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Supporting Your Ayurvedic Lifestyle

 

What You Need to Know About Digestion & Your Dosha

posted in Ayurveda 101
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You probably know that your digestive system has a critical part to play in how healthy you are. We all have different appetites, and while some seem like they can eat everything under the sun, others suffer with heartburn, indigestion, and other issues. In Ayurveda, the nature of how you digest food is defined in terms of three doshas.

  1. Vata – You would be classed as a vata type individual if you suffer from constipation, irregular bowel movements, and a loss of appetite. Vata is a dosha classed as both variable and delicate.
  2. Kapha – If you have slow digestion but have a very good appetite, you would be defined as a kapha type. Kaphas normally, however, are prone to eating too much, leading to weight gain. I’m sure a lot of people would be classed in this category, but Ayurveda has many ways to help you out if you are!
  3. Pitta – Those who would be classed as pitta generally have the best metabolism out of the three doshas. Although they consume a lot of food, their bodies can digest it very quickly. They will have an excellent appetite but not gain the weight that others do. What lucky people!  They can, however, be prone to things like acid reflux and inflammations or ulcers. In Ayurveda, Pitta is essentially in charge of the GI tract and how well the acids and enzyme digest the food. Ayurvedic medicine therefore tries to help improve metabolism and digestion rate through the cultivation of something called agni.

Agni, which is also known as digestive fire, is essentially the measure of how well you metabolize food and convert it into energy. The stronger the Agni, the better your health is effectively.

Key to understanding Ayurvedic medicine, diet, and philosophy is that you must consider what exercise you should be doing, what foods you are eating, and what meditations you should practice during different times of year, as the seasons and environment also impact your digestion.

Different seasons can lead to the weakening of agni.  For example, in the fall, which is vata in nature, cold, dry, and windy weather can actually affect issues with digestion. People don’t always see this, but the human body shouldn’t have the same diet all year round. It is obvious that during summer you should have more to drink, but it is also important to remember this during the fall. The dryness doesn’t only have an effect on your skin, but also internally within your organs. Dryness can engender the vata dosha, which can consequently affect the strength of Agni. If you are vata-dominant already, this can have significant consequences which you may notice; so I would recommend looking at grounding, heavy foods rich in nutrition such as carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, acorns, and buttercup squashes.

Eating such nutritious foods can help to counteract the effects of the season and ensure your digestion and overall health are not damaged in any way. In this way, each of the doshas can impact your digestion. This includes not only the doshas of your own constitution, but the doshas of the seasons. Living in tune with these natural rhythms can leave you feeling healthy, energized, and ready to face everything in your day.

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The Importance of Healthy Digestion

The concept of agni, the Sanskrit word for ‘fire,’ is rather essential to the Ayurvedic tradition. Ayurveda views agni as the very source of life. It is said that a man is as old as his agni and that when agni is extinguished, we die. Perhaps even more significantly, Ayurveda teaches us that impaired agni is at the root of every imbalance and disease. Continue Reading >

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