Our mental and emotional constructs affect how we digest food.
Our digestive issues reflect how we react under stress.
According to Ayurveda, there are three general patterns of digestion: variable, low and high.
Digestion is variable when the nervous system is anxious and hyperactive under stress. An hyperactive nervous system is fear based. People who are always on high alert are more likely to have a variable digestion.
And they’ll experience digestive issues like gas, bloating and constipation.
Digestion is low when the nervous system is lethargic under stress. A lethargic nervous system is sadness based. People who are lethargic are more likely to have a low digestion.
And they’ll experience digestive issues like heaviness and fatigue after eating.
Finally, digestion is high when the nervous system is intense under stress. An intense nervous system is anger based. People who are intense are more likely to have a high digestion.
And they’ll have digestive issues like heartburn, burning digestion and lose stools.
Not everyone has the same kind of digestive issues!
In other words, when a person tends to become anxious under stress, we say that this person has a Vata nature. And they’ll more likely have the kind of digestive issues related to a variable digestion.
When a person tends to become intense and critical under stress, we say that this person has a Pitta nature. They’ll more likely have the digestive issues related to a high digestion.
Finally when a person tends to become depressed under stress, we say that this person has a Kapha nature. They’ll more likely have digestive issues related to a low digestion.
For lasting health, we need a mind and body approach
The gut and the brain are in constant communication. In fact,
Recent research has demonstrated that stimulation of the vagus nerve, which connects the gut and the brain, can effectively treat nonresponsive chronic depression. This suggests that depression could be caused or exacerbated, at least in some cases, by a sluggish or dysfunctional gut-brain communication system.” Dr. kulreet Chaudhary, M.D.
When we calm the mind, we can calm the body, but we can’t calm the mind without calming the body.
In her book, the Prime, Dr. Chaudhary neurologist and Ayurvedic practitioner demonstrates what Ayurveda has been saying for thousands of years! You can read more about it here.
That’s why in Ayurveda we work with diet and lifestyle to improve digestion. You can learn more about how Ayurveda improves digestion with diet here.
Once we stabilize our digestion, we work with increasing the level of energy or prana. And once we stabilize our energy level, and we sleep well and feel vibrant, we can work with the mind, and alter the way we perceive the world.
95% of serotonin supply is found in the gut and as much dopamine as in the brain.
Serotonin in general stabilizes the mind and the emotions. While dopamine has been called the “motivation molecule.”
A balanced digestion, lifestyle and a consistent meditation practice can increase levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain and the gut.
Furthermore, you resolve your digestive issues by letting go of fear, attachment and anger.
At a deep and sometimes unconscious level, people of Vata nature don’t feel safe in the world. Therefore, in order to balance this default mechanism, they want to cultivate Trust. They need to meditate, and also incorporate regular routines and rituals to create a sense of safety and security.
In the same way, at a deep level, people of Pitta nature are angry with the world. Therefore, they need to cultivate Compassion for themselves as well as others. They need to practice empathy and self-responsibility.
Finally, people of Kapha nature feel sad about the world. They struggle with change and loss. Therefore, they need to cultivate Inner Peace. They need to break their lethargy, move, dance, and chant!