Ayurveda defines health as a balance of Dosha, Agni, Dhatu, and Mala. But along with the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Ayurveda places special emphasis on Ahara (diet) and believes that healthy nutrition nourishes the body, mind, and soul. So, improving digestive health is equally important.
Our digestive system breaks down the food we eat into the nutrients our body needs. When the digestion is not as good as it should be, the body sends clear signals. Like having excessive gas, bloating, high acidity, frequent loose motions, or bowel irregularity.
In Ayurveda classics, emphasis has been laid regarding the right way to eat food. Food consumed in the right manner serves as nectar to rejuvenate the body and maintain health. Hence, your lifestyle and your choice of foods can affect the way your body digests what you eat. Nowadays, many lifestyle diseases are increasing day by day due to incorrect eating practices and cookery procedures.
Ayurveda and Digestion or Agni
Ayurveda has described an important factor of digestion and metabolism in our body. The factor is Agni, which is responsible to digest, absorb and assimilate the food. In Ayurveda, the term “Agni” is used in the sense of digestion of food and metabolic products. It converts food in the form of energy and therefore, is responsible for all the vital functions of our body. About the importance of Agni, Acharya Charak has mentioned that after the stoppage of the function of Agni, the individual dies. And when the Agni of an individual is sama (normal), then, that person would be absolutely healthy, happy, and live a long life. But, if the Agni of a person is vitiated, the whole metabolism in his body would be disturbed, resulting in ill health and disease. Hence, Agni is said to be the pedestal (mool) of life.
Types of Agni
In Ayurveda, Agni is defined in various types that are divided as per their functions and their presence in the specific part of the body. Here are the various types of Agni:
1. Jatharagni: Jatharagni is the Agni or bioenergy present in the Jathara (stomach and duodenum). It is the most important because each and every nutrient that one ingests first comes to the Jathara (stomach). Jatharagni digests the food materials that consist of the five basic elements and transforms them for utilization by the respective Dhatus Paramanus (tissues). Moreover, it is also responsible for the separation of the food material into the essence portion (Prasad) and the waste products (kitta) in our body.
2. Bhutagni: Bhutagni is the one that is present in a basic element (Bhutas). There are five Agnis in each of the five basic elements, namely – Parthiva (earth), Apya (water), Tejas (Agni), Vayavya (vayu) and Nabhasa (akash). Acharya Charak has mentioned that the five Bhutagni digest their own part of the element present in the food materials. However, after the digestion of food by the Bhutagni, digested materials containing the elements and qualities similar to each bhutas nourish their own specific Bhautika elements of the body.
3. Dhatvagni: All the seven Dhatus (seven element tissues of the body) contain their own Agni to metabolize the nutrient materials supplied to them through their own Srotas. Acharya Charaka has mentioned the fact that the seven Dhatus that are a support of the human body, contain their own Agni with which they digest and transform the materials supplied to them to make the substances alike to them for assimilation and nourishment.
Lifestyle and Ayurvedic tips to Improve Digestive Health
A weak digestive system leads to weakened Agni. Ayurveda suggests few home remedies to improve digestion that you can easily incorporate into your daily regime. It will facilitate weight loss, improve your metabolism, regularize bowel movements and also help you find a definitive answer to the ultimate question of ‘How to improve digestive system’.
Studies suggest, meditating daily for a considerable amount of time can affect your body in a positive manner and help improve digestion. It helps restore the body’s homeostasis, which in turn promotes a better digestive system. It is recommended to meditate every day for 20-30 minutes, morning and evening to set the body in motion and to reap the maximum benefits.
Exercise or yoga
Wondering how to improve digestion power? Indulge in a bit of physical activity like yoga or any other form of physical exercise. Starting your day with yoga, running, or walking will not only make you feel energetic throughout the day but also keep your digestive system healthy. In addition to this, short walks of 15-20 minutes post every meal will help the food to easily go down the system and digest properly. Short walks and yoga help in controlling the fluctuations caused in blood sugar levels after eating anything, in case you are diabetic.
Do not overeat
If the question, how to improve the digestive system bothers you relentlessly, the answer lies in controlling eating habits. When you overeat, your body and digestive system go for a toss. It also becomes difficult for the food to break down properly. This in turn leads to the problem of indigestion, discomfort, and acidity. To improve the digestive system, the key lies in eating in moderation and not going overboard. Ayurveda recommends leaving some empty space in the stomach as that aids in easy digestion of the food.
Drink herbal teas to improve digestive health
Drinking herbal or ginger tea throughout the day aids in the effective digestion of the food. Ginger is a time-tested remedy in Ayurveda and is known to provide many health benefits. It aids in relaxing the muscles of the intestines, thereby relieving you from the symptoms of gas, acidity, or indigestion. Combat the problem of how to improve digestion naturally with this simple tea recipe:
- Boil 2 cups of water in a pan
- Add ½ inch of ginger stem and let it simmer for 5 minutes
- Take the pan off the heat and transfer the water to a cup
- Put a teabag in the water and let it steep for 2-3 minutes
- Sip this tea through the day or post every meal to improve digestive system
Have a hearty lunch
Start eating a big lunch. According to Ayurveda, the body is best equipped to digest meals during midday. The digestive system secretes the maximum amount of digestive juices in the daytime. So, it is best advised to have a hearty or bigger meal at lunchtime. Doing the same in the evening or dinner time can have adverse effects on the stomach as the digestive fire is at its weakest and the body hardly gets any time to digest the food.
Detox regularly to improve digestive health
When it comes to the eternal question of how to improve digestion, detoxification always works its magic. Periodic cleansing also aids in the rekindling of the Agni and rejuvenates the tissues. Detoxification is a natural way of flushing out harmful toxins and free radicals from the system. These toxins in the body are the primary reason for blocked intestines, irregular bowel movements, and an inactive digestive system.
A simple fruit juice diet once a week can do the trick for most. Those who do not believe in skipping meals can opt for a mono-diet where you can drink fresh fruit juices or detoxifying water for half a day before resuming your usual food intake.
Ayurvedic Medicines To Improve Digestive Health
1. Triphla Rasa – 2 tsp at night with the same amount of water
2. Avipattikar churna – 1 tsp in morning empty stomach with warm water
3. Shankh Vati – 2 tablets after lunch with normal water
Please find below the infographic on “Ayurvedic Ways to Improve Digestive Health”. Feel free to use this infographic but make sure to cite us at www.healthybazar.com.
Agni, apart from the digestive functions, is responsible for the production of strength, which has two aspects. One is strength to resist the occurrence of disease and decay in the human body and the second is strength to perform physical exercises. Due to faulty agni status, a number of undigested or unmetabolized byproducts are formed and have a tendency to block the microchannels of the body. It will result in the accumulation of doshas and finally precipitate in the form of the disease.
Ayurveda emphasizes that the major cause behind digestive problems is Agnidushti. This is why the main principle of treatment of all diseases in Ayurveda is to restore and strengthen the Agni (digestive and metabolic fire), preferably using ayurvedic measures