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!
Ama – Toxins building up in the body
If you have diminished Agni – digestive fire within you, then the food remains undigested. The undigested food is sticky in nature and is called “Ama”. Ama is the primary reason behind modern lifestyle physical and mental health issues.
Ama is deposited in the body within excessive fats leading to weight gain, weakness, lowered agni and hence slow metabolism, and further deposition of fats.
Ama is caused due to inappropriate eating habits and careless lifestyle. For a proper removal of Ama “Toxins” from your body, you need to adopt a holistic lifestyle with physical activity. Also ensure that you are consuming foods that provide you with essential micronutrients, antioxidants, and fiber.
Causes of imbalance of Agni which slow down the Metabolism
- Having spicy and oily food along with milk and milk products regularly.
- Consumption of caffeine, tobacco and alcohol.
- Irregular food habits and sleep cycles.
- Medications like pain killers, antibiotics, oral contraceptives and steroids.
- Intestinal parasites.
- Diseases of pancreas, liver, gall bladder, intestinal infections etc.
- Pregnancy, premenstrual period, menopausal period in women.
- Emotional imbalances such as anxiety, stress, examination, family tension, etc.
Lifestyle tips to ignite Agni and get better metabolism rates
- Manage your stress.
- Drink a lot of water and keep your body hydrated. However, never drink water after food, keep a gap of at least 30 minutes between meal and water.
- Eat slowly and avoid multitasking.
- Chew your food at least 35 times so that it is almost liquid before swallowing.
- Eat real, whole, organic foods, especially high-antioxidant vegetables.
- Avoid a high sugar / high starch diet.
- Eat veggies and greens with animal proteins (fish, meat, eggs).
- Eat fruits at regular intervals but not with meals. Also avoid eating fruits immediately after meals.
- Eliminate coffee, tea, alcohol, sugar and tobacco.
- Avoid spicy and fried food.
- Avoid drinking cold liquids before or during meals.
- The enzymes and acids activated by chewing gum can cause bloating and overproduction of stomach acid.
- Take a 10-minute walk after dinner. This aids in digestion and reduces stress.
Yoga Asanas to fire up Agni and Metabolism
- Empty your bowels and have a glass of warm water with squeezed lemon.
- After that stand shoulder distance apart.
- With bent knees, spine straight, bend slightly forward from the waist.
- Palms rest on the knees, or just above, so the back isn’t sacrificed.
- Breathe in deeply, exhale all air, tuck chin slightly, contract belly to spine, holding breath in this position, then push it all the way out.
- This provides internal organs with a deep internal massage; do these contractions while holding the breath.
- Do as many as you are able to, working towards building the number of repetitions.
- Inhale and slowly return to standing.
Balasana (Child’s Pose)
- Come to the floor onto knees and palms.
- Sit onto the heels.
- Bring thighs side-by-side.
- Guide belly onto thighs.
- Forehead to the mat.
- Bring arms back beside thighs, palms facing upwards.
- Stay here with a focus on the quality of the breath for 10-15 breaths.
- Inhale to come up onto the knees and palms into a tabletop position to prepare for Cat/Cow Sequence.
Chakravakasana (Cat-Cow Sequence)
- Place hands shoulder distance apart, align knees directly under hips, toes tucked under.
- Inhale, head and tailbone up to Cow, as if in a backbend on the knees.
- Exhale to round the spine, tuck pelvis, belly button to spine, gaze at the belly, Cat.
- Link this movement to the breath, for 5-6 rounds
Virasana (Hero’s Pose)
- From tabletop, bring feet side-by-side, shift weight and sit on heels.
- With a straight spine, place palms onto thighs, close the eyes and concentrate on the breath for 5 minutes, or for as long as it is comfortable.
*Avoid if you have knee or ankle injury.
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