Ayurvedic Tips + Recipes for Healthy Digestion (Agni)
With the holidays swiftly approaching, we all may indulge in foods that we are not accustomed to eating on a regular basis. Many of the classic holiday dishes contain dairy, sugar and other ingredients that can be challenging to digest. Of course, we can always alter recipes to omit such ingredients; however, if you find yourself at your family’s or friend’s house this holiday season, it may be near impossible to avoid them. Also, this time of year may be the only time that you do eat these dishes and you may want to surrender to the flow and enjoy a holiday classic, such as your mom’s apple pie. In order to avoid digestive upset in the form of indigestion, gas, bloating or sluggishness after your slice of pie or favorite casserole, it is essential that your Agni, or digestive fire, is strong and ready to get to work to metabolize your feast. Thankfully, Ayurveda, India’s 5,000 year old medical system, has some simple tips and recipes to ensure a strong and balanced Agni to see you through the festive holiday season and its array of rich dishes.
Image courtesy of PAAVANI Ayurveda
One of our favorite Ayurvedic daily practices is scraping the tongue with a copper tongue scraper first thing in the morning. It is best to tongue scrape first thing in the AM because the body goes through a detoxification process in the evening while we sleep and, according to Ayurveda, we can assist with this cleansing process when we awake. Tongue scraping helps to draw the Ama, or toxins, off of the tongue, eliminate harmful bacteria in the mouth and also it begins to stimulate the taste buds and Agni. Hence, this simple practice starts to prepare the body for digestion before even a morsel of food enters the mouth and this is a headstart we all need during the holidays! To learn more about tongue scraping, click here.
Drink Warm Lemon Water
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After you have scraped the tongue, you are now ready to drink some warm lemon water. This simple practice continues detoxifying the body due to its ability to naturally regulate the bowels, enhance digestion, hydrate and alkalinize the digestive tract as well as provide a dose of Vitamin C. Ayurvedic medicine explains that the sour taste of a lemon awakens the Agni and this is imperative if we want to digest foods readily and leave no Ama, or toxic residue behind. To prepare your warm lemon water, all you need to do is boil some fresh water and drink ½ cup of the water with ¼ slice of lemon. Enjoy this beverage before your morning coffee, tea and/or breakfast.
Say Farewell to Ice Water & Beverages
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If you have not already, begin to wean yourself away from drinks with ice. This is because your Agni is literally your digestive fire; thus, your Agni needs to stay warm, like a steady flame, in order to metabolize, assimilate and absorb vital nutrients from food. If you regularly drink ice water or other icy beverages, it can tax your Agni and can create low Agni.
When low Agni occurs, Ama, or toxic residue, is left behind in the digestive tract and eventually these toxins can lead to a weakened immune system and dis-ease. In conclusion, instead of ice in your drinks, enjoy all beverages either warm or at room temperature.
Agni Enhancer Ginger Bites
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In order to jumpstart Agni and prepare our digestive tracts for the sometimes heavy holiday dishes, we need to invite a little more metabolizing fire into our bellies. Try this simple recipe to enhance your Agni, about 30 minutes before your holiday meal:
- 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp. fresh lime juice
- pinch of Himalayan salt
- pinch of black pepper
- pinch of coriander powder
Combine all ingredients together, eat and experience balanced digestion!
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CCF Tea is simply Coriander, Cumin and Fennel Tea. This is a classic Ayurvedic digestive tea that is balancing to all doshas (vata, pitta and kapha). You can enjoy this tea throughout the day, 30 minutes before your meal or with your meal to assist in the absorption and assimilation of nutrients.
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
Place all ingredients in a deep saucepan. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a strong boil. Once it has come to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer. While the water is coming to a boil, with a slotted spoon, observe where the water line is on the spoon. Cook until the water line has been reduced by half, rendering 2 cups of tea. Once the water has reduced by half, turn off the heat and allow the tea to rest for 5-10 minutes before straining. Sip and enjoy the nourishment!
Although our holiday gatherings are going to look a little different this year due to COVID-19, we hope you are still able to enjoy family favorite recipes with loved ones, be it in person in small safe gatherings or from afar with the help of technology. Wishing you a joyful and safe holiday season where your Agni is strong and ready to tackle any feast!
Interested in learning more about Ayurveda? Please visit our 100 Hour Online Ayurveda & Yoga Course.
Written by Trudy Collings
SPY Facilitator & co-owner of PAAVANI Ayurveda.