Digestion may be a simple concept but gut issues are becoming increasingly common. Here are some simple tips to improve your digestive function.
In recent times we have seen a lot more information become available to us regarding the role of digestion and how important it is to have a properly functioning digestive system. Authorities used to say, “you are what you eat” but that has now changed to; “you are what you digest” suggesting our most vital role in optimum health is the proper function of our digestive system.
The ancient healing tradition of Ayurveda which has its roots in the vedic culture of India and is over 5000 years old, talks about the digestive system being responsible for the health and wellbeing of an individual. Proper assimilation of food and efficient elimination of waste builds our health but when digestion becomes hampered from a variety of factors, toxins are produced and in turn can lead to disease.
Our health and wellbeing depends upon our ability to digest everything we take in from the environment. This includes not only substances like food and drink, but also our experiences, emotions, and the impressions we take in via our sensory portals, namely our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and skin.
When our digestive ability is strong, we create healthy tissues and eliminate waste products efficiently. On the other hand, if our digestive ability is weakened through improper eating, lack of activity, negative emotional energy or unhealthy daily routines, our digestion will be hampered and we produce toxins that get stored in the body. According to Ayurveda, this toxic residue, known as ama, is the root cause of disease.
So how can we assist our digestive system? Here are a few simple tips that you can incorporate daily.
- Do some form of daily movement, whether it is a little yoga every morning, or a daily walk—A recent study published in Diabetes Care showed that a short 15-minute walk after each meal helped to control sugar spikes after eating. These short post-meal walks were more effective than taking a longer, 45-minute walk once daily.
- Don’t overeat—When we eat more food than our stomach can accommodate, we cannot properly break it down. We also tend to produce more acid, thus causing reflux and indigestion. In addition, the amount of digestive enzymes produced may not be able to completely break down the volume of food ingested, which leads to more gas formation, discomfort, or bloating. Ayurveda recommends that we leave one-third to one-quarter of our stomach empty to allow space for our body to easily digest our meal.
- Sip on ginger tea throughout the day, and with meals. Ginger is known in Ayurveda as the “universal remedy” due to its many benefits for the body, and it has been used for more than 2,000 years to treat digestive issues. Ginger can relax the smooth muscle of the intestines, thereby relieving symptoms of gas and cramping. A recent study in the European Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology found that ginger stimulates digestion by speeding up the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine, and helps eliminates digestive discomfort after eating. In addition, ginger can stimulate saliva, bile, and gastric enzymes to aid in digestion of the food that has been ingested. The researchers concluded that these beneficial effects are a result of phenolic compounds, primarily gingerol and shogaol, and various other volatile oils that are present in ginger.
- Eat your largest meal at lunchtime—Our bodies are most able to digest food at midday, when we are active. As studies have found, our digestive system secretes the highest concentration of “digestive juices” around noon, making this the best time to eat our largest meal. In the evening, our bodies are slowing down and preparing for sleep. If we eat our biggest meal at dinner, when our digestive fire is weaker, we will feel heavy and bloated and will be more likely to have difficulty falling asleep.
- Focus on releasing negative emotions—you’ve no doubt noticed that your emotions influence your digestion. You may get heartburn when you’re under stress, lose your appetite when you feel sad, or become nauseated or even throw up before a big exam or presentation. A growing body of research is finding that the stress associated with unprocessed negative emotions can inhibit the natural digestive process and lead to chronic digestive issues.
The Chopra Centre- www.chopra.com
Ayur Clinic- www.ayurclinic.com.au