Ayurveda uses everything in nature as a medicine—and I don't just mean herbs and oils. This system of medicine treats the air, the sun, and the water as medicine.
It treats conversations and communication as medicine. It treats relationships and interactions as medicine. And of course it uses food for its medicinal value, which means that what we eat becomes the body and mind. So we want things that enter our system to be the best quality, according to our individual needs.
Central to the Ayurvedic philosophy is the protection of agni, or the digestive fire. To be truly healthy, our digestion needs to be very strong and uninhibited by our lifestyle. This is especially true when it comes to what we eat. Ayurveda states that when agni is strong, it can break up, burn and transform food into nutrition and energy that the body can use. When our digestion is not working well, it leads to issues like constipation, bloating, acidity, indigestion, skin issues, and eventually, more serious toxicity of our entire system.
Protecting our digestion should be our number one priority, and this is mainly done in choosing the right foods and drinks for our constitution type. It is important to know what digests more easily in our stomach so we can make wise choices based on our needs, especially with so much choice out there. Even something natural and healthy may not be suitable to our system if we can’t digest it. It is best to get to know your digestive capacity and what disturbs or helps it, so you can make the best choices.
Here are a few tips to remember when it comes to protecting our digestion.
1. Avoid eating and drinking at the same time.
Diluting the stomach acid with liquids weakens it and hinders the break up of food.
2. Don’t eat raw and cooked foods at the same setting.
They don’t combine well in our system, so it's best to eat them at different times.
3. Make lunch your biggest meal.
You'll have all day to digest your food, using up the energy and fat it provides.
4. Avoid speaking too much during meals.
A lot of air enters the stomach during conversations which weakens the digestive process.
5. Eat very simply.
Avoid mixing too many food groups together. Combining many foods together increases the risk of digestive disorders.
In the end protecting our digestion—and eating correctly—adds to our vitality and energy level, helping us to focus better and be enthusiastic about our life.
Illustration by Karley Koenig