Have you ever heard the term “you are what you eat”? Well, at Santa Cruz Ayurveda we take it a step further and suggest: you are what you digest. Ayurveda puts a strong emphasis on the right food choices and kindling a strong Agni, or digestive fire in order to fully assimilate all the nutrients you are taking in through food. Ayurveda serves not only to help cure, but also to educate and empower people to heal and nourish the body, mind, and spirit. We believe that a healthy digestive system is the key to having more radiance, energy, and vibrancy in life. This is why we created our six month Gut Healing Protocol, which works to restore the digestive system to natural harmony through detoxification, restoration, and rejuvenation.
A properly functioning Agni (or digestive fire) is essential for absorption of nutrients and removal of Ama (toxins) from the body. When there is an imbalance in diet and lifestyle, the doshas can be aggravated and digestive fire weakened. This leads to the decline in healthy gut bacteria and our digestive system stops working properly. This means that we get less nutrition per caloric intake because the Agni is too weak to properly break down food. The undigested bits of food are then stored in fat cells as Ama. Ama is the foul, slimy, sticky buildup of toxins and is the root of all disease. When there is too much toxins in the body, it can lead to many illnesses such as cold and flu, allergies, weight gain, auto immune, insomnia, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Therefore, it is essential to nip Ama in the bud and remove it before it starts to build up and become problematic. The first two months of our program is spent detoxing the digestive system by removing foods that are difficult to digest and can cause Ama. Some signs and symptoms of Ama are:
-Feeling fatigued or lethargic
-Clogged channels (sinus congestion, constipation, lymph congestion)
Ama disrupts the digestive system by blocking energy channels and by killing some of the critically important gut bacteria. These little bugs crucial for regulating metabolism, protecting against infection, GI function, synthesizing essential nutrients, and regulating the immune system. It is estimated that the human gut contains 100 trillion of these little bugs. That’s ten times as many cells as we have in the human body! So it’s so wonder that when the gut has imbalances and this gut flora is disrupted that our health quickly declines. This can be problematic since our gut is the home to 60-80% of our immune system. Immunity translates into healthy Ojas (vitality), Tejas (radiance), and Prana (life force). So when our gut health is poor, the immune system is weakened and illness can settle in the body.
The gut has been nicknamed the “second brain” due to the mind and gut connection. There is an intimate 2-way communication between the gut and the brain, mediated by many pathways including the vagus nerve. Our digestive system is home to a complex, independent nervous system called the enteric nervous system (ENS), which lines the gastrointestinal tract. The ENS is where up to 90% of our neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine, and nitric oxide are produced. So when our digestive system is weak, not only does our physical health suffer, but also our mental health does as well. This is why it is essential to have a happy, healthy digestive system. Ayurveda is one of the best modalities to have a healthy gut because of its holistic and long-term approach. It incorporates food, herbs, massage, and lifestyle choices to help restore health to the gut. These ancient techniques focus on attuning people with their own internal state and with the natural rhythms around them.
In next week’s blog, we will discuss how our Gut Healing Protocol works to detoxify, restore and rejuvenate the digestive system to help you find your souls purpose through health and vibrancy.
Santa Cruz Ayurveda
Mischke, Melody. “Ama: The Antithesis of Agni”. Banyan Botanicals. N.d. Web. June 12th, 2016.
Douillard, John. “Gut Health by Body Type (Vata, Pitta, Kapha)”. Life Spa. October 6th, 2016. Web. June 12th, 2016.