According to Ayurveda, when the digestive system does not function at its optimum, the body becomes congested, hampering circulation and inhibiting movement of toxins out of the body. Hence, it is not only important, but imperative that efforts are made and steps are taken to keep one’s digestive system in optimum condition. Here are some tips to improve digestion the Ayurvedic way:
- Begin each day with a warm oil massage, applying gentle pressure on the abdomen in a circular motion. This daily massage goes a long way in improving digestion.
- Have a glass of warm water with a little honey and lemon juice on an empty stomach first thing in the morning. Follow this with a warm breakfast, ideally of fresh fruits, boiled vegetables, and freshly cooked warm cereal. According to Ayurveda, breakfast should never be skipped.
- Eat regular meals, with not more than a two and a half hour gap between successive meals. The digestive tract needs about that much time to complete a digestive cycle after eating. The largest meal of the day should be eaten between 12 noon and 2pm. The last meal should be light and finished at least two hours before going to sleep.
- According to Ayurveda, the process of eating is reverent and important for the development of not only our physical health, but also our consciousness. Our bodies need an uplifting and calm environment to process and absorb the nutrients from our meals. If that is not always possible, it is important to be at least sitting down while eating, not standing, walking or driving through a meal. When we sit down to eat with nothing (like TV or a book) to distract us, our stomach is in a relaxed position, and we are fully aware of the taste, smell and texture of the food. This helps enormously in digestion.
- One other way to improve digestion is to stimulate the ‘Agni’ or digestive fire before we start eating, as weak digestive Agni may result in fatigue after eating. A one inch piece of fresh ginger with a little lime juice and salt eaten before starting a mealwill activate the salivary glands, producing the necessary enzymes for quick and easy absorption of nutrients by the body.
- Ice or cold water, or cold drinks for that matter, douse the digestive fire and must be avoided at all times. Warm water sipped throughout the day is great for aiding digestion. In Ayurveda, it is believed that warm water is exceptionally good for the stomach, helping in digestion and purification.
- Another Ayurvedic tip for good digestion is to drink a fresh yoghurt drink, also known as ‘Lassi’ with the mid-day meal. It can be made by blending ¼ cup fresh yoghurt with1 glass water (at room temperature) and sugar to taste. Lassi is not only refreshing with a meal; it is also light and contains the bacteria lactobacilli, which lubricate the intestines.
- Tea and coffee should ideally be replaced with herbal teas. A fragrant fennel tea immediately after lunch will greatly improve digestion.
Beside all these tips, one should follow all the general Ayurvedic principles for good health – getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, minimising stress and meditation.
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