keeping your digestive fire lit

It may be hard to believe that as a vegan & ketoer (not sure that’s a real word but I’m going to go with it) I don’t often make or eat frozen smoothies, smoothie bowls or things that are intentionally made cold. With the exception of my keto bites of course because they will melt if they are warm! But I have valid reasons for this and trust me it isn’t necessarily personal preference. Smoothies and smoothie bowls are a great way to get a lot of nutrients all at once. They are easy and fun to make, taste yummy and look pretty! So why do I try and make them only once or twice a month? 

Well let’s think about water, do you like your water warm, room temperature or ice cold? Many Americans would say ice cold because in our society it is common to serve water with ice. Almost every restaurant you go to will serve you water with ice in it. It is something ingrained in our heads, ice cold drink = refreshing. Do you think people in other cultures feel the and way? 

I know for certain that people in most Asian cultures as well as Indian do not use ice… almost never! I work for an acupuncturist and also get treated by him and he says that in China no one uses ice, they don’t even typically have freezers. My Ayurvedic practitioner feels the same way, believing that intentionally putting ice or cold things into your body is a sure way to cause digestive issues. But why? 

In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is commonly known as a balancing act of Yin & Yang, although there is much more to be known (damp heat, damp cold, etc) we will just graze the surface. By taking care of ourselves and eating for our body types & the season we strengthen our Qi, the life force in our bodies. One aspect of this balance and a very important one is our digestive fire. 

When food is thy medicine and medicine thy food we have to make sure we are digesting it well, right? It is believed that our stomach in a sense needs to “cook” or heat up the food we ingested in order to properly digest. When this digestive fire is strong we are able to properly absorb the nutrients we are eating. We are working so hard to eat well we want to make sure our bodies are taking in all of the nutrients it can! 

From a medical perspective think about applying heat to something, it vasodilates (aka opens up) the blood vessels which increases circulation. So when our stomachs are warm they are open and circulating making things easier for absorption and digestion. Heat=movement! 

In Ayurvedic medicine, the belief is very similar. The goal is to balance the digestive fire referred to as Angi. (Note two different cultures with a similar belief). While working with an Ayurvedic practitioner they will help you figure out your body type and “prescribe” you certain foods, herbs, spices and possible supplements as well as certain activities and exercises. This is all in hopes of getting your body to use the nutrients you are giving it! 

So again, why can’t I have cold things? There is a short article written on free people about why you shouldn’t drink cold water and the writer captures the point perfectly:

Digestive agni can be compared to a burning fire. If the flame is very low, then it will take a long time to cook the food. In the same way, if the fire is too big, it can burn the food. If we put a huge log on a low fire, it will extinguish it.

I know that was a lot of information and by no means am I a practitioner or professional. I just wanted to share some insight into something that I have learned through my journey so far. I find that drinking hot liquids and eating warm foods helps me avoid bloat, nausea and some other uncomfortable digestive issues. 

Does this mean you should never have a smoothie bowl or smoothie again? No! But maybe switch it up and have something warm in the morning like oatmeal (if you are non keto) and if you are keto then check out some of my breakfast bowls! Hot water with lemon, green tea or matcha lattes are also a great way to start the day and to sip on throughout the day. 

When it comes to health and making changes for a healthy lifestyle it all takes time. And with that I always say everything in moderation! Do what feels right for you, maybe if you can’t give up smoothie bowls every morning then try to drink hot water in between meals or check out certain spices that increase the digestive fire! 

Have any questions? Contact me on here or my instagram! 

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