Sunday, July 11, 2010

Boost Your Digestive Fire

Somedays digestion is slow. We feel bloated, full, and pressure in the center part of our bodies. For some people these days come more often. These tips are for anyone who would like to know how to bulk up their digestive power and obtain more nutrients from the food. Inspiration for the tips came from studying Yoga, Western based Nutrition, Food Science, and Ayurveda. Ayurveda is the oldest system of holistic medicine and literally means the "science of life." This healing modality believes that there are three types of doshas' or groups of characteristics that describe a type of person. The type of person we are is represented through the doshas' which denote physical, mental and emotional tendencies and habits, and reactions to the environment. Find out your dosha by searching for "dosha quiz."

1. Begin to pay attention to your body and it's habits. I recommend journaling your food and beverage intake for a minimum of three days. Monitor how you really consume. This practice not only encourages good lifestyle choices but also encourages mindfulness! When you live life with both eyes open, your spine stretching to the sky, and both feet firmly planted you are more aware of how to live in a way that honors your body and its unique health


Sample food journal:

Date / Time of Day / Energy Level / Mood / Food/Beverage Description / Amount / Environment

Time of Day: Be Descriptive
Energy Level: Examples: Hyper, Sluggish, Tired, Antsy, Lazy, Energetic, etc.
Mood: How you feel, baby? :-)
Food/Beverage Description: Ingredients of the dish preferably or the name of the item
Amount: Weight or Volume such as 1 lb. or 16 oz (2 cups).
Environment: did you eat alone or with family and friends?, were you in the car?, in front of the TV/Computer?, at home or out?, etc.

Also notice your habits how often are you going to the restroom, how many hours are you sleeping, etc.

2. Start your day out with a glass of lemon water and a piece of fruit. First thing wake up and have one-two glasses of water that are lukewarm or warmer preferably. Add a little bit of fresh lemon juice and local honey. Wait about 15-25 minutes and have a piece of fruit. Of the most commonly consumed fruits: Pitta or Kapha dosha have an apple and for Vata's a banana. The fruit provides dietary fiber to encourage elimination and carbohydrates which easily convert to calories and provide important fuel for the body. Breakfast is an important meal of the day to stoke the digestive fire by starting out light you prime the fire. By slowly kindling the fires of digestion with this routine you body is prepared for the day.

3. Practice Asana (Yoga postures) to stimulate the organs of digestion. In general it is good to wake up and stretch out the body in the morning. Taking a moment to do a few forward bending and twisting Yoga postures will compress the organs of digestion, twist out the toxins, and encourage the downward energy of the body that aids in elimination.

Sample Sequence:

Baddha Konasana spinal warm-up
- Warms up the spine and frees up stagnant energy in the lower abdominal organs.

Balasana with knees together and hands near feet
- Massages the organs of digestion and calms the mind.

Cat and Cow Pose/Chakravakasana
- Gently massages the spine and belly organs.

Half-Lord of the Fishes Pose/Ardha Matsyendrasana with one leg straight
- Detoxifies by compression of vital organs when torso is twisted and held.

Seated Forward Fold Pose/Paschimottasana

- Improves digestion. Stimulates important organs like the liver and kidneys. Calms the mind and relieves stress when one relaxes into the posture.

Reclining Bound Angle Pose/Baddha Konasana
- Stimulates the organs of digestion and elimination from the bladder to the kidneys and many things in between. Stretches the inner thighs, groins, and knees. Promotes the downward or apana energy in the body.

4. Eat beans :-) Beans are a good source of soluble fiber that is highly effective in promoting the movement of food through the digestive system. They also contain protein, complex carbohydrates, folate, and iron. The key here is to drink plenty of water. Be creative and try adding beans to your normal foods! Soak beans overnight in water and drain before cooking. This process activates enzymes which aid digestion, reduces flatulence, and reduces the cooking time of the beans.

5. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate! Knowing when and how much to drink can be a tricky question because we are all unique and have different levels of fluid intake. Begin to take note of your diet for a few days with particular interest in fluid intake. Then look at the amount of water you drink compared to any other beverage. From here formulate your plan to hydrate more effectively. Drink a minimum of 75% of your beverages as pure water ideally. Dilute any gatorades or fresh juices with water to aid in absorbability!

Drink water before you feel thirsty... that is an early sign of dehydration! 

Pitta doshas commonly experience excessive thirst! These individuals may wish to drink a heavier ratio of water to other beverages of any sort ratio :-)

6. Eat slowly and chew well! (This one always gets me!) Be mindful of the body receiving nourishment chew each bite of food well before swallowing. Avoid drinking beverages of any kind during meals so that the enzymes, acids, and other digestive fluids are not diluted!

7. Eat your heaviest meal of the day at lunch time when the digestive fire is at it's strongest capacity. For dinner have something light like soup, cooked vegetables, salad, or other raw fruits and vegetables. Avoid starchy vegetables if you cook with whole grains.

Keri is an internationally Registered Yoga Teacher, Culinary Nutritionist, and Wellness Educator.  She owns and operates BAYA Wellness, LLC offering Yoga and Nutrition Services and Products.  Keri teachers both privately and publicly around the Greenville area offering on-going classes and special events.  Her path as a nutritionist is all about making healthy living approachable... she teaches the components of healthy cooking, eating, and thinking while also offering specialized services like menu planning.  Healthy living is about the whole pictures of wellness... find your path to living well.

BAYA... Be As You Are!

Contact me for details: or 864-430-1275


  1. This is great! I have recently started to be more mindful of food combining because I have a VERY sensitive digestive system and have started to start my mornings out with hot lemon water. I have been pleased with the results. I will need to try the postures you suggested!! I find that the evenings are the worst times for me as far as my " system" goes... the times when I am most uncomfortable. I am curious about the dosha quiz... I must try it!

  2. This is such a great blog, Keri! I miss your refreshing company! Would love to bring my baby girl, Aela, up and see you! I love what you are doing, so positive and helpful.

  3. Thanks for your comments. The body craves regularity and setting systems in place to help aid in regular elimination will have profound impact on your health. The ayurvedic system of healing is fascinating and very rich with knowledge. Check it out :-)