Imagine you are in a forest cooking food!

Let’s consider a scenario, where you are in a forest out camping and cooking your food on fire! You have put your food items in a pot that is sitting on a pile of twigs or coal that you have collected. You are trying to cook your food by lighting up fire on this pile of twigs. So, what do you need for the food to be properly cooked?

A balanced fire right? If the fire is too much, the food will get burnt. If it is too slow, then food won’t cook. And if it is irregular, let’s say sometimes good and sometimes bad, then also the food won’t get cooked properly. It may be left raw at some places or too cooked in other areas.

Our Digestive Fire needs to be nurtured and taken care of!

Our digestive fire can literally be compared to this small cooking fire in the forest, which you needed to cook your meal.

digestive fire-health plan-min

It needs to be properly nurtured by the wind (“prana” in our body) and coal (the food we take in). If you put too much wind or pour too much coal on the top, then the fire becomes irregular – it may either go out of control or completely blow off!

Similarly, if your prana is out of balance or your food intake (also the kind of foods) are irregular, then it makes your digestive fire irregular! Sometimes, it becomes too much, sometimes totally dampens off, and sometimes it just doesn’t seem to come in our control!

To have a good kind of fire that will help you to assimilate the food that you are eating, you need good “Prana” circulation and of course good quality of “food intake” in the right quantity, and at the right time.

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Role of Brain in controlling the Digestive Fire and Food Cravings

You may have heard the saying “digestion begins in the mouth,” but it actually starts in the brain! And sometimes, despite being super full, you still feel having some room for that delicious food, which you just saw or sensed the aroma of! This is also how your brain manipulates your hunger and cravings.

Our metabolism and digestive system works in a series of steps where brain begins to prepare the body for the meal that we are about to eat. As we sense food through our eyes, nose, or even hear about certain food items, our body responds with certain actions:

  • Saliva production increases.
  • Stomach begins to produce enzymes and acid.
  • Liver and gall bladder get ready to release bile.

In addition, your Circadian rhythms control the flow and level of different hormones, which further define your appetite and cravings. Hence, if you usually follow a routine to your meals, you will always get hungry at the same time – and this is actually a very good indication that your body and mind are in sync!

Your Digestive Fire controls Metabolism, Health, Strength, and Beauty

Your digestive fire is the force that converts the fuel – or the food you take in to your body parts. It builds the blood cells, muscles, lymph, bones, egg, and sperms from whatever you feed in.

Digestive fire is termed as Agni in Ayurveda. It guides the assimilation of nutrients from food and eventually nourishment and growth of the body tissues.

According to Ayurvedic principles, our digestive fire is the key to our health. Digestive fire regulates digestion and metabolism at different levels as given below.

  1. Our digestion at the gross level – This is the overall functioning of our digestive system organs. usually, any malfunction here can be seen in the form of digestive issues such as constipation, bloating, and diarrhea etc.
  2. Metabolism at Tissue level – This directs the quality and quantity of your body tissues. Any malfunction here can manifest as say nutritional deficiencies, weak bones, hair fall, poor skin tone, lack of muscular strength, excess body fat, and infertility.
  3. Metabolism and growth at cellular level – This directs action of various hormones such as insulin, glucagon, growth hormone, cortisol, and multiple others at cellular level. This defines the growth and quality of the body cells and your hormone balance. These cells further make up body tissues, which further work together to make different body systems and body organs.

Disturbed Digestive Fire is the root cause to Health Problems and Hormone Imbalance

Healthy digestive fire leads to good quality and quantity of the body tissues such as plasma, blood, body fat, muscles, and bones. An optimal level of digestive fire is key to a healthy digestive system and nutritional sufficiency.

On the contrary, disturbed digestive fire leads to digestive health problems, poor quality and quantity of body tissues, and a weakened immune function.

One can suffer from disturbed digestive fire in three ways. Each specific way leads to its specific health symptoms as listed below:

Slow digestive fire – Manda agni

Slow digestive fire leads to sluggish metabolism and accumulation of toxins in the body. It causes blocked channels, weight gain, and nutritional deficiencies. Some of the common health disorders are indigestion, heaviness, lack of appetite, a sense of incomplete bowel, and water retention.

In Ayurveda, Kapha type of digestion is called Manda Agni

A sluggish digestion leads to build up of wastes and toxins in the body. This triggers multiple health problems related to inflammation and allergies.

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Do not eat heavy foods when suffering from poor digestive fire

In this case, our body is not able to assimilate any kind of foods that is being eaten. Hence, it is of no use to keep feeding heavy to digest foods, as they will simply not be broken down. In fact, they will get deposited in the body tissues as undigested matter, which leads to toxin build up in the body.

One needs to first strengthen the digestive fire by either practicing fasting or by taking in light to digest meals, and also by using herbs and spices that stimulate digestion.

High digestive fire – Tikshna agni

High digestive fire leads to unusual levels of hunger and fast elimination of foods through the digestive tract.

It causes incomplete digestion and nutritional deficiencies, even when you are consuming a healthy diet. Some of the common health disorders are diarrhea, burning sensation, and acidity.

In Ayurveda, Pitta type of digestion is called Tikshna Agni

An incomplete digestion leads to nutritional deficiencies and related health problems even if a person is consuming healthy foods.

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Do not eat heaty foods when suffering from high digestive fire

In this case, there is excessive secretion of digestive enzymes and digestive juices. It leads to irritation and inflammation of the digestive tract.

In addition, there is an increased peristalsis (movement) of the intestines. Hence, it leads to fast movement of food through the digestive system.

So, one should completely avoid the heaty, spicy and fried foods that will further irritate your intestines. Also, since the food is already moving too fast our of your body system, you need to slow it down by consuming heavier, yet easy to digest foods.

Consuming fibrous green vegetables with ample of grains and beans will help to adjust the digestive fire.

Irregular digestive fire – Vishma Agni

Irregular digestive fire manifests as unpredictable appetite and irregular digestion. For example, a person would suddenly feel an irresistible bout of hunger, but then gets satisfied with a small quantity of food. And at other times, one would have no or low appetite.

One may feel extremely hungry at times or bloated otherwise. One of the common health disorder of irregular digestive fire is Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

In Ayurveda, Vata type of digestion is called vishama agni.

An irregular digestion leads to nutritional deficiencies and related health problems even if a person is consuming healthy foods.

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Do not eat raw, fibrous, and cold foods when suffering from irregular digestive fire

Since the digestive fire is highly sensitive, one needs to properly nurture it by consuming easy to digest, unctuous, and warm foods. Avoiding all the factors that slow down, hamper, or shock the digestive fire will be highly helpful.

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About the Author

Dr. Pawan Bansal (Ayurveda Acharya)

Dr. Pawan Bansal is the Founder of Medhya Herbals. He is a registered Ayurvedic Practitioner with more than 40 years of experience in Ayurvedic and Herbal treatment. He has successfully cured his patients from chronic health issues related to Poor Digestion, Low Immunity, InFertility, PCOS, Joint Pain, Arthritis, Psoriasis, Inflammation, Chronic Cough, and Sinusitis. Dr. Bansal is passionate about Life and believes that one should enjoy it’s simple gifts to be Healthy and Happy.

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