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June 15, 2021

What’s your Digestive Type? An Āyurvedic Guide to great Gut Health.

Have you ever wondered why some people suffer from constant gastric distress while others can eat total garbage and be cool?

Has the origin of your own inability to escape gas, acid reflux, or a feeling of heaviness left your medicine cabinet filled with digestive enzymes, Pepto Bismol, or Prilosec?

Then, read on, because this information may lead you to understand what has eluded you for years.

Gut health has been an increasingly popular catchphrase, and with good reason. Our gut health is a huge determining factor of our quality of life, and scientists have identified how critical a healthy microbiome is to immunity, serotonin production, and of course, simply digesting your food.

Ayurveda has been saying the same for over 5,000 years and has taken things a step further to classify our digestive health into one of four categories that serve as a marker for how, what, and even when you should eat.

Read on and learn what your type is and how to balance your diet and lifestyle so you can stay happy, healthy, and live in bliss instead of with a bellyache.

The four types of Agni: Sama, Vishama, Manda, and Tikshno

Sama Agni

Sama Agni is the goal of Ayurveda and the ultimate marker of digestive health. Sama means balanced, and having this type of Agni gives a beautiful complexion, incredible immunity, and a glow to your skin.

How do you know if you have Sama Agni? Sama Agni is characterized by a feeling of lightness and energy after meals, a balanced appetite that triggers eating only when there is actual hunger, and stool that floats, is well formed, doesn’t stick, and comes with regularity every single day.

How do you attain Sama Agni? It is achieved by taking remedial measures to balance the following Agni types listed below:

Vishama Agni: “Irregular”

The gas blaster

Ruled by Vāta, this type of digestion is characterized by irregularity in pretty much everything. The appetite is irregular, your bowel movements are irregular, and everything you do is…irregular.

Vishama people are constantly grazing and rarely sit down for a full meal. They often get gas and bloating and can be very sensitive to heavier foods. They tend toward constipation and often have very dry stools. They also tend to be weaker physically because diminished digestion means diminished physical strength.

How to balance

In Ayurveda, we balance with opposites, and the keywords for balancing Vishama are regular mealtimes and hot, well-spiced foods. People with Vishama Agni should focus on sitting down to eat and actually focusing on their food.

Small, regular meals are much better than snacking constantly, and here is why:

Eating a meal grounds us into our bodies, and Vishama people need to feel grounded as they tend to be spacey and unfocused. Meals should be warm and well-spiced because this makes food easier to digest, which is a struggle for Vishama people because their digestive fire is “low.” Committing to sitting down and focusing on our meals also pulls us away from distractions—that is often the tendency of Vishama—and brings us back into the habit of doing one thing at a time.

Foods to favor:

Soups, ghee, organic poultry, wild-caught salmon, heavier fruits like mango, cherimoyas, berries, and pear. Keep nuts to 10 at a time.

Reduce or minimize:

Old or dry food, snacks, chips, wheat, astringent vegetables like kale and broccolini.

Remedies:

Gas relief supplements, CCF tea, cumin, hingvastika

Tikshna Agni: “Acid Reflux”

The Hangry One

Tikshna means sharp, and people with this type of Agni epitomize the word “hangry.” Tikshno Agni is characterized by a seemingly insatiable appetite, and suffering if a meal is missed.

People with Tikshna Agni are prone to conditions like acid reflux and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and can get extreme nausea if they don’t eat because they have an excess of stomach acid. Bowel movements are frequent—sometimes three times a day or more.

Why is this a problem?

When food moves through us too quickly, our bodies are less able to assimilate nutrients. Digestion takes time, and shortening the time of digestion can reduce its efficiency greatly, leaving you feeling tired and run down due to malabsorption.

Physically. you may have red or flushed cheeks, and you might find that you are very impatient and critical, psychologically.

How to balance

This type of digestion indicates a pitta imbalance—having too much fire. It is best balanced through cooling substances and a pitta pacifying diet. Things that have to be eliminated are foods that are sour, salty, and spicy in nature. See the list below.

Women who suffer from extreme pre-menstrual symptoms would also do well to follow this diet as it may help reduce symptoms such as irritability and excess bleeding.

Another secret culprit of this type of digestion can be raw food. Raw food contains a lot of air quality, and air fans the flames of fire. If you notice an increase in Tikshna Agni type of symptoms after starting your raw food vegan diet, this is why.

To avoid:

Coffee, red wine, red meat (only organic, ahimsa meat should be consumed), salty foods like potato chips and French fries, sour foods such as citrus, and spicy foods. Step away from the jalapenos and salsa, my red-faced friend. Kombucha can also be an unsuspecting culprit of this type.

To favor:

Cooling foods especially those cool in color like blue and green vegetables, coconut water, astringent vegetables, and gently steamed veggies.

Remedies:

Cilantro on everything.

Manda Agni: “Slow”

Eats even when not hungry

Manda means slow, and this type of digestion is characterized by a low digestive fire. Manda-type digestion leaves people feeling heavy after eating. This type may not experience hunger, but they eat anyway. Manda Agni types will often feel like food is sitting in their gut hours after eating, which results in feeling sluggish in general. This type might even feel like looking at food is enough for them to gain weight.

How to balance

While it is about the kind of food we eat, it is also really important to consider how much we eat. Manda digestive types can skip meals, and don’t have to eat breakfast—which is not considered the most important meal of the day in Ayurveda. It’s also important to get hungry before you eat.

In addition, Manda people should get more exercise as this directly increases digestion.

To avoid/minimize:

Heavy breakfast (you can skip it altogether), eating without hunger, cold, heavy foods like dairy and processed foods, meat, oil, damp veggies like cucumber and yam, eating late.

To favor:

Small, light, well-cooked and well-spiced meals—think savory soups, steamed vegetables, and vegetarian fare.

Remedies:

Ginger slices with lime and rock salt, CCF tea.

Remember, you are not what you eat; you are what you can digest, assimilate and absorb.

Certain rules hold true for all digestive types: eat local, eat organic, eat cruelty-free, cook daily, and cook with love.

With all my love,

Amaya Shiva

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