Ayurveda teaches digestion is the most influential bodily process on our health. Digestion includes what we eat, what we assimilate, and what we eliminate. If we are not assimilating our foods properly, our tissues can be depleted, infiltrated with toxins, and disease can ensue.
Digestion is the epicenter of our immune system, and primary door way through which all nutrients and pathogens enter. Healing the intestinal tract is imperative for anyone who wants to live a healthy lifestyle. Proper functioning digestion influences all states of health, contributes to disease, and can be a powerful catalyst in disease reversal.
How Do You Know If Your Digestion Is Working Optimally?
There is a great deal we can learn about the function of our body simply by observing our bowel movement.
When digestion is functioning optimally, there is no pain or discomfort, gas, bloating, abdominal distention, belching, or burning. You should have at least one, well formed (banana shaped), bowel movement each day that is 6-12 inches in length. It should come out effortlessly.
Healthy craving for foods that truly nourish the body also indicate strong digestion. Strong craving for sugars indicate bacterial imbalance, systemic toxins and imbalanced digestion. Thin bowel movements indicate a lack of fiber and/or inflammation. Light colored stool indicates inadequate liver/gallbladder function. Formless bowel movements that stick to the side of the toilet indicate a lack of digestive enzymes, poor fat assimilation and systemic toxicity. Take our digestive quiz to identify your digestive tendency.
What Can You Do To Improve Digestion?
The best thing you can do to help heal your digestion is cleanse the body. When we cleanse our body we allow our digestive tracts to rest. In this resting phase the digestive system is able to heal. When we are continually breaking down foods that we consume we deprive our body of the ability to heal itself.
That said, there are several ways to let the digestive system rest and choosing which one is best for you depends on several factors such as current toxicity levels, digestive strength, and current lifestyle responsibilities. Working with a trained cleanse expert can help you develop an ideal program for you that addresses your unique concerns.
At Hamsa, we utilize juice cleansing, soup fasting methods, and healing herbs that help repair the intestinal lining so that your digestion begins working optimally again. Book a consultation or cleanse program with Monica Yearwood, Hamsa’s Cleanse Expert and Ayurvedic Practitioner for your personalized program.
Including probiotic rich and alive foods are also important for digestive health. However, introducing these foods to quickly or if there is a bacterial or yeast imbalance can cause discomfort (gas, bloating, emotional irritability). In which case, using natural antiobiotics such as coconut oil, peppermint oil, or garlic can help balance gut bacteria. Blood alteratives such as burdock root, dandelion root or manjistha can also help to destroy pathogenic bacteria while repopulating the gut.
Learn about ‘The Belly Warmer’ — a delicious morning drink for healing the GI Tract. Make the recipe.
Using intestinal healers such as marshmallow root, licorice root and ghee can reduce inflammation in the gut and improve nutrient assimilation. And avoiding trigger foods that cause inflammation such as coffee, alcohol and processed foods can greatly improve digestive strength and quality of life.
2-Methods To Heal Digestion
Below, read 2-ways you can let your digestive system rest and enjoy a soup that is good for digestion that I named ‘Resting Soup.’
1. Eat At Regular Times
Ayurvedic cleanse programs emphasize eating at regular times for health reasons. Today we know that eating times have powerful influences on circadian rhythm function and weight. Ayurveda teaches that our digestive system runs in tandem with the sun’s cycle. That our digestion is the strongest, when the sun is the strongest between the period of 10am – 2pm each day. Our digestive system’s strength declines after 2pm. According to circadian rhythm studies our insulin levels decline after 2pm and our melatonin levels naturally increase. Both of these natural cycles are interrupted when we eat large meals. Recent studies show that human beings lose significant weight, or maintain healthy weight, when they eat most of their calories before 2pm each day compared to others who eat the same caloric value spread through out the day.
2. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting is a term and practice that is becoming increasingly popular but has been a part of ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. A gentler approach to water or juice fasting, intermittent fasting requires the complete abstinence from food for an 8-36 hour period. This period can begin at night and end in the morning. In my practice, I use an ayurvedic method of intermittent fasting, and I use this method in most of my weight loss programs. In ayurvedic intermittent fasting practices, we have the last meal of the day sometime between 10am – 2pm.
Cathy’s Kapha Reducing Cream of Spinach Soup (Vegan)
Increases: Vata & Pitta
Best during: Late Winter & Spring
This soup is a powerful kapha reducer. Stimulating to the lymphatic system, it is cleansing and increases digestive fire. Garlic, yellow onion, and leek are pungent. According to ayurveda, pungent taste is both heating and drying. In general, pungent is provoking to both pitta (which is already hot) and vata (which is already dry). Kapha is both wet and cold. Therefore, pungent taste is therapeutic for kapha dosha. Pungent is also antibacterial, antimicrobial, destroys ama (toxins), and krumi (worms).
Pungent taste is required by all the doshas in some amounts. It is especially useful during times of excess kapha (cold, flu, mucous conditions). This soup, can be medicinal at the end of a cold or when trying to get rid of the last bits of congestion or cough.
Spinach is both astringent and bitter. On its own it is a therapeutic food item for kapha dosha, but spinach can be prepared for either pitta or vata. Spinach is in season during the Fall, Spring and Summer. It is naturally high in Vitamins A, C, K, folate; lutein and zeaxanthin antioxidants.
Parsley is also high in Vitamins C and K. The flavonoids in parsley—especially luteolin—have been shown to function as antioxidants and help prevent oxygen-based damage to cells. In addition, extracts from parsley have been used in animal studies to help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood.
1 Medium Yellow Onion, chopped
1 Leek (white part only), sliced
1 Bay Leaf
1 T coconut oil
1 Garlic Bulb, roasted
2 Large Celery Stalks, chopped
4 C strong vegetable stock
1 Bunch Organic Spinach, chopped
1/2 Bunch Parsley, chopped
1/2 Cup Raw Cashews
Celtic Sea Salt
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wrap garlic bulb in foil and roast for 30 minutes.
In a stock pot, add coconut oil, bay leaf, onion, leak, and celery and saute until onion becomes translucent. Add vegetable stock. Squeeze roasted garlic into stock and cook until the vegetables are tender (about 15 minutes). Remove bay leaf.
Put cashews in a high speed blender. Add 1/4 C of vegetable stock. Blend until creamy and smooth.
Add spinach and parsley to soup stock and turn off heat.
Add soup to cashew mix in the high speed blender and blend until desired consistency is reached.
Salt and white pepper to desired taste.
Serve with quartered lemon.
Top with ghee if desired