Digestion; 3 Bite-Sized Ways to Support The Central Process

In Western culture, we put an astonishingly poor emphasis on the quality of our digestion. A recent survey concluded that 61% or roughly 3 out of 5 people in America are experiencing GI symptoms. That’s not natural! The issue is we were never taught how to nurture and strengthen our digestive health. It’s only after our body becomes dysfunctional and we start producing symptoms of distress that we pay attention to what’s going on in there (*Cue jingle from the Pepto-Bismol commercial). But what do you think would happen if people understood that having optimal digestion could give them what they are desperately crying out for; higher energy levels, an improved/balanced mood (solution to depression/anxiety), radiant skin, whiter teeth, sharper intellect (focus and concentration), and relief from their various diseases. Do you think improving digestion would become as trendy as energy drinks and anti-aging serum?

Remedying our digestion and reaping all the benefits we mentioned above is free, simple, and universally effective. All we have to do is take a trip back in time roughly 8,000 years ago…

Ayurveda is an ancient Indian system of living which directly translates to “The Science of Life”. This model of living dates back to 6,000 BCE, is still practiced in India today, and is enjoying a westward expansion in recent years as it is the sister science to yoga. At the center of Ayurveda is…you guessed it, digestion. Ayurveda understands digestion to be a process of transformation. For example, when you eat a banana it is transformed into you, a conscious sentient human being.  How in the world does that happen?! Agni. Ag-wah? “Agni” is the Sanskrit word for fire.

…And agni refers equally to the digestive fire, the fire of intelligence, and that which governs all transformative processes. It is the vehicle by which food becomes consciousness. In Ayurveda, agni is the source of awareness, nutrition, and intelligence. It drives all types of transformation, digests thoughts and emotions, and coordinates countless physiological processes—including the digestion, absorption, and assimilation of foods, sensations, and experiences into energy. (Learn More)

So, imagine this: Every time we put food into our stomach, it falls onto a fire. And the quality of that fire determines how we digest, transform, and assimilate that food. Wouldn’t your next question be, “How do I get my fire burnin’?!” You’re about to learn 3 extremely simple lifestyle changes that will keep your fire burning hot, steady, and strong.

  • Ingestion: When building a fire, there are a few things you just don’t do…
    Don’t: Put too many logs on the fire when the coals aren’t burning hot.

When we overeat, it’s too much for our fire to burn. Our fire is stamped out by the excessive amount of logs and as a result, our energy plummets.

Don’t: Put wet logs on the fire.

Drinking water during meals is like putting wet logs on a fire. Water should be drank first thing in the morning, after the last meal is digested at night, and sparingly on a “as thirsty” basis.

Don’t: Put on new woods until the old logs have turned to coals.

 If you want a hot fire, it’s really all about the coals, not the flame. To ensure your coals (your potential energy to put toward daily tasks) burn hot, don’t snack throughout the day. Wait until your previous meal has digested, then eat your next. This means 3 moderately sized meals throughout your day. Between meals, herbal tea can be taken instead of food as it doesn’t require digestion.

Don’t: Use low quality wood.

If the quality of your wood is chemically treated, your bonfire will become a warzone. Eat natural, unrefined, well-spiced, whole foods.

How we eat, and what we eat, are extremely important in developing a strong digestive system. Chaga Mushroom has been proven in multiple studies to protect and repair the GI tract therefore increasing digestion and assimilation of food.  For more information on Chaga Mushroom, and for access to Chaga Mushroom Products, visit www.thisislifeitself.com.

For Ayurvedic recipes, blog posts, and ayurvedic herbs, check out Banyan Botanicals website.

*Final Note on Ingestion: What we ingest in our minds also must be digested by a more subtle digestion process. If we become bogged down with too much information, or heavily emotional experiences, we must balance this time with a period of rest to allow for digestion. Also note that the quality of the information you are ingesting, becomes you, just like food does. If you feed yourself fear, worry, anxiety, and pain from outside sources, expect that to condition your mind and become you. In contrast, if you feed yourself news of love, acceptance, courage, freedom, playfulness, and well-being, expect that to condition your mind and become you.

  • Stress Relief:

This one is crucial because our world seems to be run on stress nowadays. In response, there is a growing emphasis on stress reduction and stress relief as a part of a healthy lifestyle. However, we must remember to make it a part of our lifestyle and engage in healthy, stress relieving activities daily. Take a look at what the Harvard Medical School has to say about the connection between stress and digestion:

…When a person becomes stressed enough to trigger the fight-or-flight response, for example, digestion slows or even stops so that the body can divert all its internal energy to facing a perceived threat. In response to less severe stress, such as public speaking, the digestive process may slow or be temporarily disrupted, causing abdominal pain and other symptoms of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Of course, it can work the other way as well: persistent gastrointestinal problems can heighten anxiety and stress.

We recommend the following activities for stress relief: Taking a walk without devices, reading a book, going on a hike in nature, breathing and/or meditation, painting/coloring/drawing, arts & crafts, gardening, playing an instrument, cooking, getting a massage, or taking a candlelit bath.

  • Movement:

If you were out on the dance floor and the D.J. put on your favorite song then said, “Alright, I’m gonna need to see everyone get their blood pumpin’!”, what would you do? I mean assuming you’re into dancing… you would pick up the pace, the rhythm, and ultimately you would move more. Moving gets the blood pumping!

It is vital to move the body every day. When we move the body, we increase blood flow to the digestive tract which helps move food through, alleviating heartburn, gas, constipation, cramps, bloating, etc. However, it’s important to remember that you should allow food to digest out of your stomach before beginning a moderate-high intensity workout program. In other words, don’t hit a hard workout right after you eat a big meal. Read more about digestion and exercise from Manhattan Gastroenterology here.

As we exercise, we kindle our agni, and we can literally begin to feel the heat build within us. It’s like an “All Systems Go!” switch engages and all the processes in our body begin to ramp up. Our heart starts pumping faster, our breath starts moving in and out faster, AND our intestines begin assimilating nutrients from food (metabolism) and excreting the waste more quickly (peristalsis).

Peristalsis: The involuntary constriction and relaxation of the muscles of the intestine or another canal, creating wave-like movements that push the contents of the canal forward.

Daily exercise is an essential part of tending to our fire and increasing the quality of our digestion. While you exercise, just remember: BREATHE! Breathing during exercise ensures we don’t accumulate stress, and allows us to fully reap all the benefits of movement.

Our favorite ways to exercise are: Yoga, Weight Training, Calisthenics, Running, Playing Sports with Friends, Dancing, and Hiking.

Our favorite was to gently move digestion after eating are: Gentle Walking, Gentle Yoga, or even just Intentional Breathing (Pranayama).

Final Words:

Remember that improving digestion has a laundry list of benefits: higher energy levels, an improved/balanced mood (solution to depression/anxiety), radiant skin, whiter teeth, sharper intellect (focus and concentration), and relief from their various diseases.

Take into account that improving your digestive health is a journey into lifestyle change. We encourage you to take a committed, slow, sustainable approach on the implementation of these new habits. One small step at a time.

An effortless place to start healing digestion, and realizing the benefits, is including herbs into your diet like Chaga Mushroom. Feel free to click the preceding link and browse through a few Chaga products. Cheers to the beginning of your well-being transformation.