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Agni, The Digestive Fire

An important concept in Ayurveda is the digestive fire which kindles all biological processes. Ayurveda refers to this by the sanskrit term, agni. It is manifested by enzymes and acids that break down the food in your stomach and intestines (like a fire), so that the cells of your body can assimilate the nutrients. When agni is strong, the enzymes and acids do a thorough job of breaking down and metabolizing the foods you eat so that they can provide proper nourishment for your cells and tissues to function and replenish themselves. Agni also destroys harmful bacteria, microorganisms, and toxins in your digestive tract.

Improvement and maintenance of good health and a vibrant appearance are dependent on proper care and nourishment of agni.

Actions which disrupt agni are

  • overeating
  • improper nourishment
  • eating at inappropriate times (late at night, etc.)
  • eating too fast
  • eating when upset
  • eating poor food combinations
  • inattention to act of eating (watching TV, etc while eating)
  • drinking iced drinks
  • drinking excessive liquids during a meal
  • drinking coffee with or after meals
  • eating stale foods
  • eating microwaved foods (destroys life force)
  • excessive sleep
  • extreme climates
  • anger, rage, and immoral actions.

Actions that you can take to balance your agni are as follows: eat fresh, nutritious foods (preferably fruits and vegetables, in season), eat moderate portions at meals (about two handfuls), chew well, properly spice foods, stimulate your appetite with a small amount of bitter herbs before meals.

There are a number of signs that indicate that agni is low: gas, burping, slow digestion, constipation, and dull complexion. Agni is increased by hot, fragrant spices like ginger, black pepper, and cayenne.

Agni can also go out of balance and be too high. Signs of this are strong belching, diarrhea, burning in digestive tract, rashes, heavy perspiration, and feelings of agitation.

Signs of balanced agni include:

  • Bright eyes
  • Pleasant body odor and breath
  • Clear, straw-colored urine
  • Normal feces without strong smell
  • Good digestion
  • No discomfort after eating
  • No belching of gas
  • Enthusiasm for life and work
  • Cheerfulness
  • Abundant energy
  • Strong resistance to disease
  • Hunger before next regular meal

Next >>> Ama - What It Is and How to Eliminate and Prevent It

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