In Ayurveda good digestion is viewed not in the foods you are eating (even though they are important), but more in your ability to digest them. When you are able to digest your foods easily, then this is a sign you have a strong digestive fire (Agni). You may be eating the best organic foods available, but still be feeling miserable. This maybe due to not having enough fuel to burn the food you are eating.
When your digestive fire is low, this turns into Ama (undigested food particles that harm your gut). Many of todays diseases start with these pesky undigested food particles. In order to nip these toxins in the bud, an Ayurvedic practitioner investigates the foods you are ingesting to understand what might be causing these toxins. Ama and digestive fire have a direct connection. The lower your digestive fire (Agni), the more toxins (Ama) you will have.
Causes of low digestive power:
-Poor diet: overeating, improper food combinations, fried foods, sugar (table sugars, starches)
vegetable oils (Canola, Corn, Soybean, etc..), Gluten and Gliadins (damage gut lining), High oxalate and phytic acid consumption
Detrimental lifestyle: lack of exercise, irregular eating habits, sedentary lifestyle, addictions (food, drugs)
Tips to improve your digestive power:
-Make sure to soak and ferment your grains and beans to make them more digestable.
-Dont eat heavy meals past 6 pm, which is Kapha time (digestive power slows down)
-Avoid liquids with your meals
-Avoid excess fibre, as this makes your digestive processes heavier
-Use appropriate spices to increase your Hydrochloric Acid
-Drink warm to hot water during the day or ginger tea to stimulate your digestive fire.
-Practice breath of fire breathing exercises to improve your digestive fire
-Exercise, exercise, exercise
-Use Ayurvedic medicines like Chitrak, Trikatu, or Triphala
The biggest cause of autoimmune disorders in todays modern world is due to harmful chemicals in certain foods. Grains and legumes are big offenders and must be properly prepared in order to rid of these toxins. The biggest offenders are phytic acid and lectins. These chemicals damage the gut lining of the small intestines and with time can cause leaky gut. When the food "leaks out" of small intestines, the immune system begins to overreact and can cause havoc in your system. Eczema, allergies, lupus, celiac disease, psoriasis, hair fall, cancer, rheumatoid arthritis are just a few of the diseases that are due to leaky gut.
Traditional societies never ate grains and legumes in big amounts. When they did, they took great care to soak or ferment the grains before consuming them. All grains and legumes contain phytic acid along with enzyme inhibitors which block mineral absorption in the digestive tract. Gluten (wheat, rye, barley) and Gliadin (rice) are lectins that can destroy your gut villi, resulting in leaky gut. These toxins are neutralized in as little as 7 hours of soaking in water with small amounts of an acid medium, such as yogurt, buttermilk, lemon juice, or cider vinegar. Soaking also neutralizes enzyme inhibitors present in the hulls of all seeds and adds beneficial enzymes specially important in the digestion of B vitamins.
For those with gluten intolerance, soaking or fermenting gluten based grains breaks down the difficult to digest proteins. If you have Celiac avoid gluten completely.
Preparing Oatmeal the Old Fashioned Way
- 1 cup of rolled oats
- 1 cup of filtered water
- 2 tblsp of raw yogurt or buttermilk
Directions: Cover and leave outside on the counter overnight. After soaking add 1 cup of additional water and sea salt and bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for several minutes. Serve in a small bowl with raw butter, raw cream, or ghee.
Rice is gluten free and lower in phytic acid, but it is still important to soak overnight.
Directions: Mix two cups of rice with 4 cups of filtered water, add 4 tbsp of raw yogurt, butter, lime, or cider vinegar. Leave for 7 hours at least covered. Bring to a boil, skim off foam, reduce heat and stir in salt and butter. Cover tightly and cook on low for 45 minutes.
Legumes contain a lot of phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors so it is super important to prepare them right.
For kidney shaped beans: Grab a large pot and fill with water and 1 tbsp of lime or cider vinegar and a pinch of baking soda. Soak for 24 hours
For all other beans:
Soak with water and 1 tbsp of lime or cider vinegar per 1 cup of beans used. Rinse and refresh water once or twice during soaking periods. Once finished drain, rinse, and add new water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and add a few cloves of garlic, and simmer 4 to 8 hours until soft.
If you had troubles with gas and bloating in the past, these preparations are a sure fire way to eliminate that issue.
This article is contributed by Ayurvedic Practitioner Diego Batista (Checkout his instagram page @ayufoodie for wonderful ayurvedic recipes)
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