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Ayurvedic Tips and Recipes for Bloating
Posted 6 months ago by Katie
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is an ancient system of medicine which was developed in India 5000 years ago; it is based on the belief that health and wellness depends on a delicate balance between the mind, body, spirit, and social wellbeing. The Sanskrit word Ayurveda translates as ‘the knowledge of life’ and remains the dominant health care system of India today. This view of life takes into consideration the connection between the physical body and the non-physical consciousness of the mind, thoughts and emotions, and addresses any disconnections between these areas of life.
Ayurveda is a preventative system of healing that consists of a number of disciplines including aromatherapy, diet, herbal medicine, acupuncture, yoga, massage, meditation and the balancing of energies, each of which may have a positive effect on health, and it is thought that through regular use of these practices, one can remain in balance and prevent symptoms from occurring in the first place. One of the founding principles of Ayurveda is that good health depends on the quality of our digestion, the ability to digest both food and environmental inputs, such as emotions and experiential impressions taken in through the senses. A good strong digestive fire known as ‘Agni’ is needed to support optimal digestion, and when this becomes weakened through things such as stress, and mindless eating, our digestion can become compromised and symptoms such as bloating and other uncomfortable GI symptoms can manifest.
What are the Three Ayurveda body types?
There are three doshas, or body types, known as vata, pitta, and kapha. These are functional intelligences (energies) within the body which relate to the 5 elements: earth, air, water, fire, and space. Ayurveda suggests that these doshic energies are present in everybody to varying degrees and perform different physiological functions within the body. When these doshas become imbalanced by unsupportive lifestyle choices and emotional trauma, digestion can become compromised.
Our inborn doshic constitution is a blend of our parents doshic constitutions at the time of conception, and is refered to as 'Prakruti', which means "nature". Living life in accordance with our innate constitution by maintaining balance in our doshas, will support optimum health, digestion, and vitality. Vata relates to air and wind and governs all movements of digestion such as peristalsis and the excretion of waste. When imbalanced, excessive vata can cause gas and bloating. Pitta represents fire and the energy of transformation. It governs the digestion of foods, thoughts, experiences, and emotions, and so it is important to maintain a strong digestive fire. Kapha is associated with the water and earth elements which support lubrication, hydration, structure, and solidity within the body.
Vata Energy (air) Types:
Vata types tend to be slim, creative, quick to forget, lively, and fun. They have high energy in short bursts, racing thoughts, and an irregular daily routine. Physically, they have cold hands/feet, changeable moods, dry skin, and tend to be fearful, worried and anxious when stressed. These fast walking, impulsive, types have an aversion to cold, wind, damp. They experience variability in appetite, digestion and elimination, and have less physical strength and stamina than other types. With their quick minds they grasp situations rapidly, make instant decisions, and are quick to intitiate action.
Pitta Energy (fire) Types:
Pitta types have a medium physique, a strong, sharp mind, good concentration, focused, and are assertive, self-confident, entrepreneurial, aggressive, demanding, pushy when out of balance, and competitive. They enjoy challenges, are passionate and romantic, have a strong digestion and strong appetite, get irritated if they have to miss or wait for a meal, and are irritated and angry when stressed. Their skin is typically fair or reddish with freckles and sunburns easily; they're uncomfortable in sun or hot weather as heat makes them very tired and they have a tendency to perspire. They're usually good public speakers and have leadership ability, but are prone to temper tantrums, impatience, and anger. Typical physical problems include rashes or inflammations of the skin, acne, ulcers, heartburn, acid stomach, insomnia.
Kapha Energy (water) Types:
Kaphas are typically easygoing, relaxed, slow-paced, affectionate, loving, forgiving, and compassionate. They have a non-judgmental nature and are stable, reliable, and faithful, but can can be possessive. These soft voiced souls are slower to learn but have an outstanding long-term memory. Physically they tend to be strong, with a heavier build, a high level of steady energy, slow speech, and a deliberate thought process. They may have a tendency towards being overweight, and suffer from a sluggish digestion. Though calm and very self-sufficient, with a gentle, undemanding approach to life, they can be prone to depression, and strive to maintain harmony and peace in their surroundings. But generally they are not easily upset and can be a point of stability for others, generally enjoying excellent health and good immune function.
The Ayurvedic diet consists of foods which work with the body’s innate intelligence in order to promote natural self-healing. The diet is personalised to suit your individual body type (dosha) and changes according to the seasons and life stages. The Ayurvedic understanding of nutrition places emphasis on the quality of your digestion, your mind, and the balancing of the doshas as opposed to the western diet which focuses on the physical attributes of food; the balance of macronutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
In addition to a specific diet which must be adhered to, there are three aspects of gastrointestinal vitality within Ayurveda. These are the maintenance of a strong digestive fire; good digestion/assimilation of nutrients, and the proper elimination of waste. When our digestion becomes impaired, we may experience an imbalance in vata which can lead to bloating, abdominal pain and flatulence. An imbalance in kapha can make us sluggish and lethargic and more prone to suffering from constipation. An imbalance in pitta where the digestive fire sits in the stomach can lead to inflammatory conditions such as gastritis and stomach ulcers. Vata balancing foods include sweet, sour, and salty tastes, and we would want to include more of these foods when symptoms of vata indigestion present. Try to include more cooked foods, sweet fruits, and good fats and oils such as ghee and extra virgin oilive oil. People naturally gravitate towards foods which balance the excessive influence of their promary dosha. For example people with vata constitiutions enjoy foods which are warm, nourishing and moist such as ghee, butter, oil, rice, and bananas, as these foods counterbalance vata's drying effect. Contrast this with kapha types who prefer dry, light foods and pitta individuals who prefer more cooling foods to reduce the heat in their bodies.
Recipes for Bloating
There are many digestive supporting spices that we can include in our meals that will provide both flavour and medicinal effects, such as enhancing digestion and improving our body's natural secretion of digestive enzymes. Fennel, cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, cardamon, fenugreek, cinnamon, and clove are just some of the spices that can help to counteract your food's gas-forming tendencies. Chewing 1/2 tsp fennel seeds after a meal imparts anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties that relax contracted intestinal muscles and allow trapped gas to dissipate. Turmeric stimulates digestion and prevents the fermentation of food waste in the colon which can lead to bloating and gas as a result of opportunistic pathogenic bacteria feeding on this badly digested food. To prevent the growth of bad bacteria you can regulate your gut microbiome with a good quality well researched probiotic, which will support a healthy balance of friendly bacteria.
This drink contains the anti-inflammatory spice turmeric which supports indigestion, bloating, and flatulence.
2 cups of plant-based milk of choice such as almond, pecan, coconut. You could even use bone broth in place of milk for the ultimate gut fix.
1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp cinnamon powder
Pinch of ground black pepper
Tiny piece of fresh, peeled ginger root or ¼ tsp ginger powder
1 tsp coconut oil or ghee
1 tsp raw honey or maple syrup or to taste (optional)
Whisk ingredients to gather in a small saucepan and heat for 3-5 mins until just before it simmers. Serve immediately and drink in the morning in the afternoon when you need a pick me up or before bed to nourish your microbiome as you sleep.
Ginger Tea Recipe:
Ginger tea is refreshing and easy to make. It contains the phenolic compounds gingerol and shogaol, amongst other volatile oils that stimulate bile and gastric enzymes to aid in the digestion of food. It also speeds up the movement of food from the stomach into the small intestine which prevents bloating. Just add one teaspoon of grated or sliced fresh ginger root to a cup of hot water. You can prepare a larger batch and keep it with you in a thermos bottle to sip throughout the day.
Pumpkin and Kale Dahl:
This meal contains lots of digestive supporting spices and herbs to support digestion and alleviate bloating.
1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee.
1 small (150g) red onion, peeled and thinly sliced.
2 cm ginger, grated.
1 clove garlic, grated.
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper.
1 teaspoon ground cumin.
1 teaspoon ground turmeric.
1 teaspoon garam masala.
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander.
1 cup dry brown or red lentils.
2 cups organic chicken bone broth or vegetable stock.
2 medium tomatoes, chopped.
1 cup kale leaves, de-stemmed and finely chopped.
1 1/2 cup roasted cinnamon pumpkin. (roast for 30 mins in ghee and 1 tsp cinnamon.)
1/2 cup coriander or parsley leaves.
Serve with brown rice or chickpea roti, and fresh herbs such as parsley and coriander.
How do we strengthen our digestive fire?
Proper digestion, with a strong agni, plays a central role in our physical and emotional wellbeing. Not only are we what we eat, but ‘we are what we digest and assimilate’. Maintaining a strong digestive fire is important if we want to digest and metabolise our foods properly, and maintain energy and vitality. Imbalances in Agni can correlate with the different dosha types and produce different symptoms. An agni vata imbalance will lead to symptoms such as bloating, gas, and gurgling in the intestines. An imbalance in pitta agni would lead to a strong appetite, heartburn and acid indigestion. A kapha agni imbalance would present with slow metabolism, constipation, and excess weight gain. Here are some ways in which we can maintain our digestive fire:
Be mindful of the way in which you eat:
Eat sitting down in a settled environment, without distractions such as phones and laptops.
Sip on ginger tea throughout the day, and with meals:
Ginger can relax the smooth muscle of the intestines, thereby relieving symptoms of gas and cramping.
Meditate on a regular basis before meals to settle the mind and release any negative emotions:
Meditation can help to restore the body’s homeostasis, including the processes controlling digestion. To get started with meditation download an app such as Headspace or insight timer.
Drink a cup of hot water first thing in the morning:
When we wake up in the morning, our digestive fire is naturally low. Hot water gives this agni a jumpstart, both preparing it for food and stimulating the bowels.
Cook your vegetables:
Raw foods such as salads and kale smoothies do not suit everyone and for people with weak digestion it may actually increase discomfort for you because raw foods take longer to digest. Try not to consume raw salads in the evening and if you are dealing with gas and bloating, try steaming or sautéing your vegetables. You can also add lots of digestive supporting spices.
Do not overeat:
When we eat more food than our stomach can accommodate, we compromise our bodies ability to break the food down which leads to more bloating, flatulence, and discomfort. Ayurveda recommends that we eat until we are 3/4 full to allow space for our body to easily digest our meal.
Consume warm nourishing Foods:
Avoid ice-cold drinks and foods which weaken our digestive fire and dilute our digestive juices.
Big Lunch, Small Dinner:
Eat your largest meal at lunchtime when our digestive fire is strongest. Dinner should be lighter and eaten before 8:00 p.m.
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