If you are suffering from a digestive order, no matter how trivial, you must take it seriously
An estimated 70 million people in the US suffer from digestive disorders. While there may be several reasons behind this staggering number, a majority of digestive disorders are linked to improper diet, lack of exercise, poor sleep and desk jobs. Stress, in general, is also responsible for poor digestion.
How to improve your gut health and Why is it important?
According to Ayurveda, most of the health concerns originate from an unhealthy gut, and this applies to children, adults and elderly alike. The food that you consume is broken down to its simplest form, which then enters the bloodstream and delivers nutrients to every organ of the body.
Poor digestion means that the nutrients in your food are not being fully assimilated by your body. As a result, your body’s immune system is highly likely to collapse and make you susceptible to health concerns.
Signs of a poor digestive system?
At some point in their life, every individual experiences digestive disorders, and it’s normal to have occasional acidity or constipation. However, if the symptoms persist, they may be indicating an underlying health condition requiring immediate attention.
Some of the common signs of a poor digestive system are constipation, acid reflux, heartburn, bloating, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Also, when you are gaining or losing weight without any apparent reason, it’s your gut screaming for help. Not to worry because Ayurveda recommends several natural ways to improve gut health.
How to improve your digestive system?
Unless you are suffering from an underlying medical condition, almost all kinds of digestive disorders can be treated with Ayurveda.
In this article, we are sharing 13 Ayurveda secrets – simple and easy-to-follow ways to improve digestion.
1. Avoid Eating when you are Emotionally Charged
When you are sad, grieving, angry or simply worked up due to a heated argument, you don’t feel like eating. That’s your body telling you to calm down before having your meal. Even if you feel otherwise, you should avoid eating until the storm inside you has passed and you return to your normal self.
Intense feelings like anger and anxiety can cause a sudden spike in your breathing and heart rate, which is not an ideal state to have your meal. Imagine returning from a jog or workout session and having a hearty meal right off the bat. You are quite likely to have acid reflux if you do so. That’s because your digestive system is not ready to process food yet. And when you are emotionally charged, all your energies are focused on your emotions and not on the food you eat. This leads us to the next point.
2. Mindful Eating
Owing to our busy lives, we tend to eat fast and swallow our food without chewing it properly. Remember, digestion starts in your mouth. If you ‘drink your food and eat your water’, you can never overeat nor have any digestive disorders. It is recommended to chew your food 32 times before swallowing it. What starts as a deliberate practice will eventually become your second nature.
Also, view eating as a sacred experience, and feel a sense of gratitude for the food on your plate. Revering your food and feeling a connection with it will set you on a path to mindful eating.
Rather than eating haphazardly or mindlessly while watching Netflix, focus on your food and relish the flavor and texture in every bite. Doing so will have a positive impact on your digestive health. For better results, you can use herbal products that improve digestion and metabolism.
3. Drink Warm Water
In Ayurveda’s frame of reference, one may think of the digestive system as a fire. Eating cold food or drinking cold water is said to extinguish the ‘fire’, which implies slowing down the digestive system.
Drinking warm water not only catalyzes digestion but also improves bowel movements. Many people have experienced an immediate improvement in their digestive system by making this simple lifestyle change.
4. Eat only when you are hungry
It’s a good thing to stick to a diet plan and have your meals at fixed intervals. But sometimes, it may backfire. Your digestive system may not be efficient at all times. On some days, it may take longer to digest your food, and as a result, you may not feel hungry even when you are way past your usual time to have your next meal.
Ayurveda recommends eating only when you need to and not when you want to. The hunger sensation strikes when your previous meal has been digested properly. And this is when you should consider having your next meal.
5. Ginger and Salt – A Pre-Meal Titbit
Here’s how to speed up digestion with this easy recipe.
Taking ginger with rock salt before your meal can activate your digestive glands and speed up your digestion process. It also helps improve bowel movements and ease constipation. However, you should avoid it if you are experiencing nose bleeding or blood in your stool or urine. Ginger has a hyperthermic effect, which means it’s warm in nature and should be avoided if you are experiencing symptoms like excessive body heat, burning sensations on the skin, etc.
Here’s an easy-to-make recipe:
Cut and slice fresh ginger into thin strips and sprinkle some rock salt over it. You can also add lime juice to improve its taste. Preserve the mixture in a glass jar, and eat one ginger strip 15 minutes prior to your meal.
6. Use Ayurvedic Spices in Your Cooking
What you eat has a significant impact on your digestive system. There are certain foods that activate your digestive enzymes, and then there are ones that work against it. You should be mindful of the ingredients that you are using while cooking.
Using Ayurvedic spices in your cooking is one way to boost your metabolism and improve digestion. These spices include turmeric, cardamom, coriander, Fennel seeds, cinnamon, pepper, etc. You can buy these ingredients from a local store or online. Owing to their immense health benefits, these spices are also used as active ingredients in herbal formulations for digestive disorders.
7. Post-Meal Ritual
Eating is a sacred experience, and the ritual must continue after you have finished your meal.
Here’s how to improve gut health naturally by following a simple routine.
Sit on your knees and rest your hips on your heels, with toes facing away from you. This is called vajrasana or thunderbolt pose. Vajrasana improves digestion, helps with acidity, alleviates knee pain, back pain and strengthens thigh muscles.
For some people, it may be difficult to sit in vajrasana. In that case, one can sit straight and breathe gently for a couple of minutes. Walking a hundred steps after your supper also helps in digestion.
8. Follow the nature’s prescription
According to healthy Ayurveda practices, one should have one’s dinner before 7 o’ clock or latest by 8. Late-night dinner might interfere with your digestive system and make you a bit uncomfortable to fall asleep. As a result, you wake up feeling tired the next morning and feel unproductive the whole day. Plus, if you are having your dinner around bedtime, your system won’t have enough time to burn off toxins in your body.
If your routine doesn’t allow you to have your dinner early, make sure you cut back on carbs and fried food. It will help you sleep better and wake up feeling fresh the next day.
9. Do not overeat
You have been starving for hours. And as soon as you get food on your plate, you dig in like there’s no tomorrow. The instant gratification that you derive from eating to your heart’s content might make you regret the act later. We all have been guilty of over-indulgence several times in our lives, but if we keep doing it, our body adapts to excess eating, and that becomes the new normal.
What happens when you overeat? Overeating not only induces sleep and makes you feel lethargic, but it also interferes with your digestive system and may lead to concerns like bloating, acidity or acid reflux. Accompanied by lack of physical activity, overeating can also make you susceptible to obesity.
Overeating is often a result of when you eat fast without chewing your food properly. As a matter of fact, your brain takes 15-20 minutes to realize that your stomach is full, and you should stop eating now. Chew properly and slowly to make your mealtime last 20 minutes, and you won’t be able to overeat even if you want to.
10. Avoid Drinking Water Immediately After the Meal
As mentioned before, the digestive system is thought of as fire, and it ignites shortly after you start eating. By the time you finish your food, the process of digestion is in full swing and continues to be at its peak for the next 1 hour. Drinking water immediately after your meal can douse the proverbial fire in your stomach and slow down the process of digestion. Therefore, it is recommended to drink water at least 1 hour after you finish your meal. A sip or two during the meal won’t hurt though.
11. Drink Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is a potent recipe for improving digestion and preventing health concerns like acidity and constipation. You can buy herbal tea bags online or from a local store. Drink it every day for best results. You can also add ginger and honey to the mix to enhance the taste. Plus, ginger is an effective remedy for digestive disorders.
The best time to drink herbal tea is before you start your day. You could have it twice a day if you want to, at least 8 hours apart and 1 hour before your meal.
12. Do Yoga
Yoga is the sister science of Ayurveda. Performing yoga every day for 30 minutes can have dramatic effects on your metabolism, digestion, and overall health. The best time to do yoga is at the crack of dawn and outside the confines of your room. It is important to have a yoga mat underneath you, as it is advised against making direct contact with the floor while performing yoga.
Some of the popular and easy-to-follow yoga poses for improving your digestive health are: Parsva Sukhasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Supta Matsyendrasana, Apanasana, Marjaryasana-Bitilasana, Bhujangasana, Dhanurasana and Jathara Parivartanasana to name a few. You can easily find video tutorials for these yoga poses on Youtube.
13. Homemade remedies for specific health concerns
Sometimes, digestive disorders are short-term and not that serious. In that case you can rely on homemade remedies for quick relief.
Here’s how to improve digestion naturally at home.
If you are suffering from constipation, have a drink made up of ghee, salt and hot water. It is also recommended to eat a ripe banana after your dinner, washed down with hot milk for easier bowel movement the next morning.
If you have acidity but don’t want to take magnesium-based syrups, prepare a mixture of fennel seeds, clove and holy basil. Consume in small quantities and chew it for a while. This will stimulate salivary glands to produce more saliva, which will eventually neutralize the excess acid in your stomach. Consuming coconut water and yogurt can also help you find quick relief.
To reduce bloating, take ginger and honey with warm water first thing in the morning. Following this routine can also aid bowel movements.
Suffering from diarrhea? Make a bottle gourd soup or stew and have it with rice. Bottle gourd has fiber (easy to digest) and high water content, which is exactly what you need to feel better. Also, increase your fluid intake to prevent dehydration.
Honestly, what we shared with you in this article are no longer well-guarded secrets, and neither were they meant to be. So, if you know someone who would benefit from reading this article and manifesting these secrets into their lives, go ahead and share with them.