The Oriental concept of Ayurveda with its focus on balance and rejuvenation particularly focuses on the significance of the digestive system with regard to the overall balanced functioning of the human body.
According to the ancient science (around 5000 years old) of healing from India, Ayurveda, digestive system plays a decisive role in the overall balanced functioning of body. The complete physiology of the body including the circulatory, skeletal and nervous systems functions with a healthy digestive system only. Wrong eating habits coupled with the improper indulgence of senses upsets the digestive system functioning which then leads to the onset of diseases in body.
Ayurveda is about learning to eat in a way that is truly supportive of your entire being and it is a powerful tool for healing.
What is the foundation principle of Ayurveda?
Ayurveda maintains that like increases like and balances the opposites. Every diet and experience that we encounter has some or the other characteristic quality which need to be understood and appreciated. Our food should also possess the same quality that is needed to be balanced out to attain overall internal health.
What is digestive disorder according to Ayurveda?
‘Vata’, ‘Pitta’, and ‘Kapha’ are the natural substances in human physiology that are naturally balanced but gets disturbed or ‘dosh’ owing to wrong food choices and faulty eating habits. Consuming raw and uncooked food items upsets the vatta ; Oily and rich food upsets the pitta; and cold and moisture based food items disturbs the kaph. They all cause digestive system malfunctioning in human body in the form of gas, vomit, constipation, foul breath, dehydration, loose motion etc.
What are the various Ayurvedic home remedies for digestive disorder?
Ayurveda prefers food as the natural medicine and use herbs to treat the disorder only in the later stage. Ayurveda home remedies include a diet plan in which certain foods are allowed as the treatment medicine while on the other hand some foods are restricted as they cause imbalance or ‘dosh’in the body.
Foods to avoid
Food that is difficult to digest such as wheat, red meat, and refined sugar. The decrease the digestive fire (agni) and produce mucus and toxins (aam). Deep fried foods are also heavy to digest and highly vata increasing.
Food such as tomatoes, oranges, pineapples, lemons, grapefruits, vinegars and hot spices like chilies. These foods increase pitta and heat in the body and also reduce the digestive power.
Foods like yogurt, alcohol, cheese,marmite, veggie pâtes, soya sauce and beer. All fermented foods are sour in nature and therefore have pitta increasing qualities. Whenever there is too much pitta and heat in the intestines, fermentation is multiplied, thus resulting in gas and decreased digestive capacity.
Ice cold foods
They immedietly kills the digestive fire. They are best avoided totally, but if necessary then avoid them together and just before or after the meals.
They are devoid of real nutritional value, deplete the digestive fire and produce toxins in the body.
Foods as medicine
Foods like pumpkin, squashes, marrow, courgette, spinach, french beans, mange-tout, asparagus, fennel, sweet corn, onions, carrots, parsnips, beetroot, cellery, chicory and leeks.
Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, peppers, broad beans, kohlrabi and potatoes should only be taken occasionally. Raw vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, cellery, peppers should be avoided, but lettuce and all salad leaves can be taken at lunch time, before the meal and served with oil.
Mung and split mung beans, tur dal and red lentils are easy to digest, balancing and nourishing to the body. Chickpeas, chana dal, black-eyed and kidney beans should only be taken very occasionally and must be thoroughly soaked and well cooked. To get the full value from pulses they should be eaten together with grains. Tofu made from soya beans can also be enjoyed.
Rice, oat, rye, maize, millet, amaranth, quinoa, kamut, spelt, polenta. Flours made from the above grains and also from potatoe and buckwheat are excellent substitutes for ‘normal’ flour.
Bread should only be eaten when toasted as the dry heat stops further fermentation. Porridge made without milk, but with cinnamon and cardamom, coconut flakes, soaked raisins or stewed fruit is an ideal breakfast: easy to digest, highly nutritious, warming and energizing.
Seeds and nuts
Pumpkin, sesame, poppy and sunflower seed, pine nut, almond, walnut, hazelnut, pistaccio and brazil nut should be eaten in small qunatities as they are heavy to digest and increases the vata. They can best be converted to the milk. Peanut and cashew-nut should be not eaten. The flesh, milk, cream and flakes of coconuts can be used freely.
Apple, pear, apricot, grape, cherrie, plum, sweet berries, fresh fig, date and pomegranate. Bananas are very cold in energy and therefore to be eaten when cooked. They should not to be eaten while suffering from flu or fever.
Ghee is like a medicine and can be cooked with and added to anything. Normal butter is also good and better then margarines. Milk should be warm before taking it and can be alternatively spiced with ginger, cardamom, cinnamon or turmeric. Soya and rice milk are the bet alternatives for cow milk. Fresh cheeses such as quark, mozzarella, feta and ricotta are easier to digest then hard, old ones and are also less mucus producing. They are best enjoyed with some black pepper to stimulate agni.
Only white meat like that of chicken and turkey can be taken. Fish is very hot and pitta increasing in nature and therefore best avoided. Fresh water fish is better than the sea fish.
Refined sugar should be replaced by solidified sugar cane juice, raw cane sugar, date sugar, molasses, rice syrup or honey. Honey is not heat stable and becomes poisonous for the body when heated, cooked or baked.
Herbal teas and decaffeinated coffee are better than even the black tea. Ginger tea increases agni and removes toxins from the body. It is the best remedy for coughs and colds. However, if drunk regularly it would be too pitta increasing.
Spices like Cumin, coriander, fennel and saffron are the best for balancing all doshas, increasing agni and should be used freely. Black pepper, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, mustard seeds, nutmeg, all fresh herbs and onions, garlic and ginger should also be used. Asafoetida reduces vata and should be added when cooking pulses, cabbage and beans to reduce their gas producing properties.