The Doshas and Your Digestion

Did you know that 95% of serotonin, the mood stabilizer and feel good hormone, is actually produced from you gut? That statistic alone shows just how important our digestion really is, and how much it has been underplayed in the world of conventional medicine.

The basis of all health starts with the gut and a good digestion is the absolute key to optimal wellness both physically and mentally.

In Ayurveda, the strength of the digestion is known as Agni. Agni translates to digestive fire, and is responsible for the breakdown of food into Ahara Rasa (the purest essence of food, absorbable nutrients). This ahara rasa is then sent through the liver and channels (srotas) to make up all the tissues within our body.

The best way to look at Agni is to imagine a beautiful and vibrant bon fire. Our goal is to keep that fire strong and vibrant. Now, let’s say we decide to throw cold water on it, what will happen? The fire will go out (cold water represents the consumption of cold foods/ iced drinks). If we put too much wood on the fire it will smother it (represents overeating), and if we do not put any wood on the fire then it will go out (represents starvation). Ayurvedic eating and lifestyle is purely adopted to this analogy. In order to obtain good health, we must keep our bon fire strong.

Now depending on your dosha, your digestive fire (Agni) will be slightly different. Each dosha, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, carries certain qualities or elements that impact our digestion.

Read below to see which digestion you have and ways to help balance!

Vata: Irregular Digestion

Vishama agni is most commonly reflected in those who are predominately Vata dosha or Vata imbalanced.

Vishama agni is variable and light. This results in scanty eating, lots of snacks, small meals, and a feeling of never being quite satisfied. Some days you may even skip meals all together. This type of agni results in built-up air, dryness, and coldness in the digestion. Gas and bloating is the largest indicator of Vishama agni, along with belching and even constipation.

To balance Vishama agni first build a routine with eating, make sure you are not skipping any meals and eat at the same time every day. Sip on ginger tea before and with meals to help with bloating. Consume foods that are going to be warm and grounding with lots of oils. No raw vegetable that increase the cold and dry quality. Eat slowly and in a relaxed environment, and consume spices such as ginger, cinnamon, ajwain, and cardamom.

Pitta: Hot and Sharp Digestion

Pitta Dosha is most commonly reflected in Tiksna Agni, tiksna means sharp in Sanskrit.

Tiksna agni is sharp, hot, and fast. Those with Tiksna agni are those who have a “strong” appetite for many foods. They experience “hangry” emotions to a point where the feeling of hunger seem quite unbearable. There may have cravings for foods that are hot and spicy, followed by cravings of cold foods (ice cream or raw veggies) to help cool the excess heat in their digestion. Acid reflux, indigestion, heart burn, and loose stools are all indicators of Pitta type agni.

To balance Tiksna agni it is best to slow down when eating. Do not let the uncontrollable hunger take the lead. Find a space to eat that is calm, relaxing and quiet. Consume foods that are going to be cooler in quality (not cold) such as, cucumber, zucchini, cilantro, summer squash, and asparagus. Any culinary herbs is great for Pita type agni. Sipping on CCF (cumin, coriander, fennel) tea will keep the digestion regular.

Kapha: Heavy and Slow digestion

Kapha dosha is most commonly reflected in Manda Agni, manda meaning slow in Sanskrit.

Kapha digestion is slow, dull, heavy, and damp. Those with Manda agni only prefer to eat one or two meals a day. Because of this slow digestion, after a meal they may feel very tired, heavy and sluggish, and may even prefer to take a nap. Those with Manda Agni tend to skip breakfast, which is actually preferred to do so in Ayurveda. In the later evenings and into the night is when they prefer to consume most of their calories.

To balance Manda agni is to help stimulate digestion and internal fire by sipping on 8 oz of warm lemon ginger water first thing in the morning. Tongue scraping on an empty stomach also helps stimulate digestion as well as going on brisk walks to help shake away the night time sluggishness. 1-2 meals is preferred for Kapha type agni and to have your last meal before the sun goes down. Spices such as turmeric, cayenne, ginger, black pepper, and clove are wonderful additions to add in drinks or cooking.

Which Dosha digestion are you? Which digestive tips are you curious to try first?

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