Digestion and Health – 10 things to improve your health

Panagiotis Beckiaris, a herbalist and ayurvedic practitioner came down from Athens and gave us an interesting overview on the importance of the digestive system to our health.

Panagiotis believes that many common ailments and conditions such as many allergies, psoriasis, arthritis, lethargy and tiredness stem from poor digestion

Here are ten points from his talk that can make a difference to our digestive system and therefore to our general health. Where food groups are to be ‘cut out‘ from our diet, realistically we should start by  reducing the level of consumption. *

  1. Water is a food – drink plenty of water (one or two glasses), preferably an hour before eating or a couple of hours after eating. Drink your water at room temperature (and definitely not cold).
  2. Eat well at lunch time. The digestive system is at it’s most efficient between midday and 1pm. In yoga this relates to Agni the fire of the digestive system.
  3. The process of digestion starts with the eyes. Taking time to prepare your meal, laying the table etc. will get the digestive system primed for the food to come.
  4. Relax and enjoy. The digestive system functions best when we are relaxed and not stressed or angry. The body can mistake stress for a potential ‘fight with a sabre tooth tiger’ and so energy is diverted away from digestion.
  5. Chew well. Take your time and enjoy the flavours of your food, in the process we are improving digestion of our food by increasing it’s suface area.
  6. Do not rush meal times and do not engage in other activities (T.V. computers, smart phones etc.)
  7. * Cut out sugar. Sugar can increase fermentation in the stomach and intestines. Signs of fermentation include bloating, release of gas and tiredness after eating.
  8. * Cut out Alcohol.
  9. * Cut out dairy products. Consumption of milk and milk products (amongst adults) is uniquely a human activity. The processing of milk to increase longevity in supermarkets (homogenisation, pasteurisation) as well as the use of growth hormones and antibiotics to increase production make milk a non-food.
  10. * Cut out fast foods and processed foods. In ayurveda, food that is not freshly prepared is considered a dead food and offers much less nutrition to our bodily functions.