Wednesday, December 27, 2017

FARMACY: EASY DIGESTION

F A R M A C Y |  E A S Y   D I G E S T I O N
A  guide to gathering around the table & indulging with loved ones without digestive or mental woes, for the Holiday season & beyond . . .


Pre- and Probiotics & Digestives
Always opt for whole foods first as a source of pre- and probiotics. Prebiotics prime your digestive system for optimal uptake of probiotics since they cannot be digested. Natural sources of prebiotics include garlic, onions, plantains, asparagus, green bananas, jerusalem artichoke, chicory, dandelion, jicama, and apples. These are also high in fructoolligosaccharides (FOS), so they might cause gas or bloating in large quantities for those who already have sensitive digestion. For probiotics, opt for fermented vegetables such as these, sauerkraut, coconut yoghurt or kefir.

As for supplements, I recommend this probiotic since my favourite Prescript-Assist changed manufacturers & formula. The only other three supplements I recommend clients for digestion are MSM, L-Glutamine, and Digestive Enzymes. MSM is high in  the antioxidant mineral sulfur, which is used to produce glycosaminoglycans and is then used to coat structural connective tissues, repairing the gut lining. L-Glutamine also does this & I recommend this one on an empty stomach, especially after a workout for additional tissue repair. For digestive enzymes, I use these ones



Mindfulness
Prime yourself on how to approach your food and consequently your body mindfully with this article from the archives.



Energy Healing
Part of digestive woes is also caused by increased anxiety, especially around food. This can be inherent through disordered eating (and if so, please seek treatment here & read my series The Narrative, starting here) or guilt around indulgence. It is believed in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) & Energy Medicine that this depletes the energy of the Kidney meridian. I have an entire section on Energy Medicine in my upcoming book, which you can pre-order here or here! The kidney meridian filters the body's toxic energies, so it is not a surprise when it's depleted during times with the increased stress or rush of the seasons. 

When the meridian is stimulated through energy work or acupressure, it leads to a feeling of clarity & vitality in the body as these energy channels open up. A way to activate the energies of the kidney meridian is by applying pressure or massaging the Wellspring of Life (k1) point on the bottom of each foot. It relates to the water element and helps in making peace with the flow of life by providing a surge of life force, allowing us to be present in the busyness of the Holidays and face the New Year.

Another meridian of importance is the Spleen meridian, which controls the digestive system & regulated the movement of fluids. Deficient spleen energy results in fluid retention, which can manifest as bloating. As spleen energy also rules digestion, it also affects the absorption of nutrients. Inadequate uptake of nutrients or a malnourished diet nourishes neither the body nor the mind. 

As nutritional therapy, the spleen is comforted by sweet foods. This obviously does not mean processed sugar, which would further deplete spleen energy, but rather foods such as root vegetables. The spleen also is energised by warmer foods, so a cup of pumpkin soup with warming spices such as cinnamon & mineralising dash of pink salt is deeply restorative for the spleen.

To heal the energies of the spleen meridian, tap right below the breasts & the first rib bone. You can locate these points by placing your fingers on your thymus, moving them down to the breasts, then right below the first rib. Tap on these points for about 15 seconds to harmonise your body's rhythm, hormones, removal of toxins, and to combat chronic fatigue. 



Abhyanga
Abhyanga is a traditional Ayurvedic medicine practice that dates thousands of years & is touted to combat digestive woes by increasing circulation & promoting lymph drainage. Simply pick the oil that is appropriate for your constitution or  doshasesame for vata,  sunflower for pitta, and  coconut oil for kapha—gently warm it up, and massage it in upward strokes. I normally use sesame seed oil to reground my energy or reach for Jiva Apoha's  Amma after my travels to recirculate stagnant energy.  Here is a wonderful instructional video from the Ayurvedic leader Banyan Botanicals. Ayurvedically speaking, this is also a balancing activity for  not only physical transitions but that of the seasons.

"Your vital issues are created from nature's seasonal rhythms & provisions. By imbibing nature's foods, you are able to transport nature's essential nutrients to your cells, thus your mood, memory and overall health are directly affected by the biorhythms held within the tissues of your body. This is why we must remain attentive to the cyclical changes of our inner rhythms during each season and its transition into another” — Bri Maya Tiwari