Digestion isn't easy. In fact, digestion is a metabolic monster consuming up to 60% of your daily metabolism. Since it is such an energy hog, you have to pay close attention to it. Ancient Ayurvedic practitioners were so mindful of digestion they worshipped a god of digestion called agni. They knew how important and difficult digestion really is, so they approached their digestion with awe, wonder and a sense of the sacred. While we don't suggest you worship agni in order to heal your digestion, we do recommend a healthy respect for digestive organs.
By the incredible feat of digestion, when you eat an apple it becomes a part of your body. And whether the apple is hot or cold, acidic or basic, sugary or bitter, your digestion neutralizes these qualities and transforms them into the building blocks of living human flesh. That's pretty amazing right? But that's not all, good digestion brings you clarity, lightness, energy, vitality, and resilience to disease. Good digestion brings joy and enthusiasm. Finally, good digestion confers beauty and a fragrant aroma.
Indigestion Causes DiseaseThe opposite is also true. Without good food & digestion you can't build good blood. If you make poor food choices, cannot produce the right enzymes, or cannot absorb nutrients properly, you will not be able to build good blood. Some argue that good digestion is even more important than good nutrition. That's because when you can't digest your food, you can't extract the nutrients from it. Either way, when you're not digesting your food correctly, you simply cannot build the best blood, and your health suffers.
More insidiously, when your digestion is weak, bacteria proliferate in the unabsorbed food. They multiply rapidly in your intestines, leading to a process of fermentation, gas, & bloating. Ever wonder why gas smells? It smells because of the waste products of these bacteria - literally bacterial feces and urine. These waste products are highly toxic and smelly, turning your digestive tract into a veritable sewer. Those who are mindful of health will take precautions to prevent indigestion not only because it leads to nutrient deficiency, but because it cascades into this rapid buildup of poisons.
Undigested food tends to sit, and stagnant in the intestines. As bacteria turns the food in your gut rotten, your immune system has to fight these bacteria to prevent them from infesting your body. Your immune system must also break down the poisons in your gut. This both exhausts and overstimulates your immune system, leaving you prone to disease, food allergies, and auto-immune disorders..
Bacteria aren't the only organisms that thrive when digestion is weak. Parasites love indigestion. When your digestion is strong, your enzymes, especially the acids in the your stomach, naturally kill ingested parasites. But if your digestion is weak, these parasites survive and infest the small intestine.
Ayurveda has a special name called ama for the poisons produced by critters in your gut. Whether you are suffering from chronic skin issues, mood disorders, or even aches and pains, poisonous ama is often the silent cause. Muscle tissue and nerve tissue are among the most sensitive tissues to ama. When I had poor digestion from years of traveling overseas I developed heart palpitations due to ama. Once I healed my digestion with Ayurveda, the heart palpitations went away. When you have indigestion, you also feel emotionally disturbed from the buildup of ama. Mild buildup of ama causes simple dissatisfaction with your life, anger and anxiety. Medium buildup causes general discomfort and malaise as well. In advanced conditions like mine were, you may get heart palpitations as well.
Digestion is an Opportunity to HealAs awe inspiring as digestion is, it is not beyond your influence. In fact, your influence over your own food choices & digestive capacity is one of the greatest opportunities you have to influence your blood chemistry, and therefore your health. Anytime you take medicine, the first interaction of your body with the medicine happens in the digestive tract. The most profound way your body interacts with your environment - food or medicine, is by eating it. Food and digestion is where your body meets nature in the most profound way, a fact you can harness to your advantage. In short, your influence over your digestion can be a determining factor in your state of health and wellness.
The benefits of good digestion, and the evils of indigestion make digestion relevant to many, if not all, of your clients' lives. That's why, for over 5,000 years, Ayurveda has believed that diet and digestion is the first step to health.
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About the AuthorJohn Immel, the founder of Joyful Belly, teaches people how to have a healthy diet and lifestyle with Ayurveda. His approach to Ayurveda exudes a certain ease, which many find enjoyable and insightful. John also directs Joyful Belly's School of Ayurveda , which specializes in digestive tract pathology & Ayurvedic nutrition. John and his wife Natalie recently published Explore Your Hunger: A Guide to Hunger, Appetite & Food.
John's interest in Ayurveda and digestive tract pathology was inspired by a complex digestive disorder acquired from years of international travel, including his public service work in South Asia. John's commitment to the detailed study of digestive disorders reflects his zeal to get down to the roots of the problem. His hope and belief in the capacity of each & every client to improve their quality of life is nothing short of a personal passion. John's creativity in the kitchen and delight in cooking for others comes from his family oriented upbringing. In addition to his certification in Ayurveda, John holds a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Harvard University.
John enjoys sharing Ayurveda within the context of his Catholic roots, and finds Ayurveda gives him an opportunity to participate in the healing mission of the Church. Jesus expressed God's love by feeding and healing the sick. That kindness is the fundamental ministry of Ayurveda as well.
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