What Are the Signs of a Healthy Digestive Tract?
A healthy digestive tract is marked by “good appetite, good digestion and good elimination.” This will produce a clean tongue coating, a postive feeling after eating, and regular, easy, productive elimination.
What is good appetite? Good appetite means feeling hungry at meal times, anywhere from two to five times per day, depending on your dosha. There is no rule about times, just that you should crave food fairly strongly with regularity. If you don’t that is typically a sign of weak digestive fire/Agni.
What is good digestion? Good digestion means feeling good after eating; pleasantly full, but not bloated, too tired, gassy, in pain, without nausea, heartburn excessive belching or any other negative sensations.
What is good elimination? Good elimination is both regular and easy. To be specific that means the regular urge to eliminate digestive by-products, and being able to do so easily, without struggle, and producing “stool” akin, I apologize for being graphic, to a ripe banana, neither rocks, nor snakes, nor pudding. The stool of a balanced healthy digestive tract tends to float rather than sink, and is slightly oily, but not sticky; there should not be a need for tons of toilet paper. Of course any of the above could occur once in a way, but in the main, good elimination means the easy regular production of something like a ripe banana. Voila!
What Are the Causes of an Unhealthy Digestive Tract?
First is diets .
Not enough freshly cooked vegetables, not enough fresh food, too much old restaurant food, too much canned and frozen food, too much refined flour, sugar, and processed foods, too much junk food. Not enough green leafy cooked vegetables, too much salad, too much cold food, too much iced beverages and cold drinks, a lack of the sense of seasonal eating, not enough use of culinary herbs and spices that stimulate digestive enzymes.
Americans have so many fad diets, too much compensation with fiber and vitamin supplements that miss the point of a healthy diet and of learning to listen to your own body and eating intuitively. You should be able to tell whether something makes you feel good or bad, on a deep level. That means how do you feel later, not did that ice cream make you feel good short term.
Second is lifestyle.
Rushed and tight reactions to stressors sends our nervous systems into the fight or flight response. Nature hypes up the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, but shuts down digestive enzymes and peristalsis in the intestines and sends blood into the large muscles. The result? Tight muscles, excess stomach acid, and lack of movement in the intestines. Then there is my patient who goes for a run every day after lunch. A light stroll can aid digestion. But a run places emphasize away from the digestive tract and into the muscles and tendons. This will definitely impede good digestion.
Third is repression of nature’s urge.
The more you repress that, the more you will tend to constipation. You are training yourself not to go. Some people also are afraid to use other people’s or public bathrooms. Try carrying antibacterial thingies with you to solve this problem.
Fourth are anxieties and compulsions around the eating process.
This is a very big subject that ranges from obsession with ‘toxins” and fear of “unhealthy food” (which puts the body into fight or flight anytime food is involved), to fear of gaining weight and body image issues, to just being unable to relax when eating or just not enjoying eating. Suffice to say that if you don’t enjoy your meal and don’t relax while eating, for whatever reason, internal or external, your own feelings, or the environment you eat in, (like at your desk while working) you will not digest well.
Diseases and syndromes associated with an Unhealthy Digestive Tract or Digestive Process include GERD, Ulcers, Gastritis, IBS, Ulcerative Colitis, Diverticulitis, chronic Constipation. But there are a whole host of immune disorders and diseases like eczema, psoriasis, chronic asthma or allergies that you cannot really cure without first clearing up the digestive process.
What Are the Remedies for an Unhealthy Digestive Tract?
Central to the Ayurvedic consultation is working out the diet, lifestyle, and herbal remedies that best serves your unique, individual Prakruiti (body-mind type.
Chief among herbal remedies is Trifala, or Ayush Trifal, in the brand I use. Please see http://ayurshalom.blogspot.com/2006/09/triphal-powerful-tonic-for-digestive.html for an in-depth description of this premier super food type herbal.
But both Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine excel at the Macro and Micro management of diet, nutrition, and the treatment of diseases by correcting digestive issues.
Both see the middle of the body as the “central pivot” for the fueling of body processes. If the engine is not running clean, the car does not run fast.
If the soil is poor, the plants do not grow well and produce inferior fruit.
It’s just that simple.
Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diego
Great post! I believe a healthy diet would make not only your digestive system but your whole body healthy as well.
couldn't agree more!