Our health is sum of what eat and how we eat… and this all depends on the process of digestion and absorption. Ayurveda invites us to look more deeply into this…!!! Let’s have a look on qualities of food what we are eating and how it affects or digestion.
Digestion: - digestion is the process by which we break down what is coming in from our outer environment in order to make it an integral part of our inner environment. Absorption is the process by which we integrate these digested elements into our cells. Elimination is the process by which we integrate these digested elements into our cells. Elimination is the means by which we let go of any unneeded elements, digested & not. How well the balance between these three processes is working dictates to great extent how well-nourished we are, and how good we feel.
In Ayurveda the keys to fine digestion are good health, strength, and agni or digestive fire. Agni translates in Western terms into that ability of all the digestive organs to be lively, effective and coordinated in function when given an appropriate amount of food. This “appropriate amount of food” is an important part of the effective digestive process. Too much food can act like sand on fire, dousing agni, and demanding more work of it than it can realistically deliver. Too little food can starve agni, like expecting fire to burn brightly with but a few twigs to fuel it. In these days of intense focus on dieting, obesity and anorexia, determining what is too much and what is too little can be loaded question. Yet the reality is that your body, when balanced can tell you how much you need through the simple messages of hunger and satiation. You can trust these messages. The thing is that it can sometimes take a long while- weeks, months or years – to create the inner balance, depending on your particular circumstances. The important thing is to know that it can be done.
The power of digestion always depends upon bodily strength. And the maintenance of strength is dependent upon good digestion. If you are having trouble with either your health or digestion, do not be discouraged. Know that each need is important and suggest something. Now question how can you know if your digestion is good? The well greased machine moves smoothly with little sound and commotion. If you are experiencing gas, bloating, irritation, burping, belching, or what not….now you need attention and some assistance.
In ayurveda, one takes into account both the food and how it is prepared and combined. In general food that are light ( laghu) by Ayurvedic standards are easiest to digest, while heavier(guru) are more difficult to digest. There is wide variety of food which are light, including lettuce, munga, etc also there are variety of food are heavy as cheese, banana, black lentils lentils. These heavier foods are useful for strengthening, grounding and nourishing, take more energy in digestion so best use in smaller quantities. Light foods can be taken in greater quantities and tend to stimulate appetite and digestion. Heavy foods by nature suppress appetite.
Foods are also classified as hot (ushna) or cold (shita) in Ayurveda. Foods considered hot by Ayurvedic standards stimulate digestive fire. These include most spices, chillis, garlic, yoghurt, red lentils and honey among others. Cold foods will tend to calm/or slow down digestion; these include milk, coconut, dill, and coriander, to name a few. A balance of cooling and heating foods and spices is optimal for best digestion. The concept of heating and cooling is widespread in many cultures. And yet there is much disagreement between cultures.