Do you experience sluggish digestion? Wet coughing after meals? Gas and bloating? Difficulties with elimination? Something else equally unpleasant? Or maybe you’re just looking for some digestive TLC?
All of our digestive processes are driven by an inner form of fire known as “agni”. Agni can get tamped down and suppressed by stress, poor diet, physical weakness, unprocessed emotions, and many other factors. Thinking about our guts as little alchemical crucibles that transform food into energy is helpful in imagining ways in which we can strengthen our digestion.
As we approach the hot summer season, when fire is at its height, it’s a fine time to evaluate the state of our digestive system. Try some of these tips to rekindle your digestive fire and get the most out of your meals.
1. Limit your intake of fluids during and around meal times
Just like water on a campfire, liquids during mealtime can squelch your digestive fire. It can feel like you’re helping your digestion by “washing things down” with water, but this isn’t the case. When you chew food completely and allow yourself to salivate instead of drinking water, your digestive system can really do its stuff. You might even experience that good, fiery feeling in your gut. Plan your water consumption for in-between meals, and always aim to drink a glass of water first thing in the morning.
2. Don’t be ginger with the Ginger
Digestively speaking, you can’t go wrong with this classic “go to” herb for digestive wellness. Ginger increases nutrient absorption, stimulates the digestive juices, increases appetite, calms a nervous stomach, relieves nausea, breaks up painful gas, and the list goes on. Drinking ginger tea, chewing ginger root, or eating ginger candy before a meal is a great way to build your digestive fire and absorb the most nutrients from your food.
3. Bitter up
Digestive bitters are an age-old solution to sluggish digestion, and sluggish digestion is a result of low agni. The bitter taste on the tongue instantly stimulates the digestive system and gets the juices flowing. Bitters free up your digestive fire by breaking up mucous that’s trapped in the gut. Many of the herbs in bitters formulas are also known as “hepatics”, which strengthen, tone, and stimulate the liver. These herbs support the liver in breaking down fats, assimilating nutrients, and secreting fiery digestive juices. Bitters are especially helpful if taken before a heavy meal.
4. All hail Triphala
At Smile, we end up recommending Triphala for almost everyone who walks in the door. Triphala helps to normalize all of our digestive processes, making everything run smoothly. It strengthens the digestive organs and gently cleanses the tissues, removing decades of built-up gunge from the intestinal walls. Whether your symptoms include gas, bloating, inflammation, reflux, constipation, nausea, diarrhea, blockages, dry stool, excess mucous, general discomfort…OR you just want to do yourself a favor, Triphala can help.
5. Hot Water
Treat yourself to one of the simplest digestive remedies known to humankind- a mug of hot water! Warm water softens and dislodges intestinal blockages, relieves gas, and encourages bowel movements. In Ayurveda, hot water is recommended daily for the removal of “ama”, the sticky plaque of unprocessed food and accumulated toxins. Drink a mug of hot water first thing in the morning to kick-start your digestive system. Add lemon for an extra boost.