Toxins are created by old food but not solely food. As with all things in Ayurveda, emotions, stressors, lifestyle and environment (all connected) also play a huge role in how we digest. Digestion is food, yes. But digestion also includes all information we absorb with the five senses, taste being only one of them. When doshas are imbalanced due to lifestyle, diet, negative emotions, etc., agni’s function becomes weakened or disturbed and it leaves undigested food behind.
This undigested food turns into ama (AH-muh), which is a toxic, sticky, cloudy and smelly substance that can spread from the gastrointestinal tract to other parts of the body. From there it can lodge itself into crevices causing clogs in channels, blood vessels and cell membranes. Yum!
It sounds complicated and difficult to get ama, but it’s kind of easy if we’re not paying attention. How many times have we eaten on the go, while working, during an intense conversation, or while nervous? How many times have we gone back for seconds even though we were full? How often have we had an ice cold fizzy beverage with our meal? All of these eating practices can cause ama.
• Cold and goopy or raw foods (yogurt falls into this category)
• Eating before previous food is digested
• Eating when not hungry
• Ignoring indigestion (bloating, constipation, heartburn)
and eating anyway
• Uncooked or undercooked food
• Sleeping after meals (wait 3 hours after eating before hitting the sack)
• Exercising after meals (wait at least 2 hours)
• Drinking a lot of water during or immediately after meals
• Ice cold drinks or carbonated drinks with meals
• Emotional unrest including; stress, anxiety, grief, fear, especially while eating
• Multitasking and eating
• Don’t eat. Skip meals until you are hungry.
• Drink warm water (lime is good for vata) first thing in the morning
• Sip ginger tea or,
• Cumin, coriander and fennel tea. Put 1 teaspoon of each seed in a teapot and boil for 10 minutes. Strain and drink warm.
• Eat light, warm, spicy, liquid foods like soups
• Use digesting spices like ginger and black pepper
• Do an at-home kitchari cleanse
• See an Ayurvedic practitioner for guidance
The best thing we can do when our tongue is white is, drink hot water that has been boiled fresh and then cooled enough to sip. We have to let our body catch up to the food we put in it and the only way it can do that is if we don’t give it any more food. I don’t mean a crazy fast for days. I mean sipping ginger (or herbal, but ginger is best because it increases digestive fire) tea for a few hours to let agni catch up.
Hope this sheds some light on how we can get toxins and how we can move them right along! Keep bringing Ayurveda to life!