As Hippocrates, said: “All disease begins in the gut”
And Ayurveda agrees with that statement!
In fact, according to the Indian, ancient holistic system, our health is dependent upon our digestion and elimination.
This post is about that: how to improve your digestion and heal your gut with natural and non-invasive tools.
The Brain and Gut Connection
Have you ever gone with a gut feeling?
What about feeling butterflies in your stomach when you are with that person you like a lot?
Those feelings are signals from your second brain, the gut.
They are deep, self-evident, easily expressed, and often unexplainable. Also, they suggest a deep connection between your brain and gut.
Our gut is located in our digestive system and has millions of nerve cells lining the gastrointestinal tract from the esophagus to the rectum. A scientific way to call this supplemental brain is Enteric Nervous System (ENS).
The ENS contains 500 million neurons, which are connected to your brain through nerves in your nervous system.
In addition, both the brain and the gut produce neurotransmitters or chemicals that control feelings and emotions.
What a Sick Gut Tells You without Speaking
Most of us have experienced some damage to our gut.
And that particularly happens when we make bad choices. Dead foods, birth control pills, and antibiotics can negatively influence our digestion. Stress is another big player in unbalancing the healthy number of enzymes and bacteria.
The gut is also vulnerable to smoking, drugs, alcohol, and even pesticides.
Not to mention the use of microwaves — am I the only one not using it ever? — electronics, and pollution.
Yes, I know. Some of these are inherent elements of modern life. (Sigh)
The problem gets worse when not only the useful, friendly bacteria is killed; but when the bad bacteria and yeast grow due to our wrong lifestyle.
The gut is capable of triggering big emotional reactions and physical symptoms when it is not treated well.
Some signs that might indicate you can do much better are:
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Chronic indigestion
- Food allergies
- Stomach upset
- Poor immune response
- Skin problems
- Chronic fatigue
- Cloudy thinking
The microbiome is basically the community of bacteria living in the gut.
It is very complex, as it has 200 times the number of genes found in the human genome!
Some of these microbes are helpful for the body.
Others are pathogenic. They promote disease.
Interestingly, all of them get affected by the environment we live in, but also by nature or their genes.
The bacteria in the microbiome is essential for human development, immunity, and nutrition. It helps digest our food, regulate our immune system, and protect us against other bacteria that cause disease. It also produces vitamins (B,B12,K), thiamine, and riboflavin.
Several diseases like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia involve a dysfunction in the microbiome. In fact, obese individuals or those with autoimmune disorders have a lower diversity of bacteria and a poor combination of microbes in the gut.
The Link with Elimination
A powerful neurotransmitter is serotonin.
Serotonin contributes to feelings of love and happiness, but it also controls the body clock.
That’s important because our body has a natural rhythm that can be thrown off when we live a wrong lifestyle or eat foods that aggravate our body type.
This rhythm focuses on repairing, cleansing, and rejuvenating your body at night. It releases the toxins accumulated during the day and helps you eliminate them once you wake up.
When proper daily elimination does not happen, and you are unable to get rid of all impurities, all those toxins that were cleansed from the tissues during the night will get reabsorbed into the body.
The unreleased waste or ama affects your body (lethargy, fatigue, skin issues, poor immunity), mind (mental fog, loss of mental clarity) and emotions (sadness, depression, resentments).
Ayurvedic Strategies to Heal the Gut
So, the question is how to heal your gut, using Ayurvedic, natural, nonintrusive tools?
I outline all the strategies in this video.
What we need to overcome most health issues is a happy belly.
These are some tips that can help you awaken your gut intelligence:
Know your dosha
First things first.
Discover your body type or dosha first, and then learn to eat the foods that pacify it and the lifestyle that best serves you.
Eat foods that go well with your body type
Healing your gut with Ayurveda is one of the most important decisions you can make to increase your health.
It all starts with food!
But, it might be incredibly difficult to just give that first step.
Practice Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent Fasting (IF), if you are not too Vata aggravated, can help heal your gut.
Fasting gives your gut a much-needed break to restore its integrity.
Especially for those with leaky gut or intestinal permeability, where the gut lining allows toxins to enter the bloodstream, IF can reduce oxidative stress and chronic inflammation in the body.
In addition, it can boost microbiome diversity, which is necessary for gut health and reduced inflammation.
A great way to reset your metabolism and cleanse your gut, without being overly depleting, is to do a mono-diet fasting.
Kitchari is a nourishing and fantastic simple meal that has the qualities of being sweet and cooling with a sweet after-taste.
It is excellent for the detoxification and rejuvenation of cells.
This is the tridoshic — good for all doshas — Kitchari recipe for healing your gut with Ayurveda.
Probiotics are a phenomenal way to help helpful bacteria thrive in your gut.
They are live organisms that can assist with the elimination of toxins, our ability to fight off infection and illness, regulating our metabolism, and supporting nutrient synthesis and absorption.
Probiotics can be found in greens, tempeh, miso, lassi, and yogurt.
Find the vegan lassi recipe here.
Be mindful of your body type when deciding to consume probiotics, as Pitta dosha can get aggravated by the sour taste and Kapha dosha by heavy, cold foods like yogurt.
Other helpful recommendations you can start practicing today:
- Cultivate friendly bacteria by adding the sour taste to your meals, eating sauerkraut, or drinking lassi.
- Eat mostly cereals and vegetables! A great dinner idea is sautéed vegetables, cooked with lots of love and the right spices, on top of some quinoa. Add olive oil and you’ll feel great!
- Increase your consumption of spices: turmeric, ginger (dried and fresh), cumin, fennel, coriander, cinnamon, and cardamom are my all-time favorites.
- If you are feeling heavy in the morning, then try my cooked apples’ recipe. It’s super gentle on your digestive system.
- Be mindful when eating. Stay away from your phone, TV, and polemic conversations.
- Walk after dinner. Not only will it help to digest your food better, but it can help regulate your hormones by aligning your biological clock.
- Take triphala before going to bed to guarantee daily elimination in the morning.
- Drink ginger or fennel tea throughout the day.
- Avoid processed sugars.
I hope this helps,
P.S. I’d like to hear from you. Let me know if you have any question about these strategies.