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Ayurveda & Digestion

Updated: May 3

Digestive Process

According to Ayurveda, digestion (Agni) is defined as fire, the cornerstone of balanced health, and is understood physically, mentally, and emotionally. At its simplest levels, it is responsible for the digestion, assimilation, and elimination process of everything we ingest. It also controls all metabolic activities, transforming information and cellular communication, including mental clarity, intelligence, sensory perception, discrimination, and reasoning.


When our digestion of food is out of balance, we can experience gas, bloating, constipation, acid indigestion or reflux, hemorrhoids, heartburn, or mucousy stools. These create Ama (toxins), which, when it increases and overflows, moves through the tissues, bones, and organs and can result in long-term or chronic illnesses.


When these processes are balanced, they support immunity, metabolism, and homeostasis, creating a healthy appetite, proper digestion, removal of toxins, regulation of elimination, restful sleep, strong vitality, a calm and clear mind, and proper health.


According to Ayurveda, all bodily functions are directly understood by the body's three doshas (biological energies): Vata-air/ether, Pitta-fire/water, and Kapha-water/earth.  The three stages of food digestion are first the actions of the mouth and upper stomach associated with the Kapha dosha, which start with the initial watery breakdown of food.  The second stage is associated with the Pitta dosha, which facilitates heat and begins the transformation and assimilation process through the lower stomach, small intestine, and liver.  The final stage occurs in the colon, the home of the Vata dosha, where the air element dries and moves wastes toward elimination.


The other very interesting part is how the six tastes (sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent) found in everything we ingest play a vital role in these processes. These tastes are directly connected to the taste buds on the tongue, which connect to the organs of digestion, assimilation, and elimination.


The sweet taste is alkaline and digests carbohydrates in the mouth and upper stomach. The sour taste is acidic and digests proteins in the lower stomach. The salty taste digests fats with pancreatic secretions and is completed in the duodenum. The pungent taste creates the necessary intestinal enzymes and is in the small intestine. The bitter taste assists in the absorption of nutrients in the ilium, and the astringent taste helps with the absorption of liquids and is found in the colon.


The first step in holistic health is understanding your constitution (true nature) and determining your current state of health, which can be achieved by having an evaluation. Once understood, you can easily create daily practices, including a diet incorporating all six tastes into your meals and other practices using the five sense therapies, ensuring harmonious health and well-being physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

Contact me for a free introductory phone call to discuss how to start your journey with Ayurveda.

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