How Digestion is not just about Digestion

Updated: Mar 7

Last week we began our study of digestion in my year-long course. We’ve been looking at the state of our digestive fire--agni--and learning about how to work with imbalances there through practices in how and when we eat.

We've been learning about ama--toxicity--and how it is formed through undigested foodstuff, and what we can do to prevent ama formation, or support our bodies to digest it once it forms.

This week we'll focus more on what to eat in relation to the seasons and our own constitution. We spend a lot of time dialing in these habits because in Ayurveda digestion is not just about digestion.

How is digestion not just about digestion?

In this work, we recognize 6 stages of the disease process, and the first 2 happen in the digestive tract. These patterns of indigestion are our first sign that things are out of whack. Catch and treat it here and we've stopped the disease process in its tracks. Ignore it or simply cover over the symptoms, and we drive the imbalance deeper into our system, creating the seeds for a more serious health issue down the road. 

Seriously, taking care of the belching and farting is soooo much easier than dealing with colitis or IBS, or colon cancer.

Digestion is not just about digestion—it’s also about the roots of our good or poor health going forward.

Untreated digestive issues lead to deeper issues within the gut (ulcers, colitis, IBS, cancers) but also to deeper systemic issues due to ama lodging in joints and deeper tissues (arthritis, fibromyalgia, muscle aches). This is where our personal genetics come in, our individual “weak links” (genetic predispositions for illness and the imprint of past illness/accident/surgery), for these, are the places ama will lodge in individual bodies.

We accumulate toxins from our environment, from poor dietary and lifestyle choices, from chronically over-eating (regardless of whether we gain weight), and from the excesses of a particular season. Ayurveda uses seasonal cleansing to support the body in releasing the excess and supporting its overall function. Register here for the spring cleanse.

And while it's true our bodies are equipped with organs that cleanse all the time--we eliminate through feces, urine, and sweat-our kidneys filter our liquid waste, and our liver filters our blood: our lungs and nasal passageways filter the air we breathe and release the excess as CO2; our lymphatic system similarly helps clear out the muck--still we have to deal with the problems associated with overuse and abuse of those organs through poor lifestyle and dietary choices.

Just like a poorly driven automobile, whose brakes blow out too soon, or whose oil burns too hot, we tax our systems through our irregular diet and lifestyle practices, and our digestive and eliminative organs don't function at par. Seasonal cleansing supports your body in repairing and then doing what it is designed to do more efficiently.

Signs that you need to cleanse:

  • imbalanced digestion: acidity, gas, burping, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, unstable appetite.

  • brain fog: memory problems, lack of clarity

  • lack of appetite

  • tired after meals