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3 Easy ways to stimulate your digestive fire

Stimulating your Digestive Fire

The healing tradition of Ayurveda teaches that health and wellbeing depends upon our ability to digest everything we take in from the environment. The term 'Agni' is used to refer to one's “digestive fire” that breaks down the food and other things we ingest from the environment, assimilating what is useful, and eliminating the rest. When our digestive ability, or agni, is strong, we create healthy tissues, and eliminate waste products efficiently.

One of the most important aspects of our digestive fire, is our stomach acid, which is essential to good digestion. Without enough stomach acid our food is not properly broken down. If our food is not broken down properly, this can lead to food sensitivities and nutrient deficiencies. Factors leading to low stomach acid levels can include high coffee intake, stress, overconsumption of sugar and processed foods, and drinking ice cold water directly before or during meals (always drink warm or room temp. water throughout the day, away from meals!).

Here are 3 easy ways to stimulate your digestion that you can incorporate into your every day routine:

1. Bitters
When you consume foods or liquids with a bitter taste, this stimulates the production of saliva, gastric juices and bile to prepare your body to digest foods. You can start your meals off with bitter greens such as dandelion, swiss chard, endive, or arugula for example, or you can find herbal bitters in liquid form at your local health food store, which will be derived from bitter plants. You simply apply a few drops of the bitter liquid to your tongue 15 minutes before a meal and you're set!

2. Apple cider vinegar
Drinking a glass of warm water mixed with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (look for organic, raw, unpasteurized) 15-20 minutes before a meal can improve digestion and nutrient assimilation by increasing stomach acid production. Start with 1 tablespoon - you can always add a little more if you need! You can also drizzle some apple cider vinegar directly onto your salads with some olive oil and sea salt as a salad dressing.

3. Lemon water
Drinking a glass of warm water with a quarter or a half of lemon squeezed into it in the morning is a great way to prepare your digestive system for the day. Lemon promotes the production of not only stomach acid, but bile which is required to break down fats. Lemon water also helps flush toxins from the liver and support it's functions.

Incorporating lemon water into your daily morning routine, including bitters at the beginning of your meals, and adding apple cider vinegar into your weekly habits are incredibly simple ways to help out your digestive system and get things moving as they should!

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