Food Combining in Ayurveda is a huge key to your digestion. It is important to take into account the food and how it is prepared and combined. Always look at qualitiesof foods, herbs, seasons, etc. when it comes to balancing your system. Certain food combinations can disturb the normal functions of digestion and upset the balance of the doshas. This can produce indigestion, fermentation, putrefacation and gas. Ama is the end result and the root of most disease.
Foods that are light are easiest to digest and foods that are heavy are more difficult to digest. You can eat more of the light foods and they tend to stimulate appetite and digestion. The heavy foods are great for grounding, strengthening, nourishment but it takes more energy to digest (this can suppress appetite), so eat heavy foods in small quantities.
Foods are also either hot or cold. Hot foods stimulate digestion and cold foods calm or slow digestion. Foods can also be either oily (used in moderation promotes lubrication of the digestive tract but in excess can overwork the liver and gallbladder) or dry (can inhibit digestion and cause dehydration), smooth (can soothe digestion) or rough (move digestion and elimination along). The list goes on and on but hopefully these few examples start to paint a picture for you.
Remember climate (NW CO), lifestyle (stress, for example), pesticides/herbicides and environmental pollutants also influence the effect of food on our digestive systems.
When two or more foods having different taste, energy, or post digestive effects are combined, digestion can become overloaded, slow down or inhibit the enzyme system and result in ama. These same foods though, eaten alone, might stimulate digestion, be quickly digested and might help to burn ama.
Milk (heavy, cold, sweet) is incompatible with bananas (heavy, heating, sour) and causes confusion to our digestive system and often results in diminished digestion and upsetting the balance of intestinal flora, which could result in congestion, cold, cough, allergies, hives, rash.
Now, you have a ton of information but how to apply it all? Here are few rules to eat by:
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Oil Pulling: after brushing your teeth and scraping your tongue in the morning put about a TBS of organic sesame, coconut or veg oil in our mouth and swish around for 2-20 minutes. The longer the better. Overall, it pulls ama out of the various channels of the body via the mouth, while cleaning the teeth, breath, helping with receding gums and overall health. I use sesame oil and spit it out in the trash can when I am done because it will really clog the plumbing. You would think it makes your mouth feel slimy but it doesn't at all but sometimes I do rinse after with warm water. The other reasons it works for overall health - for ex) joint mobility is due to the fact we all dry out as we age so this is a subtle way to pull the toxins out, while lubricating the tissues that are drying out.
Hing aka Asafoetida, Silphium, Devli's Dung to name a few; latin name Ferula assafoetida, dates back to eighth century BC. It is a hard resinous gum that is ground and used in many Indian dishes as a replacement for onions or garlic and for preventing gas. It's strong smell is likened to stinky feet but it's health promoting benefits out-way the awful smell and (thank goodness) the smell dissipates as it cooks. Primarily it is used in dishes that cause gas, bloating and constipation so a wonderful addition to any bean, legume or cruciferous dish. Only a pinch is needed and can be added to oil, water or broth. Besides it's benefits for digestion and curtailing flatulence it has many medicinal benefits. It is useful for bronchitis, asthma, whooping cough and respiratory ailments, as well as toothaches, colick (in India a newborn's first taste is asafoetida to prevent colick and digestive disorders), a contraceptive, flu prevention, and reduces vata. When buying Asafoetida you will usually find it is mixed with wheat and other anti-caking agents but a wheat-free reliable source, mixed with the herb fenugreek is found at www.ayurveda.com and comes in a 1 oz. glass jar with a metal lid for $3.50. What is fenugreek - that will be another blog!
Neti Pot and Nasya Oil - fill your ceramic or stainless steel neti pot with 1/4 tsp of sea salt and warm distilled water. This daily ritual will clear the mucous membranes, remove any dust or pollen, and cleanse the sense of smell. Immediately after, blow your nose until the water has been evacuated. Be careful not to hurt your ear drums by blowing too hard. Then use sesame oil or a specially formulated nasya oil for this purpose to replace the moisture that has been lost from the salt water. You can put the oil on your fingertip and lubricate the inside of your nasya passage or squirt a few drops of the oil in your nose and inhale deeply. The salt and oil ritual balance the sense of smell and create a healthy clean environment so bacteria and pollens can't adhere. This is best done before a pranayama or yoga practice.
Fifteen Minute Vegetable Curry
This goes well with plain rice or bread.
Brush your teeth for 2 minutes. I recommend, "toothpaste. Next, scrape your tongue 4-5 times, using a tongue scraper or the edge of a metal spoon. Start at the back of the tongue and scrape towards the front. Don't be too rough but do remove the residue. Do not use your toothbrush. Scraping your tongue removes the toxins that your liver processed during the night and deposited the toxic residue on your tongue - yuck! Scraping the tongue also freshens the breath and stimulates the organs and digestion. Your tongue is a map of your internal organ system. Check out your tongue each morning-it's all telling!
Ghee is the most popular and pure form of fat recommended in Ayurveda. It stimulates digestion and boosts the immune system.
Ingredients: 2 sticks unsalted butter
Directions: Simmer butter in a pot on medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Milk solids will start to brown and settle at the bottom. The transparent liquid that rises to the top is Ghee. Strain the ghee through a cheesecloth or sieve into a thick glass jar and store at room temperature. Do not refrigerate. Use 1 teaspoon of ghee with rice, pasta, or bread.
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Ama is toxins. A toxin is defined as anything that is poison to the body and can cause disease and/or stress to our organism. When we ingest wrong food, wrong impressions ama can be created in our organism (body & mind). Ama can lodge itself in our tissues and can cause gas, foul breath, malabsorption, just to name a few. You may see a white coating on the tongue, sticky stools and no matter what you eat the food just doesn't seem to be assimilated-you just don't feel right. Do you have any of these symptoms? It may be time to do a spring cleanse-visit your local Ayurvedic practitioner to access your level of ama and to set your digestion straight! If our digestion is strong, then ama can't find a home. Reset your digestion!
Ama Buster (take 1 tsp of these combined ground, dry herbs in hot water after a meal or during a meal 2-3x/day)
1 T ginger
1 T coriander
1 T cumin
2 T dry mint
2 T fennel
Whole Healing Ayurveda
The teachings of Ayurveda are as pertinent today as they were thousands of years ago.