Every day, there's a ton of talk about the latest workout, diet, or cleanse that's helping people look and feel their very best. Whether it's information on the carb-to-protein ratio that can help you tone up or the right time of day to exercise for weight loss, the sheer volume of competing opinions can get complicated, overwhelming, and frustrating.
This advice, though well-meaning, doesn't touch on a fundamental piece of the puzzle. When it comes to improving our health, digestion really is the name of the game.
If your digestion is out of balance, it doesn't matter what you're eating.
What's the deal with digestion?
Even if you're consuming a healthy, organic, vegetarian diet and drinking green juice all day long, you can still end up in poor health if your body can't fully digest and absorb the nutrients from your food and properly eliminate toxins as waste.
If you have poor digestion, the cells of your body won't receive the fuel they need to regenerate, repair, and properly function. When you aren't effectively eliminating toxins, your body will create more fat cells to store them or activate an inflammatory response to try to get rid of them.
All of this can lead to premature aging, serious digestive conditions, autoimmune diseases, low immune function, fatigue, slow metabolism, and weight gain.
Digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, and constipation are all too common today, and many people are unfortunately turning to medication to deal with them. Meds may offer short-term relief, but they don't alleviate the underlying root cause of the issues.
The good news is that the road to better digestion and a healthier body doesn't have to be a bumpy or expensive one.
How can I improve mine naturally?
One of the most effective, easy, and inexpensive ways to improve digestion is simply drinking hot water throughout the day.
Dr. J.R. Raju, one of the world’s foremost Ayurvedic physicians, brought this practice to the United States in the 1980s after becoming shocked by the amount of ama, or toxic accumulation, he felt in the pulses of the people he saw. He remembered the hot water routine—a practice based on the classical Ayurvedic text The Charaka Samhita.
After some traveling, Dr. Raju returned to the United States and was pleasantly surprised to see that his patients who had been following the practice had significantly lower levels of ama.
According to Ayurveda, everything in the universe is comprised of the qualities of the five elements: earth, air, fire, water, and space.
These five elements make up the three doshas: Vata (space and air), Pitta (fire and water), and Kapha (earth and water). Everyone possesses varying levels of these three doshas.
Vata governs the nervous system, circulation, movement, and the body's upward and downward flows. Kapha governs lubrication, immunity, structure, and strength. When it comes to digestion and metabolism, Pitta is the key player.
Pitta governs the metabolic processes primarily using the energy of fire. For this reason, heat is important in the breakdown of food, absorption of nutrients, and elimination of toxic buildup.
In the hot water routine, the action of the warm water on the tongue jump-starts your metabolism and stimulates the digestive process.
The process is simple. All you have to do is boil fresh water for five to ten minutes and then keep it in an insulated 1-quart thermos. Sip on it every half hour or so throughout the day until about 6 p.m. or 7 p.m. Make sure not to drink too much at mealtimes as this will interfere with the digestive process by diluting stomach acid.
For increased support with digestion, you can also add 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, and ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds directly into the thermos and let them steep throughout the day as you sip the water.