Gluten intolerance has come increasingly to the forefront of health concerns in our western society over the last decade.
Many people experience symptoms associated with Gluten Intolerance such as brain fog, irritability, bad breath, brittle nails, acne, eczema, dizziness, fluctuations in weight, anemia, migraines, sinus pressure, indigestion, bloating …. the list goes on and on. In this article I want to talk a little about Ayurveda and Gluten Intolerance.
Gluten can be found in food items you may not expect, such as soy-sauce, soup- and sauce-mixes, processed foods. Gluten can hide behind names like “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” or “modified corn starch” and may not be easily recognized.
A person who has Celiac disease will be familiar with the long list of items to avoid, whereas a person who has a sensitivity that is less severe in symptoms, or someone who chooses to omit gluten from their diet for other reasons, may be less versed in the gluten vocabulary.
Ayurveda and Gluten Intolerance
In Ayurveda dietary sensitivities are often seen and interpreted as a lack of Agni, or digestive fire. Agni is the fire in our belly and tissues that is required to burn incoming food and use the nutrition in the food to nourish the tissues of the body.
When our Agni is weak, the filtering and distribution of nutrients may be impaired and in severe or chronic cases can lead to malnutrition, digestive disorders, food sensitivities, and, you guessed it, conditions like gluten intolerance.
When our Agni is weak, we are likely to accumulate Ama, another Ayurvedic word, which means toxins. Ama is toxic waste in our colon that doesn’t get eliminated, and turns into sludge that slows down our digestion, impairs our nutrient intake and disables proper elimination.
Ama is a sticky waste product in our intestines that can make us gain weight because food doesn’t get digested properly, and in severe cases Ama can cause health problems.
Gluten is heavy, sticky, dull and oily in nature. In Ayurveda gluten intolerance is treated as a combination of Ama and weak Agni.
Our first line approach in any case is to remove the stressor, the factor that makes us sick and causes symptoms. In the case of gluten intolerance we remove glutenous foods from our diet to feel better.
This usually works and gives relieve, but it doesn’t take care of the root of the problem:
1. Our gummed up digestive tract that causes malabsorption and over sensitivity to certain food items.
2. Weak Agni, our digestive capacity, that is at the root of our sensitivities.
Both go hand in hand.
The logical approach is to avoid the stressors, in this case glutenous foods, but also to decrease Ama and increase Agni.
Here are just some of the things you can do to strengthen Agni and prevent the build up of Ama in your system:
- Lighten your diet for a few days. Choose fresh vegetables and fruit, avoid dairy, meat, and bread products. Avoid oils, nuts and seeds.
- Drink plenty of warm water, you can add lemon for taste. Warm water will help hydrate you and flush toxins from your system.
- Increase Turmeric, Pepper, and Ginger in your diet. These herbs will help kindle the digestive fire and help remove Ama.
- Don’t overeat and keep your meal times regular.
- A tea made of Cumin, Coriander, Fennel and Turmeric will help increase digestive fire and decrease toxins.
If you suffer from severe digestive issues you may consider an Ayurvedic cleanse.
Whether you live a gluten free lifestyle by choice or by necessity, the variety of gluten free products on the market grows every day.
Take a trip to your local market or health food store and browse the gluten free product isle. Don’t forget to pick up some beautiful produce and some fresh ginger on the way to lighten your digestive load and help your body to a fighting chance against toxins and sensitivities.
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