Over 2000 years ago, Hippocrates the father of modern medicine stated that “all disease begins in the gut.” Yes that’s right the gut, not in the bowel where your bowel cancer is, not on your face where you eczema is, not in your lungs, prostate or brain… but in the gut.
People around the globe are finally taking notice of Hippocrates and his wisdom, plus the wise teachings from ancient traditions such as Ayurveda. They are learning to heal and prevent disease rather than ingesting synthetic drugs which relieve ailments with a symptomatic band aid and deposit further toxins into our already overloaded systems.
Studying Ayurveda for me, has opened the door to many old techniques which when included in your daily routine can support a deep natural healing from within, both physically and emotionally. Ayurveda is for everyone, and can be incorporated into your life offering a beautiful balance between Ancient and Western medicine. Like me, many Ayurvedic practitioners value modern medicine and the benefits it offers us.
Asthma, hay fever, allergies, skin, bowel or digestive problems, daily medication… these are just a few of the common health issues many Aussies are dealing with every day and are now well accepted conditions people live with. Many accept it and assume it is their fate to be unwell and rely on synthetic medications to stay ‘well-er’. They are accepting of a lifetime of treating symptoms rather than sussing out the root cause of the issue.
The human body does not want to be unwell and is typically not genetically programmed to be unwell. Everyone has the right to vibrant health and vitality. Generally speaking everyone’s body has the capability to rejuvenate itself completely if the mind has to knowledge and willpower to do so.
It has been suggested that chronic metabolic diseases do in fact begin in the gut largely due to diet induced inflammatory triggers which are simply the body’s immune response to invaders, toxins and damaged cells. Without going to deep into chronic inflammation and the topic of endotoxins (as I am definitely no expert) let’s just say that these things can drive metabolic diseases.
The most amazing thing about knowing we can heal from the gut is the fact that if we are armed with the right information, we can start the healing process from our very own kitchen. ‘Food Matters’ suggest that through 12 steps you can achieve complete wellness. Several of these steps include: education, detoxing, hydrating, oxygenating and the reduction of stress.
This is where one of my favourites, Ayurvedic fasting enters – it’s the perfect tool for detoxing the body to kick start the process of healing. Ayurvedic intermittent fasting is an easy, effective and amazingly worthwhile thing to do to heal and prevent disease in the body.
The word “fast” often brings up feelings of dread for some people, when in actual fact it need not. Fasting does not mean going without, it means limiting the intake of a variety of foods so your body can rest and your mind can settle.
Think about what you do if you have the flu or are exhausted, you rest so your body can recover. When you sprain your ankle, you rest it so it can heal. If your digestive system and bowels are blocked or sluggish, it makes sense that we need to rest these also to enable the body to rebuild, reboot and refresh. Fasting reduces toxins and supports a strong digestive fire.
Take a look at our typical eating patterns; We eat when we are stressed, we eat when working on our lap tops, we overeat, we eat at irregular times, making bad food combinations and choices. As a result we become imbalanced and our digestive fire (agni) ceases to function as needed.
Eating processed foods, under-cooked or over-cooked foods all leads to undigested food waste or toxins (ama). Ayurveda teaches that ama accumulates in our digestive tract and can eventually overflow into your channels and tissues. Imbalanced agni and accumulating an overflow of ama is considered the root physical cause of all disease in Ayurveda. Intermittent fasting is the perfect way to support your digestive system, reignite your metabolic fire and reduce the build-up of ama in your system.
Fasting essentially frees up energy so healing can begin. If your body is putting all of its resources into breaking down the heavy processed meal you have just consumed… how is it going to have the energy and essential nutrients to commence healing the cause of symptoms appearing on the body?
This ritual is not new and will certainly not cause damage to your body. Our bodies are actually designed to go for days without eating. We can live for months on a liquid diet, and seventy plus days without any food, or you can literally kill yourself by overeating.
With deep cleansing and stillness, you also give trapped emotions the time and space to start resurfacing. Emotions stored deep within your cells can be released and with this comes connection to self, connection to self brings an understanding that all you need is within you… so don’t cave into your cravings during a fast – let’s be honest, we all know that a chocolate bar is not going to help you find inner happiness, it will only feed the dis-ease going on inside your gut!
When you are connected to self you start to realise your purpose and understand that life does not need to be a constant battle. You begin to let the small stuff go and deal with the big stuff more gracefully. With this grace life begins to effortlessly unfold and abundance follows.
- rest the digestive system
- allow for cleansing and detoxification of the gut and body
- create a break in eating patterns
- promote greater mental clarity
- cleanse and heal trapped emotional patterns
- lead to a feeling of physical lightness, increasing energy level
- promote inner stillness and enhance your spiritual connection
Tips on how to get started
I chose to fast one day each week to rest and reignite my digestive fire, though you may like to consider a weekend detox or a more in depth 7 day plan depending on what you feel your body needs. Regular and seasonal detoxing or fasting is really a great practice to consider. Ive been incorporating this practice in my world for about 3 months now and it honestly makes you feel amazing for the week ahead – light, clear and happy!
When fasting each week I typically go between the Ayurvedic liquid diet on my fast day or the ancient practice of fasting on kitchari which is an Ayurvedic mix of mung beans and rice. Kitchari is considered easy to digest and said to purify digestion and cleanse the body of toxins. The liquid cleanse basically entails the preparation of a cleansing vegetarian soup which you eat for 2-3 meals along with some herbal tea. During this period of fasting the body receives a limited diversity of food and therefore needs to produce a limited number of digestive enzymes, hence allowing for greater healing.
It is also important to note that you should not jump straight back into a diet of heavy processed foods the day following your fast, take it slow and introduce some soaked oats, quinoa or a chia pudding for breakfast. Build your digestive fire back up slowly and try to take in most of your nutrients in the middle of the day when your digestive fire is high.
If you chose to do a fast day each week, make sure you do your research and feel comfortable with your plan – no one knows your body better than you do. Chose a day that you are unlikely to be hitting the gym or socialising, make it easy to be successful. Note how you feel after your day of fasting, I am positive you will automatically start reaching for lighter healthier options throughout the rest of your week.
If your current diet is highly processed and you have the some of the above mentioned conditions, know that as with any detox process you may initially start to feel quiet sick and a range of emotions may begin to surface. This is the body commencing the physical and emotional detoxification process, so please seek the support of loved ones during this process and be kind to yourself. If you use essential oils select some oils to support your moods and symptoms, plus make sure you stay hydrated. After fasting you should even consider essential oils to support your immune health naturally (think oregano, lemon and tea tree essential oils).
Feel free to email me for ideas or some great recipes to prepare for the rest of your week to ensure you are eating right for your constitution. Most of all know that this ancient tradition can support your mind and body in so many ways. Not only can it support you in purifying your body, it can change the relationship you have with food, kick disease in the butt and deliver you a whole lot of inner bliss!
NOTE: If you are underweight or suffering from depletion of any kind it is far better to have a light diet day rather than a liquid diet day. The above article is based on personal beliefs/practices and it is suggested you conduct your own research or seek professional medical advice before starting a detox program if you have any physical and emotional concerns.
References: Eat Less Live Long. Jason Shon Bennett. http://www.allaboutfasting.com. Nadia Marshall: Nova Magazine, Published in Jan 2015. Food Matters Live Tour Notes 2016. Image: http://www.savvytokyo.com