Total Gut Restoration Steps With Yoga, Diet & Herbs
IntroductionGut is often used as a slang conveying a meaning similar to ‘courage’ and ‘capacity’. Gut is actually the nickname for our digestive system; that’s why another popular use meaning ‘inner’ makes more sense, for example, when we say things like “I have a gut feeling about this”. Our ‘gut’ or the digestive system is responsible for our health even while it may not seem to be. We often think of the heart, the lungs and the brain as the most (or the only) important organs of our body, while it is the digestive system that provides energy to the whole body for all functions including those performed by the heart, the lungs and the brain.
Our Gut Or The Human GIT
GIT or the human gastrointestinal tract is a long tube that starts as the mouth and ends at the anus. It constitutes the oral cavity, the esophagus or the food pipe, the stomach, the small intestine, the large intestine, the rectum and the anus. The liver and the pancreas are supporting organs secreting important juices and hormones. Normally the GIT contains mucus and healthy bacteria in its different sections.
When we were younger our guts were clean and could process food at such a fast rate that we required feeding every two hours and we were energetic all the time. But with time, as we grow up, we start putting such things into our stomachs that harm not only the stomach or the digestive system but the whole body. This process of spoiling our guts is so slow that we do not realize what we are doing. We have made our guts sick over the last few years.
How We Have Made Our Guts Sick
Our GIT isn’t just affected by the foods we eat but also our lifestyle, sleep-wake, the kind of job we do, mental state, etc. Both diet and lifestyle have changed so much during the last 100 years. Earlier, more people were working in small and medium factories, farms and households. There were less luxuries, gadgets and means of transport. But with the advancement of technology we have a gadget or a device for everything, and we do not walk to the office, we do not rear our cattle, we do not grow or harvest our food. Meaning thereby, the physical activity of our lives has reduced greatly. Also, the kinds of foods we eat are done through many kinds of packing, processing, and preservation.
All these factors have made gut disorders more common and prevalent and the general health and immunity of humans weaker. This is why diseases like IBS, constipation, ulcerative colitis, etc. are now experienced by more people all over the world.
Signs of A Sick Gut
Our body cannot talk but it gives us various signals for every condition, in health as well as in disease. The gut also tries to communicate to us about its health especially when it is not well. The following signs should not be ignored, especially when any of these is prolonged or recurring.
- Schedule of bowel movements: the frequency of bowel movements should generally be regular. A healthy person should be able to empty his bowels at least twice in three days.
- Skin is an indicator: if acne appears on the body and does not go away, it means that your gut is not clean.
- Extremely rotten farts even after bowel elimination: small movement of gas buildup just before the bowels are emptied can be considered normal. But if the gas passed is extremely smelly and causes pain, it is a signal that diet needs to be corrected or the intestines are not functioning properly.
- Oral health and bad breath: if the mouth smells bad even if proper oral hygiene is taken care of, it means that the problem lies in the digestive system, not the mouth.
- You don’t feel hungry: proper appetite is characteristic of a properly functioning digestive system. If you don’t feel hungry completely during the day, it means that your gut is not functioning well.
- You feel bloated for no reason: bloating is caused by excess gas build up in the intestines. Small amounts of gas that can be passed out easily can still be considered normal but bloating that doesn’t go away for a day signals towards a sick gut.
- You are losing weight but not fat from the abdomen: if you are able to lose fat from the rest of the body but not from the abdominal region then it means that there is excess visceral fat developed in between your abdominal organs. It is harmful for the whole body, especially the heart.
How To Cleanse The Gut
A. Dietary Cleanse:
Where poor dietary choices can spoil the gut, the opposite is also possible. Here are some very effective foods that have a cleansing effect on the gut:
- Isabgol : The husk of psyllium florets forms a jelly-like bulk when added to water or milk or yogurt and is used to add volume to bowels which can then be removed with ease.
- Natural Vinegars : Vinegars naturally fermented from apple, berries, sugarcane etc. are excellent cleansers for the GIT since they ease digestion and clean the intestines. They should be consumed in small quantities with salads and stir-frys.
- Probiotic yogurts : Yogurts made with more than one kind of bacterium promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestines and cleans them. They should be consumed at times with meals.
- Turmeric : Turmeric is anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. It balances natural flora of the gut and also heals any ulcers that might be developing there. It should be added to food in small amounts.
- Watermelon : Watermelon has the property of loosening stuck stool from the inner walls of the intestines. It should be eaten when it is in season.
- Green Smoothie : A smoothie made with green leafy vegetables and fruit juices adds volume and essential electrolytes to the bowels. It should be consumed once in a while.
B. Yogic Cleanse:
This cleanse is instant, a little extreme and a lot more effective, and requires you to consult a yoga therapist first. Yoga has a special set of practices to clean the gut which is not commonly taught since it is mentioned in the ancient yogic texts that these practices should only be disclosed personally to the deserving and the needy. Special care regarding diet and routine is required after performing the kriyas.
- Dhauti Kriya : Varisara Dhauti, Vastra Dhauti, Ghrut Dhauti, Vatsaara Dhauti, Agnisara Dhauti, Vamana etc. are various techniques of cleansing the whole or parts of gastrointestinal tract with various objects such as vacuum, water, cloth, ghee, oil, etc. This is extremely beneficial in conditions that require emergency care.
- Vasti Kriya : vasti is an ancient practice that has inspired the contemporary rectal cleansing technique ‘enema’. Vasti is mentioned in ancient yogic as well as ayurvedic texts as an extremely efficient cleansing practice of the colon. It is done using vacuum or freshwater.
How To Preserve Gut Health
- Hydrate yourself: water is essential for proper metabolism.
- Eat a balanced diet: to avoid nutritional deficiencies.
- Do not stress: stress badly affects bowel movements.
- Get enough sleep: sleep is essential for proper digestion and metabolism.
- Quit smoking: smoking harms the whole body.
- Limit alcohol consumption: alcohol reduces metabolism.
- Eat fermented and probiotic food: they are good for the gut’s natural bacteria.
- Be physically active: so that digestion is proper and there is no excess fat storage.
- Maintain a healthy body mass: it shall be good in the long run.
- Practice yoga: to maintain peace and health of the mind and the body.