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All Disease begins in the Gut! ~Hippocrates

More than 2500 years ago, the famous Greek physician, Hippocrates, who is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine claimed that “All Disease begins in the Gut!”

Researchers have just now caught up with what he knew long time ago!

Actually, Ayurvedic sages knew this more than 5000 years ago!

While all disease doesn’t literally start in the gut, many do in fact start with gastrointestinal disturbances or imbalances. These findings highlight the fact that you cannot achieve optimal health without a healthy digestive system!

Although our nervous system is the most critical organ system in the human body, our digestive system is considered the most crucial for the proper functioning of this human machine!

Most of us generally think that an absence of disease symptoms means that we are absolutely healthy! But nothing could be further from the truth. While digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc. are very common, it’s also almost just as common for these symptoms to be considered normal by many of us!

Did you know digestive disturbances often result in psychological symptoms such as brain fog, poor concentration, poor memory, depression and anxiety? This is because the gut and the brain are in constant communication via the gut-brain axis. That means poor gut function can lead to poor brain function & vice versa.

Another system that is closely effected by the gut is our immune system. You cannot have a healthy immune system if your digestive health is in trouble.

And this is the need of the hour! We need to Strengthen our immune system but the correct direction or the right path is via improving our digestive system!

The beautiful thing about gut health is that it’s very responsive to nutrition and lifestyle interventions. If you’re eating a diet high in processed foods and experiencing high levels of stress, there is no way you can have a healthy digestive system! But when you take care of your gut through dietary & lifestyle changes, these symptoms that often seem unrelated begin to improve. The goal of Ayurveda and holistic nutrition is always to identify the root cause of disease which often involves assessing gut health and then determining the best action plan.

Here are some of my tips on improving Digestion: –

  • Eating only when hungry is absolutely essential in maintaining a healthy Digestion (Agni as in Ayurveda).
  • Learn to know the difference between Genuine Hunger & False Hunger! Genuine Hunger is characterized by a pleasant anticipation of food, and is satisfied by eating. False Hunger could be caused by boredom, emotional upset, exhaustion, and other disturbances, but it is usually resolved with a short rest, a short walk, or some warm water.
  • Don’t nibble on snacks throughout the day! If we add more food into our system before the previous meal has been digested, it confuses the whole process, in fact slows it down allowing microorganisms to act on the food sitting in our gut – leading to toxins!
  • Did you know we ourselves shut down our own Agni (digestive fire) by :
    • Drinking cold water or large quantities of any cold beverage with food. Drinking too much fluids with meals dilutes Agni (digestive juices) and can slow down or even inhibit digestion. Cold drinks extinguish the heat or the strength of the digestive fire.
    • Eating too much food at a time i.e. Overeating dampens the Agni.
    • Eating cold food straight from the fridge can also extinguish the heat of the digestive fire.
    • Over emphasizing on raw foods, raw salads and fruits (Cold energetics) can slow down our digestive fire!
    • Heavy foods like cheese & meat especially beef & pork dull the sharpness of Agni.
    • Taking antacids (proton pump inhibitors, acid neutralizers) – reduce stomach acid and compromise the digestion of proteins and a host of health issues down the line!
    • Agni (digestion) is vitiated if we eat when emotionally disturbed, as stress suppresses the release of digestive juices!
  • Stress can have a detrimental effect on our overall heath, and especially on the digestive process. Stress activates our sympathetic nervous system which shunts energy & blood flow away from the digestive system and thus slows down the whole process of digestion, absorption & assimilation which function better when we are in the para-sympathetic (relaxed) mode!
  • Meditation is an excellent way of managing stress! It supports the proper digestion of thoughts and emotions which in turn helps us return to our para-sympathetic state of mind and supports Agni! In my opinion the best form of meditation is to be in the present and enjoy what you are doing in the present moment!
  • Use Ayurvedic digestive spices in cooking to keep your digestion strong.
  • Add digestive spices, especially freshly ground black pepper on your meals to boost your agni!
  • Salt also aids in digestion, as it helps to retain water in the body which is essential in creating digestive juices!
  • Eat ½ teaspoon fresh grated ginger with a pinch of rock salt & some lime juice before each meal to stimulate agni.
  • Ghee stimulates agni and is an excellent carrier for the herbs and spices that also aid in digestion.
  • Focus on easy to digest foods (e.g. Khichari) & avoid difficult to digest foods (e.g. meats, cheese, ice cream, fried foods).
  • Avoid difficult food combinations a topic that is commonly misunderstood & needs to be discussed in detail!
  • Small sips of warm water or ayurvedic herbal teas as per your prakruti or vikruti during a meal will aid digestion and absorption of food.
  • Do not drink iced water as it slows agni and digestion. Indeed ice water should not be taken under most circumstances, as it is too shocking to the system.
  • Proper chewing is essential to good digestion, ensuring food gets thoroughly mixed with saliva.
  • A cup of lassi (yogurt drink) at the end of a meal also aids in the digestive process.
  • Ideally, one should fill the stomach with one-third food, one-third liquid and one-third should be left empty.
  • Finally – Eat the right diet that is right for your PRAKRUTI (body type).

To identify your true Prakruti and learn all about the diet & lifestyle that’s right for your Prakruti, please go through our self-paced online course “Health & wellness with Ayurveda”.  I highly recommend that you get the foundational principles of Ayurveda strong before you jump on to our next course on Improving Digestion!

Stay tuned for our next online course on Strengthening Immunity by Improving Digestion”. Click on this link for the course overview!

To Book your very own private one-on-one ayurvedic & holistic nutrition consultation, CONNECT with me.

Namaste!

Preeti Syal

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.