On the physical level, digestion is the single most important determinant of good health because the quality of your digestion is directly related to the ability of your body to absorb nutrients in order to build quality, healthy tissues, supply energy for your day, destroy pathogens, and render the food acceptable to your system. Being healthy isn't just what you eat or how you eat it, it is also whether your digestive system can process it and eliminate the wastes.
Your digestive system is like a cooking fire. In order to digest your food, it must have the right temperature and cook in an even manner. The digestive fire is not only critical for properly absorbing nutrients to help run your body, but also for preventing undigested food from becoming a toxic breeding ground for illness and dis-ease.
Unfortunately, few people today know what a healthy digestion is supposed to look and feel like. Instead symptoms of gas, irregular bowel movements, indigestion, bloating, heartburn, post-eating lethargy are so commonplace that they are considered normal.
Such symptoms are actually clues from your body-mind that something is out of balance. In Ayurveda, the ancient holistic medical system from India, disease is said to first start in the mind for it is from your beliefs and thoughts you take actions that either support or detract from health. These actions then create imbalance in the digestive system which is the root of the three life forces that govern the body and mind and, when out of balance, are the root of dis-ease. If these life forces continue to build in their imbalance, they will eventually spread to other areas of the body creating more symptoms and increasing the severity of the illness.
Your digestive system is working correctly when you have the following signs:
- A Moderate and Regular Appetite: your appetite will be regular so that you are hungry about three times a day and will be satisfied after eating a moderate amount of mildly spiced foods.
- Regular, Easy Elimination: every day you should have at least one bowel movement that is formed, moderate in size, easy to release and brownish color similar to the look of milk chocolate.
- Lack of Digestive Symptoms: you should not have any regular symptoms such as gas, bloating, indigestion, burning, acid reflux, lethargy or heaviness after eating, or nausea. Through the natural flows of the life forces, you will occasionally get mild and fleeting cases of these symptoms but any regular pattern is a cue that there is a problem.
- Overall Good Signs of Health: you will have a strong immune system, clear complexion, good circulation, adequate energy to carry you through your daily activities, and pleasant breath and body odor. Your senses and your mind will be sharp and clear as well.
To balance your digestive system and restore your body to health, Ayurveda uses non-invasive, natural tools such as herbs, diet, healthy eating guidelines, sense and body therapies, and lifestyle modifications.
©2012, Jamie Durner, Ayurvedic Natural Health Practitioner and Wellness Educator