"When diet is right, medicine is of no need; when diet is wrong, medicine is of no use." -Ayurvedic Proverb
Right diet, according to Ayurveda, is as varied as there are individuals. You might be surprised to learn the Ayurveda does not espouse vegetarianism, or veganism. Right diet is an individual matter, and it can change as we change and move through different stages of life. Ideally what we eat shifts as the seasons shift, so we're eating a variety of different plants and their prebiotic goodness throughout the year.
Did you know that we can create a healthy microbiome by eating 30 different plants in a week? Plants include grains, beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds. If we can include seasonal plants in our diet, in a variety each week, and then supplement with high quality meats and dairy (if those are part of your diet) we'll be well on the way to creating good health by the food we eat. Current research into the science of the microbiome supports this idea: a strong microbiome underlies everything from good mood to immunity and longevity.
Fast foods, packaged foods, processed foods, white sugar, etc should be eaten sparingly if at all.
I invite my Ayurveda clients to make a list of 10 foods they digest easily and well. These are important "go to" foods anytime you are under the weather or overwhelmed, as your body can easily digest them and make good use of them.
I also invited folks to list 10 foods that are always challenging on digestion. These are best avoided or greatly minimized, especially, when not feeling robust.
One simple way to assess your digestive strength is to ask yourself how hungry you were for breakfast this morning. If you have to think about it, your agni, or digestive fire, is likely compromised.
Good, strong hunger is a sign of strong digestion. Giving your body time to digest one meal before eating another (or snacking) is an effective way to re-stoke your digestive fire (called Agni in Ayurveda). This is important because this central agni, experienced as your appetite, regulates 40 other important metabolic processes in the body, like thyroid function and liver function. So supporting appetite by not overwhelming agni through snacking or over eating, supports overall metabolic health.
If digestion isn't functioning well, you can eat all the healthy food you like, but you won't receive the same benefit from it as you would if you could digest, absorb and assimilate it well, making good quality tissue out of the nutrients, and discarding the rest as waste.
Indigestion, like belching, acid indigestion, nausea, burping, farting, bloating and releasing bad smelling gas is often caused by overeating, eating when not hungry, eating bad combinations of foods, or eating foods you can't digest well (or a combination).
A few burps or farts is normal, but when digestion becomes a noticeable event, or is accompanied by uncomfortable or embarrassing symptoms, you can be sure agni is not functioning well, and that's impacting not just your gut, but your entire metabolic system.
When digestion is not functioning well, we leave behind a residual undigested "food stuff" which is toxic to the body. In Ayurveda we call this substance AMA.
Ama is something the body sees as other. This sticky, morbid substance lingers first in the stomach, and if not treated there, circulates through the bloodstream bringing fevers, allergic reaction and skin eruptions. If not treated there, it will lodge in fascia and joints, and eventually, in the deeper tissues of the body.
Ama is the root cause of many disease processes, the specifics of which depend on your genetics. Wherever the weak links are in your genetic inheritance, those are the places that will be magnets for AMA. This is where diet and lifestyle, epigenetics, can create the conditions for health instead of disease. If we don't create ama, or we learn how to get rid of it in it's early stages, we stave off or prevent altogether those deeper impacts.
Signs of Ama
Loss of appetite.
Foul taste in your mouth in the morning.
Thick coating on your tongue in the morning.
Fatigue after meals.
Foul-smelling body odor and elimination.
Dull hair and skin.
Muscle and joint pain not due to exercise.
Feeling crummy: low energy; brain fog,
Ama and Menopause
Did you know that monthly menstruation functions as a mild, regular detox for women? Once you start missing cycles in late perimenopause, or stop cylcing altogether post menopause, you don't receive this monthly detoxification. But you can still align with lunar rhythms, and pick a time each month for gentle purification and rebalancing. This allows for a gentle removal of ama and supports good functioning agni. I teach my post menopausal women to do this, and its a beautiful way to support good health post menopause, and be free of unwanted symptoms post menopause, like hot flashes.
Confused about the best foods for your body-type? Recognize some signs of toxicity or low functioning agni in your body?
Go here to schedule a FREE discovery call with me. I'd love to find out what's going on with you, and let you know how an Ayurvedic approach could clarify intuitive eating and support your metabolic health.