The question - “Do we live to eat or eat to live?” is one of debate. But, the relation between eating and living is reciprocal; t hat of give-and-take. Though we all know that food is a basic need of human beings; it can also prove hazardous to human life. A humorous thought in this context is: ‘we li ve on half the amount of food we eat and our doctors live on the other half!’ This impli es that food ruins man as well as helping him survive. Food is the savior if digested properly and it is the destroyer if not digested properly. Indigestion is not a severe disease, but it may be responsible for the emergence of other, more severe diseases. As th e source of many diseases, it must be given serious thought. We shall start by going t hrough the structure of the digestive system.
The food we eat is not utilized in the same form as we take it in. Carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals a nd water are absorbed from the food we take and utilized in the metabolic process. The substances obtained from food undergo a chemical reaction, with the help of oxyge n, in order for the body to take energy from food. The process in which chemical ana lysis of the food and absorption of nutrients takes place is called digestion. This process is carried out in the digestive tract. The digestive tract is nothing but a thirty foot long unbroken pipe that starts from the mouth and ends at the anus. Various functi ons take place at various points of this tract. Ingestion of food from the mouth, diges tion in the stomach, absorption and assimilation in the small intestine, and excretion in the large intestine are the functions carried out in the various organs.
The outer cover of this food tract is whitish in co lor and a jelly-like fluid is secreted from it. This prevents any disturbance of other organs in the passage of food. The small intestine is made up of many folds, but t hese do not obstruct each other because of this cover. There is a central layer mad e up of muscles below the cover. It helps to push the food forward with a muscular move ment. The innermost layer is very soft like velvet. A jelly-like secretion in th is layer helps food to travel forward. Digestive juices are secreted at some sites. The bl ood vessels that absorb the nutrients in the food also reside here.
The mouth is the entrance of the digestive system. The teeth grind the different food items taken in by the mouth. Saliva is mixed a t this place and the digestion of starch starts at this point due to the element tyli n in saliva. The food then travels to the stomach via the throat.
The stomach is a muscular bag. Various digestive ju ices get mixed with the food while it is in the stomach and start the proce ss of digestion, that is, food is transformed into a state that can be absorbed into the blood. It then enters the small intestine, after three to four hours. The length of the small intestine is about 21 feet and the process of digestion is continued in the in itial part of this intestine. Its area measures around 10 square meters. The nutrients in the food are absorbed due to the folds in the intestine, and the waste is pushed for ward into the large intestine. Then, the liquid form of food is absorbed and residual so lid waste in the form of excreta is pushed ahead into the rectum and thrown out through the anus.
The other organs that contribute in the function of digestion are the salivary glands, liver, spleen, and pancreas. The journey of food from the throat to the anus takes place due to the expansion and contraction of muscles of the digestive system. The rate changes according to requirement, and is c ontrolled by the automatic nervous 78 system. The healthy functioning of these organs mea ns a healthy state of the body. The malfunctioning of these organs, however, is a d isorder. The main reason for their malfunctioning is nothing but an inappropriate diet . There is no chance of indigestion if the diet is appropriate. Hence, following dietar y rules is the primary requirement when treating indigestion. It cannot be cured witho ut dietary control. Often, fasting works wonderfully to cure indigestion. Fasting give s the digestive system the rest it needs. A proper diet after fasting is the subsequen tly important part of treatment.
If the food eaten is not digested, the result will be indigestion. This can happen when food is of low quality, or the person eats bey ond the capacity of their digestive system. The undigested food rots in the stomach or in the intestine, resulting in symptoms like sour belches, vomiting sensations, he aviness in the stomach or uneasiness. If this happens frequently, it creates adverse effects on the secretion of the digestive juices, resulting in permanent indigestio n. Many toxins are produced as a result of rotting food. These toxins are absorbed i nto the blood affecting other organs of the body. The consequence is headaches, weakness , and reduction in weight.
The main reason behind indigestion is an inappropri ate diet; a diet that is void of mineral salts, the use of refined substances, su bstances made from maida (fine wheaten flour), sugar, alcohol, indefinite timing o f meals, late dinners, frozen food, cold drinks, spicy and hot food. Additionally, indi gestion can result from mental and emotional stress, which can inhibit the proper prod uction of digestive juices.
Acidity, ulcers, constipation, and gastric disorder s are the byproduct of frequent indigestion. Yogic therapy for these disor ders is independent of this chapter, which shall discuss the treatment of indigestion on ly.
The twelve preparatory movements in the course of Yoga Pravesh exercise all muscles and joints. These move ments are performed very slowly and therefore benefit the digestive system as well.
Sun salutations contribute a chain of Yogasanas inclusive of Pranayama. The Sun is the Lord of the Manipura Chak ra, which is the chakra in control of digestion. Sun salutations, worshipping the sun, act on this chakra. Furthermore, asanas in the Sun salutation are perfo rmed with a regular speed, which regulates blood circulation to all muscles, throwin g away the toxins in the blood, and altogether improving the metabolic system.
Any Yogasana performed in the right way affect th e digestive system favorably. An effective, yet simple list of asanas include the names of- Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana, Dhanurasana, Sarvangasana, Halasana, Pashchimottanasana, Ardha Matsyendrasana, Trikonasana and Veerasana.
Agnisar Kriya improves the digestion process and kindles the digestive fire. Uddiyana Bandha and Kapalbhati are also beneficial in improving digestion. In addition, the cleansing process of Va man cleans the stomach and improves the quality and quantity of production of digestive juices.
Complete Shankha Prakshalana is the process of clea ning the 79 entire digestive tract. This not only cleans the im purities in the tract but also helps digest food properly by providing digestive juices in the appropriate amount in the stomach, and allowing proper absorption to take pla ce. After performing complete Shankha Prakshalana once, the patient can perform L aghu Shankha Prakshalana as per his requirement. With this practice he can get rid of all his digestive problems.
Deep breathing and rapid breathing such as Naadis hodhan Pranayama and Bhasrika Pranayama are useful in improving dige stion.
Store water in a copper vessel and drink in the mo rning before brushing teeth.
A half teaspoon of myrobalan (Hirda) powder + one glass of hot water twice a day.
Triphala powder (three myrobalans - Hirda, Behda a nd Aavalkathi) 1 teaspoon + 1 glass of lukewarm water.
Soak 50 gm dried black grapes in 1 glass of water. Crush the black grapes with your hand in the morning, eat them, and drink the w ater in which they were soaked.
Eat 4-5 garlic buds with betel leaf.
The prime factor to improve or destroy the digestiv e system is diet. Indigestion is the product of an improper diet. The first and foremost way to improve disorder of the digestive system is fasting- comple te restriction of food intake. This gives rest and purifies the body.
When food is taken again, some dietary rules should be observed. Non- vegetarian food must be totally banned. Vegetarian food must be fresh; having been subject to minimum reactions. Refrigerated or tinne d food is not suitable for proper digestion. The diet must include leafy vegetables, fruit vegetables, fruits, etc. It must contain all six flavors- sweet, sour, salt, pungent , bitter and astringent.
Food should be taken twice a day and the timings mu st be fixed. The quantity should be half the stomach solid food, one-fourth l iquid food. Dinner should be light to digest and taken at the time of sunset. Late din ners should be avoided. The atmosphere and the mind should be calm and peaceful before consuming food. If the mind or body is stressed, perform Shavasana for 5-1 0 minutes before having meals.
Regular practice of Yoga definitely improves digest ion, and also brings about mental control. The patient can thus avoid spoiling his digestion.
(Indigestion & Constipation)
Sun Salutations 32 rounds in 8 minutes
Asaas: Bhujangasana ( 1 min.) – Shalabhasana ( 3 Ro unds ) – Dhanurasana ( 30 sec.) Makarasana ( 2 Min.) – Pavanmuktasana ( 2 min.) - U ttanpad Chakrasana 3 rounds – Sarwangasana (3 minutes) – Halasana (1min. ) Matsyasana ! minute) Ardhamatsyendrasana ( 2 minutes on each side) Paschimottasana ( 1 minute) – Akarna Dhanurasana ( 1 minute on wach side) Ushtrasana (2 minutes) – Udarsanchalan ( 3 rounds) – Trikonasana (1 minute on each side) – Veerasana (1 minute on each side) - Sh avasana (when needed)
Cleansing Practices: Agnisar 100 strokes total in 3 to 4 rounds Uddiyan Bandh 5 rounds ( each round 30 seconds) Kapalbhati 5 rounds ( 120 strokes per round) Vaman Dhouti ( Once a week ) – Laghoo Shankhaprakas hlana (once a week ) – Full shankhaprakshalana ( Once a Y ear)
Pranayama: Suryabhedan Pranayama with kumbhak for 1 0 minuits Bhastrika Pranayama with kumbhak for 10 minuits.
Asanas: Vipareetkarni, Vakrasana, Uttanpadasana, Pa wavanmuktasana, Ardhpaschimottanasana, Sulabh Ushtrasana. Garudasan a, Parivart Trikonasana, Patangasana.
Pranayama: Anulom Viloma with or without kumbhak, R ight nostrill breathing
Cleansing Practices: Neti – Dand Dhouti – Vastra Dh outi – Nauli ( all types)
Walking for 60 minutes
Suitable: Normal food with less fats & carbohydrates but with high fiber. Best food is fruits ( except banana, mango & grapes ) & vegetables
Avoid: Nonveg food, Milk & milk products ( Skimmed milk can be taken), Rice, Oily & Spicy food, refined foods, Fast Food, Preser ved Food.
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