In the last few years, scientists have begun to realize what Ayurvedic sages have known for more than five thousand years: gut health is the key to good health. Research has shown that the gut microbiome contains trillions of microorganisms, including more than 1000 different species of bacteria. This bustling community of bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract has the power to impact everything from our digestion to our mood to our immunity. The place that is responsible for 80 percent of our immunity must be supported and nurtured.
"All diseases begin in the gut," a term coined by Hippocrates, the father of modern science thousands of years ago, is one of the basic foundational principles in Ayurveda. While modern medicine has recently started seeing the significance of gut health in the body's overall well-being, the ancient science of Ayurveda has based its therapeutic principles on this concept for thousands of years.
Ayurvedic texts have given great importance to the brain-gut connection. According to this ancient Indian science, human beings are emotional creatures, and emotions are intertwined with the internal workings of the body. The brain and gut exchange vital information through a neural network. When there are toxins in the gut, it can lead to anxiety, anger, or depression. On the other hand, negative thought patterns can result in IBS, constipation, or other intestinal diseases. To unlock the secrets of longevity, Ayurveda suggests that the gut and brain function as one unit.
Digestion plays a crucial role in the healing process and maintains overall homeostasis. When our agni, or digestive fire, burns brightly and is in balance, we can digest our food properly and assimilate our experiences and memories—absorbing what our body needs and burning off what we don't. When our digestion is weak, the body struggles to assimilate nutrients and eliminate ama (undigested food). If left unchecked, this ama is responsible for bloating, indigestion, allergies, skin eruptions, heaviness, and eventually a weakened immune system and other health problems, including mental and emotional imbalances.
RE-ESTABLISHING THE CONNECTION
Ayurvedic sages like to say that if you could digest it properly, even poison could be good for you, while with poor digestion, a person can die from drinking nectar. Such is the importance of our GI tract. Ayurveda emphasizes the following points to foster a connection with the gut, which plays a pivotal role in overall health:
- Agni or Digestive Fire: It is nothing less than the divine power that governs our physiology. Strong and balanced agni is important for optimal digestion and absorption of nutrients. This helps in preventing the formation of toxins and supports a healthy gut.
- Diet and Lifestyle: Ayurveda recommends consuming fresh and whole foods that are appropriate for your dosha constitution. Regular eating habits, consuming warm and cooked meals, and avoiding incompatible food combinations contribute to gut health.
- Probiotics: Ayurveda recognizes the importance of maintaining a balanced microbial ecosystem in the gut. Ayurvedic formulations like Takram or buttermilk can support healthy gut flora.
- Herbal Support: Herbs like ginger, cumin, fennel, and coriander are used in Ayurveda to enhance digestion, reduce gas and bloating, and soothe gastrointestinal discomfort.
- Honor Your Hunger: The rule of natural urges in Ayurveda states that you should eat only when hungry. Appetite is a key sign of healthy digestion. Consuming meals only when hungry goes a long way in aiding gut health.
- Move Your Body: The microbiome is continuously active and reacting not only to the food we eat but also to how we move our bodies throughout the day. Exercise has a great impact on our ecosystem. Regular exercise increases the diversity of microbial species in the gut and encourages bacteria to flourish.
"You are not what you eat, but what you digest" is the new mantra. Let us unlock the power of our digestive system for overall health and holistic well-being.