Your stomach is like a fire. Food is like the logs you put on the fire, to burn up
and use as fuel for your body. What happens when you put DAMP logs on the
fire?...Exactly, it puts the fire out!
Eating the wrong type of food for your body is like putting damp logs on your
fire. It puts out your fire, weakens your digestion and leads to bloating or
inflammation in your gut.
I use this explanation time and time again during my consults, but it wasn’t until
I started preparing for a workshop I realized that this analogy come from my
Digestive fire is called the Sanskrit term “Agni” in Ayurvedic medicine.
Ayurveda teaches that your health and wellbeing depends on our ability to
digest EVERYTHING we take in from the environment. This includes not only
what we eat and drink, but also our experiences and emotions.
Anyone who has experienced trauma, or been over whelmed by a situation will understand how this can weaken your system and “put out your fire”.
I LOVE how Ayurvedic medicine includes emotions when talking about our digestion, as it is so intermittently linked. Western medical science is only recently catching up with studies of the Enteric Nervous system.
Our gut has been termed our “second brain’ because many of the neurotransmitters we expect to find in the brain are also found in our gut! For example Did you know 95% of Serotonin is made in our GUT? When you are low in serotonin you can experience insomnia and depression, notissues we would automatically link to our digestive health.When our digestive ability, or Agni is strong, we create healthy tissues andeliminate waste products efficiently.Improper eating weakens our digestion.
How many of us eat on the run? OurParasympathetic Nervous System controls our ‘rest and digest’ functions. This isactivated when we sit down, relax and focus on our food. When we are busy,stressed and eating on the run it is our Sympathetic Nervous system or ‘fight andflight’ which is active. The energy is going to our muscles to get ready for action,not to our digestion. When we say some one has a hard time ‘switching off’ theyare stuck in their Sympathetic nervous system and won’t be digesting very well.
A prayer of Gratitude helps us tune in to our bodies, appreciate what we areeating, where the food came from, and how important these nutrients are forour body. How many of us practice this mindfulness during mealtimes? Negative emotional energy affects our digestion, such as anger, depression, andanxiety. It can literally “tie your stomach in a knot”. It works both ways. When there are a lot of toxins in your gut it affects your emotions too. For examplewhen you are constipated it is common to feel “shitty’ and quick to anger. When my patients clean up their diet they always comment on how clear headed theybecome.
An unhealthy daily routine such as skipping meals, or eating late at night willaffect how well you digest, as will lack of activity according to the Ayurvedicphilosophy, and many of us know from experience to be true. When digestion is weakened we produce toxins that get stored in the body.
According to Ayurveda this toxic residue known as “Ama’ is the root cause ofdisease.Yoga & meditation can be very helpful by calming the nervous system andhelping to release stored toxins or ‘ama’ from the body.We can never truly heal by focusing on one area of our life, but instead need totake a holistic approach.
The food that we put in our mouth is vitally importantfor good digestion, but so too are positive emotions, exercise, routine, gratitudeand mindfulness. Worrying about what you are eating, can cause anxiety whichwill then weaken your digestion. Remember food is to be enjoyed!When your Agni or Digestive fire is STRONG you can digest anything!
How to Keep your Fire Strong
●Mediate on a regular basis 30min morning and night
●Daily Movement – yoga / daily walk
●Don’t over eat
●Sip on Ginger tea through out the day (grate ginger into water)
●Bitters – eat with meals ie rocket, watercress, mustard greens, herbalmedicine
●Limit intake of fluids during meal times – just like a campfire, liquid duringmeal time can put out your digestive fire.
●Largest meal at lunchtime
●Say a prayer of Thanks before each meal
●Release negative emotions