In a previous blog post Wellness & Beauty in Ayurveda, we briefly touched upon the importance of a proper Ayurvedic diet according to your body-mind constitution or dosha. When we eat according to our bodies’ individual needs along with attention to the locality and seasonality of different foods, we ensure that our bodies are functioning in perfect harmony with nature.
This ensures ultimate physical functionality along with unparalleled beauty and radiance. However, in addition to paying heed to the nutritional content of the food we consume, Ayurveda also emphasises the importance of digestion. After all, if digestion is sub-optimal, then even the most nutritious food will not benefit us because of absence of nutrient absorption. Therefore, it is perfect digestion, and subsequent assimilation of nutrients into our bodies, that is truly the key ingredient for eternal beauty.
To better understand why proper digestion is so interrelated with beauty, it is important to understand the concept of Ama. Any food, no matter how nutritious and healthy, produces toxic wastes known as Ama if it has not been properly digested. Ama is responsible for causing various blockages throughout the body, thereby impairing all bodily functions. Needless to say, these blockages cause imbalances which result in problems in various areas including in our physical appearance. Ama directly causes disturbances and inflammation in the gut, which then result in appearance-related conditions such as acne, redness, bloating, weight gain, and if produced consistently in the long-term, even conditions such as hair loss, hormonal hair growth on the face, and so on.
Therefore, in order to ensure that the body’s outer appearance is not compromised in any way, we need to truly understand how to bring about optimal digestion. Ayurveda prescribes guidelines to ensure this, which are essential in today’s day and age where pollution, toxins and sedentary lifestyle are ever so prevalent.
One of the most basic steps to ensure proper digestion is to adhere to specific timings for the three meals of the day. These may vary slightly according to dosha, season, locality and status of imbalance, but broadly breakfast should be between 7-9AM, lunch should be around noon, and dinner should be between 6-8PM. More important than the specific timings is the fact that meals should be eaten at regular times every day. Further, meals should never be consumed when angry, anxious, depressed or exhausted; one must eat in a calm and happy state to ensure proper digestion and assimilation. There must not be any distractions during meal time, and one must relax and focus on the food alone. This could either mean to eat alone or in the company of those who allow you to feel relaxed. There should be at least 3-6 hours of a gap between meals, and any strenuous physical or mental activity should be avoided for at least two hours after eating.
Initially, these guidelines may strike us as overwhelming, for the present generation is used to drastically different eating habits. However, it is critical to remember the benefits of the Ayurvedic style of conscious and mindful eating. When these guidelines are followed and proper digestion is achieved, the nutrients from our food get assimilated into our bodies, causing a significant increase in overall health. This is inevitably reflected in our appearance, leading to clear skin, thick and healthy hair, strong nails, optimal weight and excellent posture.