Dr Swami Shankardev Saraswati is a western medical doctor, yoga therapist, author and teacher. He integrates western mind-body medicine and psychotherapy with eastern methods of mind-body development and awakening consciousness. He has written several books among them "The Practices of Yoga for the Digestive System". It is a recommended book for anyone seeking to optimize their digestive system.
Since many disorders are connected directly or indirectly with the malfunction of the digestive system, these guidelines on healthy digestion are a great resource for all.
Here are a few basic suggestions which can help you and your family on the road to good health:
1. Buy fresh (if possible organic) foods and store at cool (not ice cold) temperature. Fruits and vegetables in season are best suited to the needs of the body.
2. When buying non organic fruits and vegetables, rinse all the chemical sprays off the surface. Don’t peel as many nutrients are stored in the outer skin.
3. Steaming or baking is better than frying or boiling. In the ashram vegetables are very shortly fried in a little vegetable oil, then some water is added and they are steamed until soft. This gives them a good flavor and makes them easy to digest.
4. If you eat meat, don’t fry it. Remove all fat before cooking in order to reduce the amount of saturated fatty acids; this is better for the heart and blood vessels.
5. Avoid large amounts of fat, oil or ghee (clarified butter).
6. Use salt sparingly, more in summer and less in winter. Try to season your foods with herbs, lemon juice or natural soya sauce.
7. Do not overcook.
8. Prepare food just before serving in order to maintain maximum prana (life force, energy) and nutrition.
9. Cook with care in order to increase prana. Make meals attractive and tasty to stimulate the appetite and digestive enzymes.
10. Keep meals simple. Remember, all the different foods you put on your plate will mix in your stomach.
11. Take meals at regular intervals
12. Do not eat in between meals.
13. Bathe before meals or not until half an hour after meals, as bathing diverts the blood from the stomach and intestines to the skin.
14. When eating always take small mouthfuls. Chew each mouthful carefully and chew fried foods a little longer.
15. Eliminate problems from your mind during the meal. Do not eat food when you are tense or angry. Calmness is conducive to good digestion.
16. Take food with the attitude that it is health-giving, the gift of nature.
17. Only take as much as you need; never overburden the digestive system.
The body needs a little food and little fasting if it is to grow in a balanced way just like a plant will die if it is watered too much and does not get enough sun.
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