Burping, bloating, feeling queasy—these are the telltale signs of occasional indigestion, or upset stomach. Some of the common culprits include eating on the fly and combining incompatible foods, but your emotions and lifestyle habits can have an impact, too. In Ayurveda, being mindful of your diet is the first step towards avoiding indigestion in the first place. And in a pinch, you can use traditional herbs and spices to help ease discomfort.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the signs and causes of occasional indigestion, along with some simple strategies for easing it naturally.
Signs of indigestion
If that big plate of onion rings didn’t agree with you, your body will generally let you know! Some of the common signs of occasional indigestion include:
- Feeling queasy or a bit nauseous from time to time
- Feelings of fullness and discomfort in your stomach
- Loss of appetite
- Occasional bloating and gas
- Elimination issues (either too much or too little)
Common causes of occasional indigestion
Just about everyone experiences the odd bout of stomach upset—especially after eating a big meal or during times of stress. From the perspective of Ayurveda, some of the more common causes of indigestion include:
- Eating too much at one time
- Eating on the go, or while standing or driving
- Snacking between meals, or on a full stomach
- Drinking cold, carbonated, caffeinated, or alcoholic beverages with meals
- Emotional eating
- Eating incompatible foods—such as sour foods with dairy (bananas and milk)
- Eating a big meal late at night
We all eat a little too much sometimes, or find ourselves snacking mindlessly when stressed. But if you can avoid doing these things most of the time, you’ll be doing your digestion a big favor.
Indigestion and the Ayurvedic doshas
When you overeat (or consume something that doesn’t agree with you), it can cause a temporary disturbance in your doshas—the elemental energies that govern different facets of your body’s functioning. In Ayurveda, the three doshas are:
- Vata (air/ether): governs all processes of movement in your body, including elimination, breathing, and blood flow.
- Pitta (fire/water): governs all things heat-related and all metabolic processes in your body—especially digestion.
Kapha (earth/water): governs all things structural, including your bones, tissues, and muscle.
When one or more of your doshas are imbalanced, they can hamper your agni (digestive fire), which in turn can lead to indigestion.
But when your doshas are balanced, your digestive fire is stronger and you’re less likely to experience indigestion down the road. This, in turn, has a positive ripple effect on just about all the systems in your body, from your metabolism to your immunity and emotional well being. This is why balancing your doshas and strengthening your digestion are so important in Ayurveda.
Managing occasional indigestion naturally with Ayurveda: 5 tips
Ayurveda offers a wealth of easy, natural strategies for both avoiding and easing occasional indigestion. Here are some simple things you can do to boost your digestion naturally:
1. Eat in a calm, settled environment
This might seem like a simple thing, but you might be surprised at how big a difference it can make. These days, our lives are filled with distractions. We eat while driving, texting, watching TV, or discussing business, and then wonder why we feel queasy later! If you eat while engaging your mind and emotions on other tasks, it pulls energy away from your digestive fire, which can lead to discomfort down the line. It can also cause a disturbance in Vata dosha, the mind-body energy associated with air and space.
To optimize your digestive power and keep Vata balanced, try to eat in a quiet, settled place free of distractions. Step away from your desk, put your phone on silent, turn off your TV, and give your full attention to the meal in front of you. If you’re eating with companions, try to keep the conversation emotionally uplifting, or at least neutral.
2. Start your meals with a ginger pickle
Give your digestion an extra boost by eating a few bites of Ayurvedic ginger pickle before meals! Ginger is a heating spice that helps to stimulate digestive juices.
How to make it:
Grate a small amount of fresh ginger and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Allow to sit for a few minutes. Eat a few bites of ginger pickle before each meal.
You can also try taking Herbal Di-Gest before meals. This potent formula is a blend of 10 Ayurvedic herbs and spices that support healthy digestion, assimilation, and elimination. If you’ve ever felt dull, bloated, gassy, or heavy after meals, this formula can be very beneficial.
3. Avoid Pitta-aggravating foods
If you struggle with occasional heartburn or acid stomach, you may have an imbalance in Pitta dosha—the mind-body element associated with fire and water. An overabundance of Pitta in the digestive tract can lead to an increase in acidity. To bring Pitta back into balance, try to avoid foods that are hot, spicy, or sour, such as vinegar, tomatoes, citrus fruits, fried foods, alcohol, chili peppers, caffeinated beverages and alcohol. Instead, favor foods that are naturally cooling and sweet, such as basmati rice, dairy, cucumbers, squash, and sweet potatoes. Coconut water is an excellent beverage of choice for Pitta imbalances. Sweet and juicy fruits like mangoes are also beneficial. For a little extra help, try Aci-Balance, a powerful blend of traditional Ayurvedic herbs that offer fast-acting comfort while also addressing deeper digestion imbalances. Learn more about how to minimize occasional acid indigestion.
4. Take a walk after meals
Walking is one of the best tonics for your entire mind and body! Taking a stroll stimulates your digestion and metabolism and boosts your mood. After meals (especially heavy ones!) go for an easy, comfortable walk around the block to help your body with digestion and assimilation. Don’t hurry. Enjoy your surroundings and breathe comfortably and easily.
Yoga asanas are another great way to ease digestive discomfort—though you should wait at least 2 hours after you eat.
5. Do a daily digestive detox
You don’t need to go to a spa or do a complicated cleanse to give yourself a simple digestion reset. Take a few tablets of Organic Triphala Rose at night to keep things moving and promote better assimilation and digestion throughout the day. In Sanskrit, the word triphala literally means “three fruits.” This traditional formula consists of three powerful Ayurvedic fruits (haritaki, bibhitaki, and amalaki) that have a mild laxative effect while also toning the entire digestive system. We’ve added cooling rose petals for extra synergy. Read more about the benefits of triphala.
Ultimately, most of the Ayurvedic strategies for avoiding indigestion involve slowing down, checking in with yourself, and being a bit more in tune with your body. It all boils down to making mindful food choices, minimizing distractions while eating, and taking note of how you feel after you eat. The more in tune you are with your digestion, the better you’ll feel throughout the day.
For more helpful tips on boosting your digestion naturally, check out our Digestion Wellness Hub.