestive power has much to do with the sun and time of day. Just make sure you don’t eat at your desk – it’s much better to focus on your food so your body can properly absorb all its nutrients.
If you would like some more help with understanding your unique body type and constitution, as well as the best foods to support your gut health and a strong agni, get in touch with us at the Back2Health.