Did you know? You are not just what you eat but also what you digest!
Agni (The Power of Digestion & Transformation) is the very source of life!
In fact, you are as healthy as your Agni!
Ayurveda sees impaired Agni (weak digestion) at the root of every imbalance and disease. Without proper digestion you can’t get the right nutrients to build your body!
Some Ayurvedic practitioners say Digestion is more important than the Diet itself! If your digestion is good you can get away with a little bit of unhealthy food but if your digestion is poor you cannot even digest the best quality, most nutritious meal on your plate!
Look at the example of building a house… you get the best building material, but the construction workers are not experienced… they will ruin the building material and the house won’t turn out to be as good as you had dreamed of! Isn’t it?
Similarly, if you get the best organic & good quality food (which is the building material for your body) but your Agni (the power of digestion) is weak …. You will not digest that food nor absorb any nutrients and you stay malnourished! You won’t be able to build a healthy body! Isn’t it?
Our digestive enzymes are made up of the nutrients in food we eat! So, food is definitely important in building good digestive enzymes! But if you cannot digest that food, which means you cannot absorb nutrients out of the food you eat, how can you build a healthy digestive system! Healthy digestion is important to extract the nutrients from our food.
Now you know that we have trillions of microorganisms living on and in our body! Most of them are beneficial for us! But when your digestion is weak, unhealthy bacteria starts growing rapidly in the undigested food leading to a process of fermentation. This produces gas & bloating. If your digestive fire (Agni) is weak, food remains undigested in our gut, this undigested food is food for the microorganisms in our gut and when bacteria acts on this food, it releases substances which are not only toxic to us but really smelly as well!
Have you heard of Leaky Gut?
As bacteria turns the undigested food in your gut into toxins, these toxins lead to inflammation in the gut….. Inflammation leads to leaky gut which simply means that the selectively permeable intestinal gut lining now becomes porous & not so selective, and allows anything to enter our blood. So now the toxins could easily enter our blood circulation and even unhealthy microorganisms could enter our circulation! Our immune system has to take care of these toxic substances as well as the pathogens like bacteria/viruses/parasites to prevent them from spreading in our body. This overstimulates & tax our immune system, leaving us prone to infections, food allergies, and could even be one of the reasons for auto-immune disorders. Root cause – WEAK DIGESTION!
Those who are mindful of health will take precautions to prevent indigestion not only because it leads gas, bloating or flatulence or other digestive issues, but it could lead to disease anywhere in the body!
When your digestion is strong, your digestive juices, especially the HCL – hydrochloric acid in your stomach, naturally kill ingested germs. But if your digestion is weak, these germs survive and infest our intestines and start creating toxins (AMA). As per Ayurveda, whether you are suffering from chronic headaches, chronic skin issues, mood disorders, or even general aches and pains, poisonous AMA (toxins from undigested food in the gut) is often the silent cause. That is why Panchkarma is very popular in Ayurveda for chronic health issues! Panchakarma is a Sanskrit word that means “five therapies.” These are ways to clean the body of toxic material. Normally the body has the innate ability to efficiently process and remove these waste materials on a regular basis!
However, due to unhealthy dietary & lifestyle habits, and in some cases genetic predisposition – the digestive enzymes, metabolic co-factors, hormones, and agni -our digestive fire which regulate the body’s internal homeostasis become disorganized. This can lead to the accumulation and spread of toxins throughout the body resulting in disease.
Did you know???? Indigestion could lead to emotional disturbances as well!
Mild buildup of AMA (toxins) causes simple dissatisfaction with your life leading to anger or fear, worry & anxiety! Medium buildup AMA (toxins) causes general discomfort and sometimes depression! In advanced conditions, along with the above symptoms, you may suffer from chronic headaches, allergies, skin issues or even heart palpitations.
The Ayurvedic model of digestion reaches beyond mere digestion of food. It also includes digestion (processing) of all physiological & psychological changes. In fact, any kind of information coming through the five senses must also be processed or ‘digested’. All this is also the job of AGNI (The power of digestion) If you see a disturbing movie, processing involves digesting and overcoming and balancing those emotions of fear worry and anxiety so that your Vata dosha does not get vitiated! If you have been in an argument with someone, you need to process those emotions of anger & frustration to avoid vitiating your pitta dosha.
In Ayurveda, Agni measures your strength, your power and resilience, and may be compared to your metabolism.
SIGNS OF BALANCED AGNI
- When Agni is balanced, it tends to support strong immunity, and a long, healthy, meaningful life!
- You feel energized. You feel light & fresh. Have strong vitality!
- Show signs of Cheerfulness, Optimism, and Enthusiasm. You have that general Love of life!
- You have mental clarity, clear perception & intelligence!
- There is a brightness in your eyes (a sign of good Tejas)
- Good sense of taste
- Normal appetite (Note: healthy hunger involves a pleasant anticipation of food, but not an urgent need to eat)
- Good digestion-You can digest a reasonable quantity of food without discomfort & feel light and energetic after meals- not heavy/ lethargic- like wanting to nap!)
- Regular elimination.
- Clean tongue (no coating)
- Good immunity- You do not fall sick quite often!
- Healthy stable weight
- Normal blood pressure
- Sound sleep
SIGNS OF IMPAIRED AGNI
- Irregular, suppressed or over-active appetite.
- Your energy levels are quite low. You feel weak or fatigued quite often.
- Indigestion: gas, bloating, constipation, nausea, hyperacidity, loose stools, a sense of heaviness, feeling tired or mentally foggy after meals.
- A tendency toward congestion in the sinuses, the lymph, or even the mind.
- Emotional disturbances, with an increased tendency toward fear, worry, anxiety, anger, confusion, lethargy, or depression.
While these disturbances can be short-lived or chronic, the impaired Agni ultimately leads to accumulation of wastes (Toxins = AMA), disturbance of the Doshas & stagnation of emotions.
Unhealthy diet, improper food combinations, an unsupportive lifestyle, emotional disturbances, environmental influences can upset our digestive fire (AGNI)! If we learn to recognize and address imbalances with Agni relatively quickly, the effects need not be long lasting. Otherwise, they will undoubtedly lead to ill health and disease!
Get all the knowledge to maintain a well balanced AGNI through our self-paced online on-demand course —– “Strengthen Immunity by Improving Digestion”. Click on this link for the course overview and to register for this incredible ancient wisdom!
If you are new to Ayurveda I highly recommend that you get a clear understanding of the foundational principles of Ayurveda by taking our self-paced online course “Health & wellness with Ayurveda”.
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The content provided in my blogs are for knowledge sharing purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.