Got bloating or wind? These simple digestive health steps from Ayurvedic medicine can help, says Eminé Ali Rushton, author of The Body Balance Diet Plan, which decodes the ancient Indian healing science for the 21st century
1. Warm water and lime in the morning
- Before you do anything in the morning, boil your kettle and fill half a mug with boiling water, then the other half with room temperature filtered water. Drink as it is, or with a squeeze of lime if you’re feeling bloated or constipated, or with grated ginger if you’re feeling very lethargic. The feeling of warm water hitting the stomach first thing in the morning is quite incredible because it’s pouring down a pipe that’s not been used in hours. Try and leave at least 20 minutes before breakfast. It’s the quickest and easiest perk- and pick- me-up there is.
A traditional Ayurvedic remedy for gentle gut cleansing, Triphala is made from three traditional Indian fruits (haritaki, amla and bibhtaki) and also contains psyllium, liquorice, fennel and linseed – gold- standard gut-clearers! It can also help your body absorb nutrients from your food.
3. Get smart on digestion-friendly spices
- Whenever I had an upset tummy as a child, my mother would boil up a generous pinch of fennel seeds in water (the water should boil up and turn a pretty yellow-green colour) and get me to drink it. Within minutes my stomach used to start to feel better. Fennel is a truly great gut-calmer, as is ginger, which can be added to all foods or boiled up in hot drinks. Other spices that are great to add to your diet when you’re feeling off-colour are ginger, ground coriander, turmeric, cumin and black pepper – all of which are Ayurveda’s secret weapons for stoking and restoring digestive fire.
4. Eat fruit at room temperature – on an empty stomach
Ayurveda is specific about fruit and suggests it is always best eaten on an empty stomach. So after your glass of warm water in the morning, enjoy ripe fruit at room temperature. This is how we were meant to eat it – sun-warmed, first thing, fresh from the tree. When fruit is refrigerator-cold it shocks the stomach, which hinders optimal digestion. Almost all fruits taste better and sweeter at room temperature – particularly berries, peaches, apricots and melon. Get into the habit of taking fruit out of the refrigerator the night before and eating it about 40 minutes before breakfast. Another good time to enjoy fruit is mid-morning, as a snack before lunch, as you want to try to leave a couple of hours on either side – so breakfast before 9am, fruit between 10 and 11am and lunch around 1pm won’t tax those digestive juices.
When fruit is refrigerator-cold it shocks the stomach, which hinders optimal digestion.
5. Eat slower
Some doshas (these are the way body types are classified in Ayurveda and there are three – vata, pitta and kapha) really do need to take more time than others over their meals: Kapha with their sluggish digestion benefit from spending a longer time chewing; Pitta, with their tendency for internal fire, do well to eat quietly in a peaceful spot; and Vata types, who often suffer digestive upset and loose bowels, need to slow down the eating process completely, savour each mouthful, and never eat on the go (which is a common tendency with airy, and busy, Vata types). If you’re not sure what dosha or ‘body type’ you are, you can log onto balanceplan.co.uk and take the Discover your Dosha test.
6. Get your probiotics
- Achieving optimal gut health (and digestive fire) is at the heart of Ayurveda. One of the simplest ways to aid digestive fire is to boost your stomach’s healthy bacteria with a proven probiotic blend, particularly after a course of antibiotics or during illness.
- I am calling on modern wisdom here. Obviously ancient Ayurveda doesn’t have a stance on probiotics – but I’ve found, from trial and error, that my digestive fire is always strongest when I support it with probiotics and enzymes.
- We often hear that our immune system is situated in our gut: what this means is that 70 per cent of the antibacterial and antiviral cells within our body are situated in the walls of the stomach and intestines. Our stomach also produces acid, which kills off most pathogens, and our small intestine produces mucus, which blocks further potential pathogens from entering our bloodstreams. So, when your gut lining is weakened, your immunity will also be compromised.
- I really cannot overstate the importance of a healthy stomach in the pursuit of good overall health! For this reason I recommend taking a proven daily probiotic – and of all the ones I’ve tried in my 12 years as a well-being editor,
- has knocked the socks off the rest.
Eminé Ali Rushton is Beauty and Wellbeing Director at Psychologies magazine and has spent 12 years working in the industry. She’s written extensively for over 30 publications both in the UK and US and has been a consultant and copywriter for several leading wellbeing brands, including Annee de Mamiel and Neom. She believes that health is our greatest asset and is a passionate believer in the ancient science of Ayurveda and despite a busy working and home life, she tries to live in tune with the seasons – with her husband and two young children in Kent. She is the author of new book The Body Balance Diet Plan: Lose Weight, Gain Energy and Feel Fantastic with the Science of Ayurveda and founder of balanceplan.co.uk