Welcome to day three of my 30 Days of Ayurveda series! Throughout these blogs and videos, I will be sharing some upbeat thoughts and wellness tips, as well as some Ayurvedic tricks and food recommendations to help you lead a balanced life.
Agni, Digestive System and Ginger
Today, I thought I’d talk about the Agni, digestive system and ginger. A really important part of Ayurevda, we call it Agni, which is Sanskrit for fire. Depending on the digestive comfort (or discomfort) of an individual, we can discover quite a lot about the functioning of the digestive system. We look for a variety of things, and then think about how we can remedy them. For example; is there is a lot of gas (either before or after eating), smells, general bloating or discomfort? If you prefer watching instead of reading check out the video below, otherwise please continue on.
In Ayurevda, we always want to have some appetite and some hunger before meals. You may have a set mealtime routine (e.g. 6:30am for breakfast, 12:30 for lunch, and 7pm for dinner) that you practice every day. However, if you are only eating because it is mealtime —and not because you are hungry —this is a sign that something is not quite right.
So, to bring back the fire (or Agni, as we call it), we can use fresh ginger.
Ginger, which comes from the Zingiber Officinale plant, has been used as food and medicine for centuries. It is known to relieve nausea, vomiting, cramps, bloating and constipation, as well as its antitussive, anti-inflammatory, antiviral and antimicrobial properties.
In my previous blog, I spoke about how you can mix ginger with honey. It is the perfect remedy for if you feel sluggish, or suffer from mucus on the chest. Simply take a spoonful of honey in the morning with half a teaspoon fresh, chopped or crushed ginger. It can really help boost the digestive system and remove mucus (or Kapha, as it is known in Ayurveda) from the chest.
Fresh Ginger v Powdered Ginger
In Ayurevda, we use two different types of ginger: fresh and powdered.
Fresh ginger has a different property to ginger powder, which we see as being more drying. Therefore, if we want to dry out some excess mucus on the chest, we would opt for ginger powder. However, if we wanted to break down and clear the mucus, we would use fresh ginger.
In the six tastes of Ayurveda, ginger is classified as pungent (also known as Katu), and is predominately composed of the fire and air elements. Light, drying and heating in nature, pungent taste increases blood flow through the dilation of the vessels. It also contributes to maintaining a healthy weight, and can be used to treat obesity.
We also like to use fresh ginger when there isn’t a proper appetite before a meal, or if you generally suffer with a bit of digestive discomfort. In this scenario, we can take a small amount of fresh ginger and finely chop it. If you have some lemon or lime juice, simply squeeze a little bit onto the ginger and add a tiny pinch of salt. If you eat this before a meal, it can really help to increase the digestive enzymes and get the system going.
The other option, should you find ginger a bit fiery and hot, is to tone it down with sugar. You can pair it with honey and a tiny bit of salt, or use an alternative kind of sugar, such as coconut palm sugar or maple syrup, if you have them.
If you are looking for a treat, the other thing that I recommended is crystallised ginger. You may not have it in your cupboards, so keep an eye of for some next time you are out shopping!
Crystallised ginger can be really nice to have as a chew, particularly after meals, to help promote digestive comfort. However, please remember that it contains more sugar per serving than most chocolate bars! So while crystallised ginger is higher in both antioxidants and bioactive compounds than most refined sugar treats, be sure to consume it in moderation.
Over the next 30 days, I will be sharing even more tips and tricks to help you build some great Ayurvedic routines. Hopefully, they will soon be imbedded in your life and you can progress with them. Be sure to let me know how you’re getting on, and why not share what your favourite ginger remedy is? Find me on Instagram @anneheigham and on YouTube.