The digestive fire and the metabolic capacity of the body is called the 'Agni' which is responsible for overall health of the body. Any kind of disease or disorder is as a result of imbalance in the 'Agni'. Ayurveda aims at maintaining the 'Agni' in a balanced state to keep us healthy. These are some tips to improve your 'Agni'

1. Water- It's a myth that you should drink 2- 3 glasses of water as soon as you get up. Drinking so much of water in the morning douses the Agni just as pouring water on a fire. One cup of warm water is good enough. Also, water intake throughout the day should be only be in response to your thirst.

2. Food timings- Regular food timings is very important. The hypothalamus in the brain manages the regular secretion of digestive juices only if the food timings are regular. Improper secretion of these juices due to irregular food timings causes indigestion. BF by 9pm, Lunch by 1pm and Dinner by 7pm (Yeah! 7pm) are the best timings.

3. Exercise- Some sort of physical exercise is necessary for the body. Sedentary lifestyle slows down the metabolism and hence the digestion. A brisk walk, 10-12 Surya Namaskar, Yoga Asanas, jogging or  simple stretching exercises for about 15-30 minutes everyday help improve the digestive power. 

4. What to have after meals- Warm/hot water/saunf/ a piece of jaggery/ pan

5. What not to have after meals- ice cream, desserts, milk, sweets made from milk products.

6. Fasting after feasting- If you have had a heavy meal, just skip the next meal. Such fasting is to keep your digestive fire in a good condition. 

7. The Upwas(Fast)- has come down in our tradition with a sole purpose of giving the digestive system rest to recuperate. Fast only on milk and/or fruits instead of the regular Upvas food items.

8. Seasonal variations - The digestive power varies with changing seasons. Its best from Nov-Feb, least from May-Aug and moderate during the rest of the months. Food quantity and quality(according to heavy/light to digest) should be according to the seasonal variations.

9. Seasonal Panchakarma - Seasonal body cleansing therapies or Panchakarma help to maintain the Agni in a very balanced state throughout the year. Vaman during the spring (Feb-March), Basti during the rainy season(July-Aug) and Virechan during the Autumn (Oct-Nov) are the seasonal Panchakarma.

10. Eat only 2 meals a day- BF and lunch after the age of 45. Have only fruits or a glass of milk for dinner. With advancing age the Agni of the body reduces gradually. So food must be reduced gradually. this helps prevent diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease after the age of 50.

11. Don'ts - Food - Snacking in between meals and overeating hamper the digestive power to a large extent. Eating two or more foods with opposite qualities (Milk and curd, milk and anything sour/salty, milk and fruits-fruit salad, milkshakes, tea/coffee/milk after meals etc Seriously! There are too many such combinations! Ask your Ayurvedic Doc for more) simultaneously or around the same time also has the same effect. It is better to avoid these practices completely.

12. Don’ts - Lifestyle- There is nothing which slows down the metabolism more than day time sleeping, specially immediately after meals. Keeping awake at night or sleeping late night very much messes up the digestion. Avoid completely.

Nurture your Agni well and it will take care of you well.