Digestion, like respiration, is one of the bodily functions that keeps an organism alive. Poor digestion contributes to a host of maladies, some chronic, others life-threatening. The list of ailments suffered by those with a malfunctioning digestive system are long and include inflammation, poor absorbtion of vital life-giving nutrients, and premature aging.
The epidemic of bad bellies
Almost one billion dollars a year are spent on digestive aids in the United States. In fact, recent figures reveal that roughly 75 to 100 million Americans are suffering digestive troubles of some kind. When Canada, Europe, and Australia are included, that figure almost triples.
Yet the expenditure to treat digestive ailments in Asia is miniscule by comparison to the West. Why? The answer is the basic difference in approach to lifestyles and the Asian cultural philosophy of eating.
Most Americans aren’t aware a philosophy for eating exists. Yet many cultures far back into ancient times had a stringent philosophy that governed not only their emotions, meditations, attitudes, morals, and physical exercise, but also their eating habits and what they consumed.
While many Westerners over the past few decades have become more aware of the philosophies accompanying meditation, physical activity, and the martial arts, few are cognizant of the philosophy, or way of life, that serves as the foundation for a lifetime of good health.
Ayurveda, a 6,000-year-old holistic health science, relies on the three energies that compose the three physiologies every individual has throughout life. These energies are called doshas.
An expert on Ayurveda, Nadya Andreeva, explains the three dosha types:
Vatha Dosha is an “energy that controls bodily functions associated with motion, including blood circulation, breathing, blinking, and your heartbeat.” When balanced you’ll experience increased energy and creativity. Conversely, fear and anxiety surface if vatha dosha is out of balance.
Pitta Dosha is an “energy that controls the body’s metabolic systems, including digestion, absorption, nutrition, and your body’s temperature.” A balanced state promotes contentment and better thinking. Lack of balance leads to shortness of temper, stress and even ulcers.
Finally, Kapha Dosha is an “energy that controls growth in the body. It supplies water to all body parts, moisturizes the skin, and maintains the immune system.” Properly balanced this dosha brings deeper feelings of emotional love and promotes compassion. Those whose kapha dosha is out of balance, however experience acute insecurity and sometimes uncontrollable envy or jealousy.
According to the Ayurveda the basic building blocks of good digestion start with awareness of food combinations; the addition of daily, fresh lemon juice tonics that flush the liver; and fresh ginger that helps to neutralize poisonous build-ups in the body. Ginger is also proven to increase the efficiency of digestion and the proper absorption of food and nutrients.
Some of the instruction the Ayurveda provides sounds similar to the advice that mothers give their children. While that may strike some as humorous, the sad fact is too many children grow up to be adults that completely forget the good eating advice their mothers once provided.
While simple and brimming with common sense, these consumption disciplines are ignored by most Westerners, to their ultimate discomfort and ill health.
Follow the regimen and any digestive ailments will gradually disappear almost like magic. But it isn’t magic. It is working with the three doshas and the physiology of the body.
These OTC remedies will not cure bad digestion
Those who rush through meals are not saving time or money. They are actually losing both for when the digestive system goes astray time is spent suffering, mental confusion and stress increase, and money is most likely spent on products like laxatives, antacids, anti-gas medicines, and probiotics.
Money spent on over-the-counter “cures” is money misspent.
If just a little time is instead invested with eating properly, eating slowly, and keeping the digestive system and other organs in balance, much money can be saved and physical discomfort avoided.
Keep this in mind: do not to eat foods with other foods that trigger rotting, curdling, or the release of toxins in the stomach (that end up in the bloodstream). For more information on food combinations to avoid see Proper Food Combining.
One of the best fruits to include in the diet is papaya. The papaya boosts production of the all-important digestive enzymes and also works hard to break down high protein foods.
Finally, to keep all the doshas in balance it’s important to supress inflammation. Most all health experts agree that inflammation is the number one result of poor diet, bad eating habits, and erratic eating schedules. Unchecked, inflammation can spread through the body eventually affecting the circulatory system, other organs, and joints. Certain kinds of inflammation may even lead to cancer.
Of all substances leading to inflammation, sugar presents the highest risk. Traditional Asian diets include sugar sparingly. The overuse of sugar is the leading cause of chronic inflammatory diseases in the Western world today.
Caution: these won’t provide long term digestive health
The physicians in India also strongly advise adding the spice turmeric to many dishes daily. Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory as it contains curcumin.
Once the three doshas are in balance and the digestive tract is working correctly, a greater sense of well-being, clarity and focus will be the rich reward.