Ayurveda is an ancient health system that focuses on the body as a whole instead of isolating organs or systems. It is very holistic-minded and encompasses the body, mind, and spirit as one. Ayurveda seeks to help you find balance in your life. The principle of ‘like increases like’ is a common theme in Ayurveda.

Prakriti is thought to be energy or matter, which are categorized as earth, water, air, fire, and ether. Your unique makeup is comprised of the three doshas: vata, kapha, and pitta. You have a unique balance of these three doshas, usually with one or two prominent over the others. Your prakriti is the two doshas that are most prominent. Understanding your unique combination of these energies can help you improve your health.

Vata dosha is comprised of air and ether. Vata types are usually creative, light, flowing, and idealistic. Vata is the dosha of communication, movement, and inspiration.

Pitta dosha is comprised of fire and water. Pitta types are usually action-oriented, driven, competitive, and determined. Pitta is the dosha of passion, metabolism, and transformation.

Kapha dosha is comprised of water and earth. Kapha types are usually sturdy, calm, heavy, and grounded. Kapha is the dosha of cohesion, love, and structure.

Digestion is thought of as a fire in Ayurveda, called agni. There are four main types of digestion according to Ayurveda. These are balanced, irregular, intense, and weak.

Balanced is what we all aim for, but many people are not reaching due to the standard American diet along with high stress levels. If your digestion is balanced, you digest food well and have regular bowels.

Irregular digestion is often associated with vata imbalance. You have an erratic, changing appetite. You experience bloating, gas, indigestion, intestinal cramps, dry stools, irregular bowel movements, dry skin, and constipation. Vata’s cold, airy, and mobile qualities interfere with agni, making appetite change quickly.

Intense digestion is characterized by sharp, intense pangs of hunger, poor digestion, loose stools, intense thirst or parched feeling, and hypermetabolism. These symptoms are associated with pitta dosha imbalance. The light, hot qualities of pitta typically support agni, but can inflame it, exacerbating the digestive fire. You might experience an insatiable appetite, rashes, acne, heartburn, acidity, or hot flashes and have difficulty skipping meals.

Weak digestion is usually due to an imbalance of kapha dosha. Kapha’s heaviness and coolness can suppress agni, leading to sluggish bowels, bulky stools, slow digestion, and lethargy. Other symptoms can include dull or low appetite, a heavy feeling, congestion, allergies, and even obesity. Kapha types typically have a stable appetite and love food, maybe eating for comfort at times.

Below are some tips for supporting and stimulating digestion overall:

  • Eat mindfully and in the present. Take your time at meals and eat undistracted.
  • Give your body time, allowing it to fully process meals. This means leaving at least three to four hours between each meal. Avoid grazing off and on all day long.
  • Drink more water between meals instead of during meals. Vata types usually need to drink the most water due to their dry qualities. Pitta types often need a good amount as well, with kapha types needing to drink the least water.
  • Consume warming herbs and spices such as ginger, cumin, fennel, cardamom, and anise. This tip goes back to the principle of ‘like increases like’; these warming foods help to stoke the fire of agni.
  • Try some deep breathing and meditation exercises. This can help to calm the mind and get you out of stress mode, making it easier for your body to digest food.
  • Always eat seated, not standing or walking. Take the time to relax and enjoy your meal; this can make a big difference in helping your digestion. I suggest avoiding eating while driving or watching television. Try to eat in a relaxing environment when possible.
  • Ayurveda does have some food combining rules that they suggest, but I won’t get too in depth with these. It says certain wrong combinations of foods can upset and interfere with proper digestion. For example, two beliefs they have include that fruit should be eaten on its own, unaccompanied by other foods, and that raw and cooked foods should not be consumed together. There are also specific foods you can eat that might help to balance your doshas. There are foods that are pacifying to vata, pitta, and kapha, and foods that are tridoshic, or help to balance all three doshas. I suggest looking for Ayurvedic cookbooks for recipes specific to certain doshic types.

    If you want to learn more about Ayurveda, I would love to chat with you. I can help you determine your prakriti (doshic constitution) and optimize your digestion. Two good books I recommend on Ayurveda that have tons of great information on nutrition, digestion, and much more include “Discovering the True You with Ayurveda” by Sebastian Pole or “Idiot’s Guide to Ayurveda” by Sahara Rose Ketabi.

    I am a holistic health coach and would love to help you dive deeper into your wellness to find solutions to the things that are concerning you. I can help you set achievable goals to better your overall health and get harmful toxins out of your home.

    You can reach me by email at nourishmentwithnicole@gmail.com. You can also visit my website to find more information about health and Ayurveda, and to schedule a call with me if you’d like: https://nourishmentwithnicole.com.

    I hope you learned some valuable information today about Ayurveda and healthy digestion. Best of luck in your wellness journey!

    ~Nicole Tolbert
    Nourishment with Nicole