I eat healthy so why do I have bad digestion ? According to Ayurveda : A person with a healthy agni – digestive fire / enzymes, is gifted with health and longevity. A “healthy” diet is not the only condition to healhty digestion.We must consider the strength of our agni, the quantity of foods we eat, the timing, the nature of the food according to our consitution, our lifestyle and our state of mind.
– I EAT HEALTHY, SO WHY DO I HAVE BAD DIGESTION ?
The first thing to understand according to Ayurveda is the concept of Agni. Here is an overview and you can read more details in this blog post dedicated to agni.
– WHAT IS AGNI ?
Agni means fire. Fire is essential for all life form to exist. Agni is a transformative energy in the body. The agni principle, represents the enzymes or digestive juices present in the stomach and gastro-intestinal tract, liver and bodily tissues.
– WHAT IT DOES
The main task of agnis (enzymes) is to help the digestion, assimilation and absorption of nutrients. This process takes place continuously in the body.
– 3 TYPES OF AGNI
- The main Agni is located in our stomach. It is the main fire pit, if you like, that governs the state of health of all the other agnis in the body. This agni is called Jathara Agni – which litterly means fire in the stomach. It is responsible for the primary digestion of food, which can then be converted into a substance that can be absorbed, assimilated and used by the various bodily funcitons. If Jathara Agni is imbalanced, food may not be digestd properly and will become ama (= undigested foods = toxins), which cannot be used by the body as nutrition or energy.
- Bhuta Agnis are fires relating to the five elements (=panchamahabhutas). They are located in the liver. Each element has its own fire. Each Bhutagni, is responsible for digestion and assimilation of its own element taken from digested foods, into the tissues which are related to this element. Earth agni, will be responsible for taking the earth (solid) element of foods, into the tissues which are predominentaly made of earth (muscles and bones).
- Finally the Dhatus Agnis, are the fire in the tissues. They are 7 tissues and 7 Dhatu Agnis (plasma, blood, fat, muscle, bone, bone marrow, reproductive). Each dhatu agni is reponseible for the building of its own tissue, to nourish the next tissue level, produce energy and waste products from the tissue.
– 3 STATES OF IMBALANCE OF AGNI
The state of agni(s) is often related to with individual constitution or dosha.
- Vata predominent consitutions tend to have irregular (vishama) agni
- Pitta predominent consitutions tend to have increased (tikshna) agni
- Kapha predominent consitutions tend to have decreased (manda) agni
If agni is imbalanced then food doesn’t get digested properly resulting in creation of toxins (ama). Toxic unprocessed food then travels through the channels to the weakest parts of the body, and gets deposited there. This is when a dis-ease is created.
– SO WHAT CAUSES IMBALANCE OF AGNI ?
In the Madhava Nidana, traditional Ayurveda Textbook, the following factors are responsible for indigestion, even if foods eated are wholeseome, and consumed in proper quantity :
- Drinking excessive amounts of water
- Wrong food timing
- Suppression of natural urges
- Sleeping during the day
- Keeping awake at night
Other factors that may cause imbalance of agni according to the same Ayurveda texbook :
Strength of agni becomes imbalances if a person is suffering from :
- unconfortable resting place
- keeping awake at night.
So we may be eating the “healthiest for in the world”, we still may be suffering from indigestion.
VERY IMPORTANT NOTE
Also what is not spoked about in the 5000 year old, is what is qualitfied as healthy foods. Today there is so much litterature on what is good and bad. A lot of the information is generalised – for instance low carb diet, paleo diet, raw foods diet, drinking 2L of water, chia seeds and other superfoods….- These are not relevant to everyone all the time, but may be misunderstood and cause imbalance of their own.
One must be very careful when taking outside information from non professional sources.
Healthy food is food that is suitable to your consitution, your current state of balance, the season, taken in the right time, the right quantity, the right mindset and according to stength of agni.
“What food is right for me, is not the food that is right for you”
Let’s always consider all of these factors when experiencing “bad digestion”. Let’s entertain the though that perhaps our digestion is not bad, the machine is not broken – on the contrary, but we may be giving it the wrong food, at the wrong time, in the wrong evironement, in the wrong quantity etc.
Hoping that this is useful food for thought x
Ayurveda Practitioner (Nutrition & Lifestyle) DipANC(Ayur) |DipPrac(Ayur)
Massage Therapies – DipAMT(Ayur) | Traditional Thai Massage
Yoga Instructor (Hatha | Yin | Trauma Informed)
The Ayurveda Centre – Athens