According to Ayurveda, a healthy digestive fire (Agni) is the key to our entire health and well-being. Alternatively, the root cause of toxins and disease is improper digestion. I am a firm believer in this theory and have indeed seen it first hand throughout my practice. The causes and symptoms of each individual’s digestive issues may vary, but the one thing we know for certain is that the digestive force must be restored in order to prevent and/or treat any disorder.
Before going on one must first establish if they are experiencing any imbalance in the digestion. This may be very obvious to some while others may be experiencing more subtle, but also important symptoms of indigestion. Here is a list of the most common improper digestive symptoms to lookout for. The more severe the symptom, the more severe the issue. Similarly, if you are checking off many of the symptoms listed this is another indicator that action is needed and fast!
Common Symptoms of Digestive Imbalances:
- Gas, bloating, cramping, and/or gurgling
- Diarrhea or chronic loose stools
- Heaviness or sleepiness after food
- Slow metabolism
- Lack of appetite
- Coating on the tongue
- Bad breath
- Teeth marks around the perimeter of the tongue or other symptoms of malabsorption
- Acid reflux or heartburn
- Inflammation in the GI tract (i.e. gastritis, Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis, etc)
- Hyper-metabolism, excessively hungry
- General feelings of heaviness and lethargy
- Dull, foggy mind
- Aches and pains throughout the body or at the root of the hair
- Poor circulation
- Weakened immunity
Improper digestion is the main cause of toxic build-up (which further hampers the digestion and metabolism), weight gain, reduced energy levels, mental fog and fatigue, accelerated aging, and all disorder and disease. There is an unlimited amount of causes for digestive issues, however here are some common causes to look out for… and remember the first step in any treatment program is to remove the cause!
Common Causes of Digestive Imbalance:
- Emotional imbalances (anxiety, worry, fear, depression, anger, etc)
- Improper food combining
- Eating allergenic foods (dairy, wheat, gluten, soy, sugar, etc)
- Eating too late at night
- Constant grazing, excessive snacking
- Poor dietary choices
- Sleeping or lying down after food
- Eating on the go
- Gut flora imbalance (dysbiosis)
- Yeast infection or Candida
- Parasitical Infection
- Improper lifestyle habits
- Lack of sleep
So now that we have established an idea of both the causes and symptoms of improper digestion, let’s begin this 28-day journey for restoring a healthy and robust digestive fire.
Each week (for the next four weeks) we will establish:
- Foods to eliminate (meaning 100% gone)
- Foods to limit
- Foods to favor
- Ayurvedic dietary tip of the week
- Daily routine practice of the week
- Herbal regimen of the week
- Suggested recipe ideas
***Please note that each week we will be adding new recommendations. However, all of the previous recommendations should still be in effect throughout the entire program (and hopefully beyond)!
Healthy Digestion Challenge: WEEK 1
Week 1 Food Chart
Ayurvedic Dietary Tip of the Week:
Eat your largest meal mid-day.
The digestive fire, like the sun, is at its strongest point between the hours of 11am and 1pm. Therefore eating your biggest meal at this time allows for better digestion with a larger meal. Eating a larger meal mid-day also will help to sustain both the hunger and the appetite for the second half of the day when energy tends to wane.
Since the digestive fire is at its strongest point mid-day, meat, dairy and other heavy, hard-to-digest foods should be taken at this time only. This means that the dinner meal should be lighter both in quantity (i.e. smaller amount) as well as quality (i.e. lighter food types).
Daily Routine Practice of the Week
Drink a cup of hot water each morning upon awakening.
This simple yet powerful addition to your daily routine possesses multiple health benefits for your digestion and beyond. Drinking a cup of warm to hot water each morning before any other food or drink intake helps to flush the GI tract of toxins, while awakening the vital digestive organs for the day. It reduces the dehydration that naturally sets in from a long, fluid-free night of sleep, and it help to promote a healthy morning bowel movement. For extra health benefits, one can add in a squeeze of fresh lemon (best for Kapha and Vata) or fresh lime (best for Pitta).
Herbal Regimen of the Week:
CCF Tea stands for Cumin, Coriander and Fennel respectively. These three savory spices combined make for a powerful digestive aid when consumed between meals. While increasing the digestive fire, this tea blend will also work to gently flush toxins from the system. To make this herbal tonic even greater, it is very balanced and can be used by all dosha types and all digestive disorders. However, if there is hyperacidity present, one may have to reduce the amount of cumin in the recipe. Otherwise it can be made as recommended and taken as much as needed.
Directions: Make a large batch of the CCF Tea each morning. Drink 1 cup mid-morning (between breakfast and lunch), 1 cup mid-day (between lunch and dinner) and 1 cup before bed (at least 1 hour post-meal).
Week One Recap
Recipe Suggestions of the Week:
Kitchari is typically a “soup” of mung beans and basmati rice that is considered very balanced, highly nutritious, and easy-to-digest. It is often eaten as the only food intake during Ayurvedic cleanses, as it sustains the energy and nutrient levels of the individual while giving the digestive fire a much needed rest.
This particular kitchari recipe is considered “tri-doshic” meaning it is can be eaten by all body-types. It replaces the traditional basmati rice with whole grain quinoa which tends to be lighter in quality, less sticky and contains a much higher nutrient content (especially essential protein and fiber!). This recipe can be a staple recipe for the entire Healthy Digestion Challenge and longer if desired. Click here for the full recipe!
Our Simply Spiced Quinoa Porridge Recipe is a twist on the typical oatmeal breakfast, which some may find a bit heavy for their morning meal. Using whole grain quinoa, one obtains a high fiber content along with a decent dose of complete protein (meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids). Finally we made sure to add in many sweet, aromatic digestive breakfast spices to awaken the digestive force and start the day off right. Click here for the full recipe!
Here is a recipe a bit more hearty than the previous two. It is tasty, filling and nourishing while still remaining healthy and packed with essential vitamins and nutrients. If brown rice isn’t your cup of tea, one can always replace it with a lighter grain such as quinoa or millet. Click here for the full recipe!