In an article by Shrankhla Holecek via mbg, we found the suggestions for healthy digestion to be really beneficial, so we wanted to share them with you here. We included a few of our own time-tested Ayurvedic methods as well. Below are five of the all-too-common issues with digestion and how to deal with them using the ancient sciences of Ayurveda and yoga.
Gut health is the very foundation of optimal digestion, skin health, and overall well-being according to Ayurveda
(and from personal experience).
1. HeartburnNot fun. Heartburn is a pitta-imbalance condition that can be avoided by practicing a pitta-pacifying diet. Ayurveda recommends several natural cures for heartburn and general acidity in the stomach.
- Aloe vera: Try 2 tablespoons of aloe vera with a pinch of baking soda for an immediate soothing sensation. Aloe vera is available fresh at many grocery stores, or you can rely on a high-quality edible gel when not available fresh.
- Natural alka seltzer: Mix 10 drops of lime juice, ½ teaspoon sugar and ¼ teaspoon baking soda (add this last) in 1 cup of water. Drink immediately to alleviate heartburn. Lime is a cooling sour that also improves digestive function by stimulating microcirculation.
- Papaya juice: Add 1 teaspoon sugar and 2 pinches of cardamom to 1 cup of papaya juice. This works to treat stomach acidity and indigestion because of the fruit's papain, a protein-dissolving enzyme that eases many stomach ailments and is an exceptional digestive aid.
- Breathing exercise: Inhale while keeping the tongue curled for 4 seconds, then exhale through the nostrils for 6 seconds. Repeat this over the course of a few minutes.
2. IndigestionAyurvedic tradition says that the body's agni gut fire is responsible for good digestive health. An overly rich diet, filled with too many greasy and liquid foods can inhibit the agni and cause indigestion. Overeating or eating the wrong foods together can have the same effect. So how do you keep this gut fire burning most efficiently to avoid discomfort? By adopting preventive measures. Besides avoiding overeating, chewing your food properly (up to 30 chews per bite of food!) is key to good digestion. When you do experience indigestion, try these Ayurvedic remedies:
- Lime juice: Using a fresh lime, squeeze a quarter of its juice into a cup of warm water. Add ½ teaspoon baking soda and drink immediately. (This works well for severe indigestion.)
- Garlic: Try chopping up one clove and sprinkling it with a little salt and baking powder before consuming. The pungent heat of the garlic will stimulate your gastric juices for relief from gas and ingestion.
- Ginger: Eat a slice or two of fresh ginger 20 minutes before your meal.
- Yoga: Seated poses like hero (virasana) or lotus (padmasana) are great for digestion. If you want to up the ante, try peacock pose (mayurasana).
3. Bloating & GasAyurveda dictates that vata influences on the colon cause gas to build up. Preventive measures include avoiding fermented food, most types of beans, raw food, and other vata aggravating foods. Ayurvedic herbal remedies for bloating and gas include:
- Ginger + lime juice: Take 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger pulp and mix with 1 teaspoon lime juice. Drink right after eating. (Ginger is a powerful carminative, meaning it helps prevent gas or expel it.)
- Lemon juice + baking soda: Stir 1 teaspoon lemon juice and ½ teaspoon baking soda into cool water. Drink after a meal to help digestion.
- Yoga: Seated and spinal twists as well as forward bends and bridge pose are excellent for relieving bloat and flatulence.
4. DiarrheaAccording to Ayurveda, diarrhea occurs when the agni becomes weak, meaning a pitta-pacifying diet should be adopted. Avoiding dehydration is also key to keeping diarrhea at bay. Make sure to see a doctor if diarrhea persists for more than a few days. When diarrhea occurs, try these common food and herbal remedies:
- Yogurt + water: Mix equal parts yogurt and water together (about ½ cup each), and add a bit of freshly grated ginger. Drink the whole glass. The yogurt contains bacteria that will naturally help restore the normal bacteria in the digestive tract.
- Ginger + sugar: Mix ½ teaspoon ginger powder and 1 teaspoon of natural sugar together, then chew the mixture with some warm water. Repeat 2 to 3 times a day.
5. ConstipationAyurveda dictates that constipation is a vata condition caused by low water and fiber intake as well as poor exercise habits. New diets and pre-existing conditions can cause constipation as well. Take preventive action against constipation by eating a vata-balancing diet, which involves choosing warm foods and drinks over cold foods, as well as adding a little oil to the diet. A general recommendation is always to eat more fiber: whole grains, fresh fruits, and vegetables, etc. Exercising regularly will also help your digestive system function optimally. Here are some effective Ayurvedic home remedies for constipation.
- Flaxseed: Make a flaxseed tea by boiling 1 tablespoon of flaxseed in 1 cup of water for a few minutes. Then drink the cup (including the seeds). Flaxseed is packed with fiber.
- Warm lemon water by itself or with a spoon full of honey.
- Triphala: An herb trio used in Ayurvedic medicine to promote good digestion and colon health.
- Milk + ghee: 1 to 2 teaspoons of ghee in a cup of hot milk at bedtime can be a very effective (and gentle) means of relieving constipation.
- Figs: Or black raisins, soaked overnight and consumed first thing in the morning can be a gentle and effective solution for forming good morning bathroom habits.
- Yoga: Try practicing 12 cycles of sun salutations a day.