The festive season is here! and along with it an abundance of edible delights seem to be just about everywhere!
Over 99% of us are going to break the rules and indulge. Great! Enjoy it! (guilt-free and in moderation).
But accordingly, support your digestive ability to "digest the silly season" at ease with minimal repercussions.
It is hard not to overindulge and accumulate Ama, the toxic sticky waste-product of incomplete digestion.
Tempting sweets and mouth watering food platters that pull you in by the eyes and nose can lead you to over-eat and snack at irregular times, promoting the accumulation of Ama.
Ama according to Ayurveda is a sticky, thick, mucus-like substance that if not cleaned out, will clog bodily channels and vitiate the “weak part” (Kavyaguna) in your body.
Joints, lungs and sinuses are typical weak spots where ama accumulates, but the ama will vitiate different tissues and areas depending on the person. Some people may experience respiratory symptoms, constipation, gas, bloating, skin rashes or breakouts, congested lymphatic system, weight gain, headaches, ulcers or stress.
The accumulation of ama is the first of The Six Stages of Disease (Shat Kriya Kala) according to Ayurveda.
After that, it will eventually manifest into disease and more full-blown clinical features down the track.
This is the beauty of the prevention aspect of Ayurveda. It can detect disease way before it gets even slightly complicated.
A key solution for conquering "Christmas-time Ama" according to Ayurveda is to keep your digestive fire (Agni) burning and balanced.
We want our agni to digest any food and from it create a thin liquid nourishing substance called "Ahar Rasa."
Ahar Rasa means "the essence of the food."
This essential bi-product of digestion will nourish your body and provide the required nutrients and energy for you to thrive.
The following tips will help keep your agni strong and balanced...
Tips for Less Ama, more Nectar
1. Eat Seasonally
Digestion is stronger in winter and weaker in summer.
"The temperature of the body beaten by the cold wind goes deep inside, gathers like a lump in the stomach increasing the digestive fire; hence, [in winter] people have the ability to digest foods which are hard by nature."
~Astanga Samgraha of Vaghbata, Hemantartucarya (regimen of winter), ch. 4, (8-13).
Modern science is now proving ancient wisdom as studies show the amylase enzyme (which increases our digestive strength), increases in our body in winter and decreases in summer.
What more is that the parasympathetic nervous system, AKA the “Rest and Digest” nervous system, also increases in winter and decreases in the spring and summer.
Our digestive fire is hot, fiery and acidic. We don’t want that in summer, we want that in winter to keep us warm and insulated and to help us to break down the hard to digest, high protein, high fat and dense foods like grains, nuts and dairy that nature intelligently organises to be harvested for the winter time.
If your holiday season comes in winter (USA, Europe, India):
You are lucky. Even though you do have stronger digestion at this time of the year, still do everything in moderation and follow the tips below to remain balanced.
Choose loads of fresh local fruits as your party foods.
Fruits have been ripening on the vines all year long and assist in dissipating the heat out of your body. Fruits are easy to digest for your weaker summer agni.
Ironically barbecues and ice-cream by the beach are more appropriate for winter time. Stick to light foods.
2. Eat Your Main Meal & Schedule Food Celebrations at Midday
Your agni (digestive fire) is regulated by the sun.
When the sun is strongest, your digestion is the strongest and most robust.
Modern sincere is once again proving ancient wisdom by showing that not only is our digestion stronger, but the food you eat delivers more nutritional value at the middle of the day when the sun is up rather than at night time.
- Schedule social events at lunch rather than dinner.
- Start preparing your Christmas lunch earlier so that you can stick to a 12pm-2pm mealtime schedule.
- If you do have an evening party, make it earlier while the sun is still up or around 5pm.
- Dinner should be the lightest meal of all. A big meal will not only tax your digestive system but will disrupt your sleep as your body will be burdened with this unwanted task. Your body’s job at night is to detox the liver and regulate hormones, not digest a big dinner.
3. Avoid Snacking
Stick to three meals a day, no snacks.
This will allow your digestion to rest in between each meal
Furthermore, it will trigger fat metabolism as you will be using fat as your source of fuel. Fat is the stable, long-lasting, calming, detoxifying, non-emergency fuel.
If you are eating every 1-2-3 hours, the body will continue to burn the readily available fuel from these foods. This fuel source is sugar. Sugar burns quickly and often comes crashing down along with your energy levels, leaving your body craving another short-term “pick me up.”
Fat on the other hand as your primary fuel source is effective for stabilising mood, emotions, good sleep, increasing cognitive function, less cravings, losing weight, balancing acidity and maintaining good energy levels.
Re-establish fat metabolism by eliminating snacks.
4. Use Herbal Digestive Support
Over 99% of us are going to break the rules and indulge. Fine, enjoy it! (guilt-free). But accordingly support your agni with nature’s intelligence through the use of herbs and spices:
Detoxification agent and whole-body cleansing Rasayana. 3 dosha balancing.
Best free radical scavenger & anti-oxidant; immune modulator and blood purifier. Good for gastrointestinal disorders, allergies, tooth and oral problems, female problems, high cholesterol, chronic cough, eye disorders, addictions, and helps clear the skin and more. A Raju family formula. For those looking to eliminate ama and cleanse the body, this is one of the best solutions Ayurveda can offer.
Shodana Vati is my herb of choice for mostly everyone to take. We live in a time where toxins are prevalent. In the US, a whopping 4 billion pounds of toxins are being dumped into the environment each year—72 million of which are carcinogenic.(1) Even your organic kale probably have mercury and glyphosate on it.
Purchase Shodana Vati HERE
An inferior digestive support option to Shodana Vati. Take 1-3 grams of quality triphala before dinner.
Tridoshic Digestive Tea
Vital Veda's digestive tea contains 22 organic herbs blended into coarse powder.
Drop a large pinch of the powder in hot water after meals or when you experience digestive discomfort.
A gem to sip on after overindulging in a feast to help digest the ama.
Home-Made Digestive Tea:
An inferior version to Vital Vedas Tridoshic Digestive Tea to be used when the latter is not available.
- 1⁄2 teaspoon lightly crushed cumin seeds +
- 1/2 tsp lightly crushed ajwain seeds +
- 1/2 tsp lightly crushed fennel seeds +
- 1/2 tsp ginger powder or freshly grated ginger.
- Put the powdered herbs in 1.5 cups of water and boil down to 1 cup.
- Strain and add 1 pinch of black salt.
Sip hot/warm as a tea after each meal and if you experience digestive discomfort.
You may make larger quantities and keep in thermos for the day.
5. Sip Hot Water
This is a powerful technique to melt toxins and flush them out of the body.
Like you use hot water to wash the grease off dirty dishes, a similar thing happens in your intestines. Sipping plain hot water regularly (frequency, not quantity matters) dilates the channels in your body so things can move better. Don't underestimate this powerful tool.
Just in case you strayed from the Ayurvedic path and collected Ama along the way...
Fasting is a quick and effective fix.
When dealing with the accumulation of ama, Ayurveda says:
If you eat a heavy meal that did not digest properly, skip the next meal.
- If you had a ridiculous dinner (ice cream, cake, plenty of rich food), skip breakfast or just have hot milk.
- If you put out your agni by overindulging in a heavy lunch, skip dinner that night or just have some fruit if you really need to eat.
Ayurveda also recommends fasting one day per week. Fasting does not mean no food. You can have liquids such as hot milk, lassi, fruit juices, and even fruits if your current body type is uncomfortable too fast. Also at night if you feel you may take a light dinner.
A gentle fast allows the agni to recover its strength and burn away accumulated ama, leaving you feeling light and energetic.
I soon will be releasing an online course on Ayurvedic nutrition which has a whole module on fasting according to Ayurveda. Sign up to the VV Newsletter to be in the loop.
7. Avoid Agni-Destroying Foods and Drinks
Ayurveda also states that some foods are especially hard to digest and easily produce ama.
Heavy foods produce "tamas" or dullness in the mind and body.
Fresh foods are easier to digest and contain more Prana (life force).
Items that diminish agni and contributes to the accumulation of ama:
- Leftovers - will oxidise and are very tamasic.
- Deep fried foods are hard to digest.
- Raw foods are hard to digest. Why make your internal fire do the cooking? Let the external fire do the cooking to make the food more compatible with your body.
- Cold foods and drinks will put out your agni (digestive fire).
- Ice-cream - cold, sweet, heavy and dull are the same qualities of ama. "Like increases like."
- A lot of water with meals dilutes the digestive enzymes. Iced drinks with meals is like throwing cold water onto a fire. Lassi is the best to have with a meal to support digestion.
8. Panchakarma Detox Therapy / Vital Short Home Cleanse
Despite all your good efforts to keep balanced, our physiology still needs regular detoxification and rejuvenation.
Ayurveda has a very effective tool to cleanse the body from ama and other toxins: Panchakarma ("PK"). Panchakarma is a methodical combination of taking herbs, treatments and adjusting diet and lifestyle to cleanse and renew the body. These treatments are hands-on, rejuvenating techniques that purge the physiological stress and toxins out of the body that covers the underlying natural state of perfect health residing in everyone.
This detox and rejuvenation program is best to be immersed in-residence at an authentic, safely practised ayurvedic clinic. I highly recommend Dr. Raju's Institute of Ayurveda.
If you can't run away to India, the Vital Veda clinic in Sydney offers PK for 5, 7, 15, 23 or more days where your program will be tailored to tie in with your home and work life.
If you want to DIY at home, check out my free Vital Short Home Cleanse.
As you can see, Ayurveda offers a ton of possibilities to conquer ama while still being to enjoy yourself.
I wish you a happy holiday season filled with unity and relish.