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Q: I suffer from gas and irregular bowel movements — I am petite. What could this be caused by?

Agni Aunt, Dr Shijoe Mathew answers:

Digestive issues can be quite uncomfortable and sometimes painful, especially with severe gas and constipation. In Ayurveda these are considered as a sign of Vata imbalance together with a weak Agni or digestive fire. The result of having a weak digestive fire is not just these discomforts, it will result in malabsorption issues like constant loss of weight/inability to gain weight, weak bones, painful joints, anemia, dizziness, cold extremities and weak circulation.

The diet recommended in this instance focuses on three factors:

  1. Well cooked, easy to digest dietary fibre-rich food

  2. Warming and digestive spices to be used in cooking

  3. Intake of digestive teas

To help with Vata, Ayurveda recommends warm porridge or poached fruits with cinnamon and star anise, warm lentil soups and roasted root vegetables to be consumed regularly. Spices like asafoetida, ginger, garlic, black pepper, nutmeg and anise are the best to use in cooking to ignite the Agni. Herbal teas prepared from ginger, ajwain and cumin are also helpful. Avoid any food that suppresses the digestion like refined sugars and refined flour. Herbs like Triphala (three myrobalans) also help ignite the digestive fire and support regular evacuation.

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Q: I’ve been following an Ayurvedic diet/lifestyle for over 12 months now, I still have issues with bloating and constipation. What are your best recommendations for a “Vata” to support their digestive difficulties?

Agni Aunt, Charlotte Bech answers:

Wonderful that you are so kind to your physiology that you are following an Ayurvedic lifestyle and diet. In order to reduce bloating and constipation, you can benefit from the following:

  • Lie down after every meal on your LEFT side for 10-20 minutes.

  • As a snack in the morning, one hour before breakfast take this thin lassi:

  • One glass of lukewarm water with 1 tbsp of bio live yoghurt, 1 tsp of mixed curry powder, 1 tbsp of coconut sugar.

  • Avoid raw food, as well as meat, poultry and fish.

  • Do not mix any dairy products with other meals or other foods.

  • Take boiled raisins, prunes and figs.

  • Around 3 PM: take 200 ml of boiled warm milk (organic, unhomogenised, full-fat) with 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cardamom, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1 tbsp coconut sugar.