Eating is a creative act; it is the process of selecting raw material from the world that will eventually be turned into you. Tuning into your digestive health is the gateway to tuning into your overall health.
Aside from the tell-tale signs of indigestion like gas, bloating, weight gain, and acid reflux, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help monitor your digestive health and your system's ability to absorb and assimilate what you’re eating.
1. Do you feel energized after meals?
2. Are your burps clear and tasteless?
3. Does your tongue appear pink, and glossy . . . like a rose petal?
If you answered no to any of the above, ask yourself which of the following you experience most frequently:
Knowing the type of indigestion you trend toward is the first step in strengthening your digestive strength and setting you on a path towards perfect health and longevity. Ayurveda teaches us that our tendencies give us insight into our body type and provide us with antidotes to alleviate digestive discomfort.
Vata dosha and constipation are good friends. Vata is made up of the ether and air elements and vata runs dry, hard, and cold. Thus, when the colon is dry and cold, constipation results. To soothe the dry, hard, and cold qualities, we can incorporate warm, moist, and oily qualities into our diet.
Begin each morning with a cup of warm lemon water. This will immediately lubricate and stimulate the gastrocolic reflex helping to promote a morning elimination. This practice can be beneficial for everyone but is especially useful for individuals seeking relief from vata-type digestive discomfort.
*It is extremely important to drink your lemon water before any form of caffeine because coffee and caffeinated tea have an overall drying effect on the body.
Pitta dosha fires up acid reflux. Pitta is made up of fire and water. The acidic gastric fluid in your stomach is dominated by the pitta dosha and acid reflux is when this fluid is regurgitated into the esophagus causing heartburn. If this is your your type, skip the lemon water as lemon is acidic and can further aggravate the fire element and choose to take 1 oz of aloe vera just with a cup of warm water in the morning.
The earth and water elements dominated by the Kapha dosha can bog down digestion causing a slow metabolism leading to weight gain and lethargy. If you observe a thick white coating on the tongue, imagine what the rest of your GI tract looks like. For kapha type digestive health, believe in the power of subtraction.
When we feel tired after a meal, you may reach for something sweet in hopes for a sugar boost, but the truth is you need just the opposite. Look for fire up digestion but sincerely honoring your true hunger. If you think you are hungry, drink a cup of water and go for a walk. If the hunger subsides, it was false hunger; if the hunger intensifies . . . eat!
Observing how your body functions is invaluable information. If you can catch imbalances when they are small and use simple Ayurvedic diet and lifestyle remedies, you will avoid trips to your doctor later on; this is the essence of preventative care. Many times, digestive imbalance results from the negative effects stress has on our body.