Balanced agni, or digestive fire, is essential for good health and for proper absorption, assimilation and elimination. Without healthy digestion, malnutrition, stagnation and toxicity occur. According to Ayurveda, there are several types of digestive imbalances that can arise. Digestion can be irregular, hypermetabolic (too fast) or hypometabolic (too slow). Each type of digestive imbalance is caused by inappropriate dietary choices. Irregular digestion (visama agni) is caused by over consumption of cold, light and dry foods which vitiate the digestive fire and result in irregular appetite, indigestion, bloating, constipation, and pain. Hypermetabolism (tiksna agni) is caused by over consumption of spicy, sour and salty foods which fan the digestive fire and cause acid reflux, heartburn, diarrhea, and other inflammatory issues. Hypometabolism (manda agni) is caused by overconsumption of cold foods, eating too much or eating too often which dampen the digestive fire and result in congestion, allergies, dullness and heaviness. Most of us suffer from at least one of these digestive issues but changing a few little things can make a big difference.
Here are just a few ways to improve digestion:
- Eat only when hungry
- Eat at regular times each day
- Make lunch the biggest meal of the day ( this is when digestion is strongest) and eat a light, early dinner
- Leave at least three hours between meals to allow the previous meal to fully digest
- Eat in a calm, relaxed environment
- Eat the right amount of food (not too much, not too little)
- Sip warm water or ginger or licorice tea during your meal to promote optimal digestion
- Take a short walk after eating
- Incorporate digestive spices such as ginger, cumin, coriander, pepper, and fennel into your meals
- Incorporate all six tastes into each meal (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, astringent)
- Eat for your constitution (you can find a chart here)
- Avoid iced beverages, cold/raw food, processed/frozen/microwaved food and leftovers as these all dull the digestive fire
And here are some additional resources if you want to learn more:
I hope you find some of these tips helpful and please comment below with any thoughts or questions.
Have a lovely week!
Carrot Ginger Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and minced
5 carrots, scrubbed and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
4 cups vegetable broth
*optional: chive blossoms, radish sprouts, soaked buckwheat groats to garnish
Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft. Add the carrots and broth and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the carrots are easily pierced with a knife. Transfer to a high speed blender and puree until completely smooth. Garnish with chive blossoms, sprouts and buckwheat groats.