Ayurveda Cooking - Ayurvedic Digestion                        

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Ayurvedic Digestion


Digestion is the process through which the foods we consume pass through our bodies and are directed toward the purposes of providing energy to the body or building new cellular materials in the body. Proper digestion of the food is very important for healthy body, mind and soul. If digestion is weak then even good food will be converted into low-grade nutrition and low-grade health. Our Agni or digestive fire plays an important role in digestion. It can be compared to a burning fire, when flame is low it takes a long time to cook the food or if it is very high it can burn the food. Our digestive fires should be balanced so that we can digest our meals efficiently and smoothly.

Factors that Affect Digestion Time
The digestion of food is closely related with the time of food consumption. Lunch is considered the main meal of day and advised to be the heaviest meal also. The ideal time prescribed for lunch is from 12 noon to 2 pm when sun is the highest in the sky. This is the greatest time to digest the food because we need heat to digest the food and at this time, the stomach is naturally the hottest in the day.  Hence, you can digest comparatively heavy and larger meal at lunch.Breakfast should be light, just enough to make you charged till

lunch. As lunch should be taken during early afternoon period, Dinner should ideally be eaten at least three hours before bed or before 8:00 p.m. In any case, avoid eating dinner after 10:00 p.m. because our body works to burn off toxins and digest food taken during the day at this time. If you eat after 10:00 p.m., the food may cause toxins to accumulate in the system, and as a result, the next day you wake up tired.
How You Eat

The digestion of food also depends on your eating pattern. Our bodies need a settled, calm atmosphere in order to process and absorb the nutrients from our meals. If we eat while standing, walking, or driving our way, our digestive system is interrupted and the food is not properly digested. On the contrary, when we eat sitting in clean and calm environment with settled state of mind our body and mind enjoy the flavors, textures, and aromas of food which greatly improve the digestion.

Digestive Fire or Agni

Our digestive capacity or the capacity to transforms food into healthy tissues is known as Agni or digestive fire in Ayurveda. The proper functioning of our body largely depends on the balanced Agni. If your digestive fire is weak the food will not be digested properly and you may feel exhausted and tired after eating. To improve the digestion eat a 1-inch piece of fresh ginger with a few drops of lemon juice and a few pinches of salt on it before a full meal. This will activate the salivary glands that produce the necessary enzymes for absorption of nutrients present in the food. Similarly, over-active Agni can also cause problems like, excessive internal heat and acidity. To balance the over-active Agni, pomegranate chutney should be taken.

Ayurveda also suggests avoiding cold drinks with meals and ice-cold foods in general. They act like cold water on the burning wood. Consuming cold drinks with meals suppress the digestive fire and adversely affect the immune system. It leads to fatigue and diseases. Cold water with meals is especially not advisable for the Vata and Kapha individuals.

If you want to have water or other drink at meals, then take it warm or at room temperature only. If you have a pitta imbalance you can have cool drinks in-between meals but too cold or frozen foods are not good for pitta either. Such foods temporarily cool down the heat, and imbalance continues. Pitta individuals should try slightly cool drinks made with rose water, or milk blended with dates or fresh mangos. Cold foods taken with warm cooked foods can cause stomach cramps, bloating and general discomfort in the stomach area. In general too avoid taking juice or milk right out of the refrigerator, as it is too cold for the digestion. Juice should be taken at room temperature and water without ice. Cold water should also be avoided during winter season, as the digestive fire is lower in this season.

Ayurveda strongly recommends the use of Lassi a yogurt drink for good digestion. Lassi can either be taken during or after the meal. It is best to have it at lunch or you can take it in breakfast also, but avoid lassi at dinner. Lassi is light and contains lactobacilli, necessary bacteria that lubricate the intestines to help digestion go smoothly. It also helps to reduce gas and bloating. Tasty to drink it makes your meal delicious, nutritious and more satisfying.

Recipes for Lassi

Sweet Lassi
1/4 cup fresh homemade yogurt,
1 cup room temperature water and
Sugar to taste
Few drops of Rosewater (optional)
Blend it for one minute in the blender and drink fresh.  


Salty Lassi

1 cup room temperature water
1/4 cup fresh homemade yogurt
1 pinch ground ginger (optional)
1 pinch ground cumin
1 pinch ground coriander
1 pinch salt
Blend for one minute. Drink after lunch. It is excellent drink for gas and bloating.

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