Ask the Ayurvedic Expert: Digestion


Cholesterol

Question:
How can I lower my cholesterol? It has gone up from 215 to 301 over the past six years, even though I have been following an ayurvedic lifestyle for the past year and a half! I am definitely a Kapha mind-body type and feel that I am in balance pretty well, and I eat as healthfully as I can.

Answer:

Kapha types need less fat and oil in their diet than Vata or Pitta types. But, the latest research suggests that diet is not the only factor in high cholesterol. The ratio of "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) to "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is related to fat metabolism. The Cholesterol Protection formula will help balance this vital process and normalize total blood cholesterol.

Diet and lifestyle tips:

  • Increase the fiber and bioflavonoids in your diet. This includes cooked green, leafy vegetables and sweet, juicy fruits.
  • Psyllium seed husks will also add fiber to your diet. Take one tablespoon with warm water before bed.
  • Cook with equal parts of turmeric, cumin, coriander and fennel. Cook your vegetables with this mixture or roast it in a bit of ghee (clarified butter) and add 1 teaspoon to each meal.
  • Don't skip meals or overeat.
  • Avoid heavy, deep-fried and cold foods.
  • Exercise regularly to 50% of your capacity. That's when you start to breathe hard or break a sweat.

Digestive Gas

Question:
I've been afflicted with flatulence for 35 years — ongoing. Almost all remedial measures have afforded no relief. Nothing helps! What do you think?

Answer:
If you visit an ayurvedic doctor in person, he can do an in-depth diagnosis and recommend an effective treatment. In general, gas in the digestive tract is related to an imbalance in the movement of food (Samana Vata) and/or the breakdown of food (Pachaka Pitta).

Diet and lifestyle tips:

  • For breakfast, stew/steam a large, sweet apple with 4-5 cloves inserted into it. Note: raw apples and pears are a bit astringent and could increase gas.
  • Avoid leftovers, iced drinks and carbonated beverages.
  • Favor fresh, light and easy-to-digest foods. Heavy proteins are especially hard to digest.
  • Chew on fennel seeds 4 to 5 times a day. Mix 50% raw seeds and 50% baked.
  • Take Herbal Di-Gest tablets at mealtimes. Or, if there is hyperacidity, take Aci-Balance.
  • Maintain a regular schedule of mealtimes.
  • Don't skip meals and don't overeat.
  • Eat sweet, juicy fruits rather than dry fruits.

Heartburn

Question:

I was working with an ayurvedic doctor and had fantastic results in reducing heartburn. Now the doctor has moved away. What would you recommend?
- A.P., Michigan

Answer:
Heartburn is due to too much stomach acid. It's an imbalance in Pachaka Pitta, which is responsible for breaking down the food you eat.

Digestion is like cooking a soup. There are three basic elements: the heat (Pachaka Pitta and Pachaka Agni); the broth (Kledaka Kapha); and stirring the soup (Samana Vata). Good digestion, like a good soup, requires coordination among all three factors.

To restore balance, follow a Pitta-balancing diet and routine.

Diet and lifestyle tips:

  • Take Aci-Balance formula. It helps balance stomach acidity.
  • Chew on a few fennel seeds four times a day. Half the seeds should be baked and half raw.
  • Favor sweet, bitter, astringent, heavy, dry and cooling foods.
  • Reduce sour, pungent and salty foods.
  • Take Organic Rose Petal Spread, especially during hot summer weather (Pitta season).
  • Add Organic Pitta Tea and Organic Pitta Churna seasoning to your diet.
  • Drink a little cool milk, but not with meals.
  • Have an apple boiled with 2-3 cloves at breakfast.
  • Regular daily bowel movements are important. Psyllium seed husks or Herbal Cleanse can help.
  • Favor fresh foods. Avoid leftovers and alcohol.
  • Try to eat your main meal at midday.
  • Avoid hot temperatures and prolonged exposure to the sun.
  • Try to avoid stressful situations.
  • Don't overwork. Make sure you get enough rest and leisure time.

Hemorrhoids

Question:

I am curious to know the ayurvedic understanding of, and approach to curing stubborn anal fissures and hemorrhoids. I know that these afflictions are related to the modern, sedentary lifestyle and nutrition.

Answer:
In the ayurvedic text Sushruta Samhita, the treatment for fissures and hemorrhoids is discussed in great detail. You can manage this problem with the proper diet and lifestyle, but it's good to see a physician. As you mentioned, sitting for long periods is an etiological factor. You need to pacify Apana Vata and, if there is bleeding, Ranjaka Pitta. Here are some tips that will help:

Diet and lifestyle tips:

  • Take psyllium seed husks, 2 tablespoons in water before bed.
  • Eat nutritious foods with water-soluble, easy-to-digest fiber such as whole, juicy fruits, white pumpkin, carrots and cucumber.
  • Avoid hard fibers, such as hard, mature spinach, which can scratch the rectal area.
  • Add yellow mung dahl to the diet (available at Indian grocery stores).
  • Avoid spicy-hot and citrus foods.
  • Cook with coriander, and a little cumin and turmeric.
  • Take about a tablespoon of Organic Rose Petal Spread with bread at breakfast.
  • Don't skip meals.
  • A morning walk is a must.
  • Avoid continuous sitting. Take breaks and stretch.
  • Don't hold bowel movements or urine.

Disclaimer
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.