Digestive fire is called ‘Agni’ in Ayurveda. This biological fire governs our metabolism and works as a catalyst in the digestion process. Our longevity, intelligence, and understanding depends upon this fundamental element. The digestive fire breaks down what ever we eat; transforms into a nutritious subtle form for the tissues to keep us healthy and working. The acidic nature of gastric juice also constantly stimulates our digestion. A similar kind of fire is also present in every tissue and cell of the body. Hence, in nut-shell there are two major forms of fire-digestive and cellular.
A healthy digestion builds immunity, and destroys micro-organisms, foreign bacteria and toxins thereby protecting digestive flora and cellular immunity. When the belly fire is physiologically impaired, because of improper dietary habits. It fails to perform its normal function of digestion; and affecting our first line of defense against the disease and causing varied pathologies starting from stomach to all the way to tissue level. The food we eat doesn’t get properly digested, absorbed and assimilated. The undigested food produces more waste, which stays in the stomach and cells instead of being expelled. Constipation is one of the most common symptoms of poor digestion. The intermediate digestive products produces lack of energy, inertia, heaviness, indigestion, and loss of appetite from retarded digestion. In Ayurveda, this is called, ‘Ama’ which is the root cause of all diseases.
However, overactive Agni is also detrimental to the health. When its hyperactive, because of over combustion food is burned out too fast without absorption of nutrients and leading to emaciation. As Deepak Chopra says, ‘Unfortunately, in Western medicine, we aren’t trained to ask the key question “How strong is my digestive fire?” and we treat patients by calculating their body weight and age. However, Ayurveda’s emphasis on belly fire, is to achieve utmost health by never disregarding the signals of digestion or indigestion sent by our brain.
In today’s world with plenty of food choices, how you can keep your fire ignited! Ayurveda mentions some simple tips to follow-
- Eat only and only when you are hungry
- Eat freshly prepared warm meals
- Eat only 2/3 of capacity-leaving room for air to help move the food
- Take small sips of water during meals-purpose is not to dilute your natural HCL
- Drink preferably warmer water-purpose is not to dampen the fire with cold water
- Use Ginger as often you can
Your health depends upon your ability to digest and digestion ultimately depend upon your digestive fire. Your body is your own doctor, read it every day and every time you eat.
Writing on ‘Importance Digestive fire or Agni in Ayurveda’ is in continuation of my reflection to contribute to Vibrant Healthy Communities. Share your thoughts, do you observe your biological fire before eating!