As an Ayurveda practitioner, I find it interesting to see just how many clients believe that their digestion is fine, even as they suffer from frequent gas and bloating.
In Ayurveda, the ancient medical system of healthy living from India, your state of digestion is considered the key indicator of good health—and regular, persistent gas and bloating are signs that your digestive system and overall health are in need of some support.
Fortunately, there are many all-natural, efficient home remedies you can borrow from the Ayurveda tradition to both prevent and mitigate uncomfortable gas.
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After years of eating disorders and accompanying digestive disturbances, I finally healed my own digestion and transformed my health by using the following practices. Here are the tips I now also recommend to my own students:
1. Eat only cooked foods.
In Ayurveda the digestive system is described as being like a fire. Like a physical fire, whenever you put cold water or food into it, what do you think happens? That's right: It extinguishes.
It's amazing what a difference I've found it makes to eat cooked versus raw foods. Doing so allows the stove to "predigest" your food before it reaches your mouth—which means your digestive fire does not have to work as hard to process and convert your food into nourishment for your body.
2. Add digestive spices to your food.
Ayurvedic spices can also be used to increase your digestive fire and help prevent gas when consumed regularly with your food. In particular, cumin seeds, ajwain (bishop's weed) seeds, fennel seeds, freshly grated ginger, and hing (asafetida) are potent digestive spices.
If you want to cook with them, heat up some ghee (clarified butter that has many medicinal benefits, including helping prevent gas). Then add ½ teaspoon of cumin, ajwain, fennel seeds, and a small pinch of hing. You can then grate fresh ginger into the pan. Stir for about 30 seconds and then add this combination to your vegetables, meat, or beans.
If you're not cooking, you can put cumin, ajwain seeds, fennel seeds, and a couple of pinches of hing into a blender to create a table spice that you can later add to your savory dishes.
Note: If you have any heat sensitivity, heartburn, or a tendency to have acid reflux, consult an Ayurvedic practitioner prior to consuming ginger and hing, which are considered heating spices.
3. Chew more slowly.
In Ayurveda, the way you eat matters just as much as what you eat. When you chew quickly, in a hurry, your digestion suffers and it can easily lead to uncomfortable gas and bloating. By taking your time and really chewing your food, you'll also enjoy your food more.
My students are often surprised by what a difference it makes to slow down and chew their food up to 30 times per bite. Most of the time, it's not easy to chew that many times, but the idea behind the number is to encourage really slowing down the tendency to inhale food, particularly when we're hungry or distracted by working while eating.
There are three bioforces (called doshas) that contribute to both health and disease in Ayurveda. One of them is called vata dosha, and its main function is movement. When you start moving around too soon after you eat, or work in front of your computer, this bioforce gets agitated.
Sitting and eating slowly, with your full attention on your food, and then remaining still for three to four minutes afterward makes a world of difference for your digestion.
4. Chew on fennel seeds after meals.
If you've ever been to an Indian restaurant, you'll notice that they often have a stash of fennel seeds mixed with rock candy waiting for you by the cash register on your way out. Fennel seeds are believed to boost your digestion and counteract post-mealtime gas.
When you consume ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds with rock candy after meals, it's an excellent all-natural source of acid relief. If you don't have acidity or heat-related issues, you can chew on ½ teaspoon of fennel and ajwain seeds for anti-gas benefits.
Wishing you a happy and healthy time eating—and digesting—your food.
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