Our ancient wisdom expressed through Ayurveda emphasises strict dietary disciplines as the first line of treatment as one can suffer from illness if the digestive fire is not good and the food is not digested properly. Our gut health is most important for a healthy immune system so what better time than ahead of International Women’s Day 2024 to seek Ayurvedic insights for women’s gut health and well-being?

International Women's Day 2024 with Ayurveda self-care: Ayurvedic guidance on nurturing gut health for women (Photo by Pinterest)
International Women’s Day 2024 with Ayurveda self-care: Ayurvedic guidance on nurturing gut health for women (Photo by Pinterest)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Uma V, Assistant Research Officer and Physician at AVP Research Foundation, shared, “Women’s digestive experiences may vary from men due to unique life events such as menstruation, menopause, and motherhood. Ayurveda emphasises the importance of protecting and promoting women’s health during these life events. These events can have a significant impact on gut health, leading to frequent issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, loss of appetite, acidity, and indigestion.”

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She added, “Not only can these, digestive problems cause physical discomfort but they can also have an adverse impact on emotional well-being, leading to anxiety, mood swings, or depression. However, women can take proactive steps to care for their bodies and promote gut health during these pivotal phases of their lives. One of the key ways to support gut health is by adopting a balanced and nutritious diet, including freshly cooked, light, easily digestible and warm food. Adding spices such as cumin, ginger, garlic, fennel, cardamom, carom seeds and asafoetida can aid digestion and reduce gas and bloating. Incorporating healthy fats like coconut oil, sesame oil and ghee into the diet can help support digestive function.”

Dr Uma V advised, “In addition to dietary changes, adopting a daily routine that includes regular exercise, mealtimes, and sleep can also help support hormone balance and digestive regulation. It is also important to avoid consuming packed foods, junks and reheated foods. Regular physical exercises are also known to have numerous benefits for the body and mind by improving the energy flow inside the body. It helps to strengthen the muscles, and increase blood circulation. As a result, the body feels more energized and revitalized, helps to eliminate toxins from the body, and improves digestion and overall gut health. By prioritising gut health, women can take control of their physical and emotional well-being, leading to a happier and healthier life.”

Bringing her expertise to the same, Dr Karthiyayini Mahadevan, Head of Wellness and Well-being at Columbia Pacific Communities, talked about the principles of ayurvedic nutrition and explained:

  • Ayurveda insists on dinacharya-daily routines, which help eliminate waste from digested food.
  • During seasonal changes, our body undergoes certain physiological changes that can be addressed by following a special dietary discipline called Ritucharya. It involves following a diet for 15 days at the end of the current season and 15 days at the beginning of the upcoming season, known as Ritu Sandhi. It ensures the gut flora is supported, the food gets digested easily and unwanted accumulations are eliminated.
  • Ayurveda emphasises the consumption of seasonal crops, vegetables and fruits.

Elaborating upon why is women’s gut health important, she said, “Women’s physiology changes dynamically with every phase of life. The inner physiology undergoes a significant shift. Ayurvedic guidelines provide dietary needs to support this phase of women, catering towards the individual mind and body type. Balancing Apana Vayu and supporting gut health is crucial during this stage. Around the reproductive years, one gets an imbalance with the vitiation of the dosha. The anchoring/grounding quality of the Vata needs to be maintained. At this phase of life, balancing doshas for effective flow and transformation is crucial. In perimenopausal and post-menopausal years, there is retention of water, hot flushes, etc. These are due to Kapha and Pitta imbalances, which a good diet can address.”

Dr Karthiyayini Mahadevan suggested the following tips:

1. Eat seasonal vegetables and fruits.

2. Eat organically grown vegetables and grains.

3. Support the gut with probiotics, part of your cultural cuisine.

4. Add adequate fibres to the diet, particularly plant fibres.

5. Eat at the right time when digestive agni is working efficiently.

6. Adding spices such as ginger, cumin, coriander and cinnamon supports and activates the digestive fire.

7. Ginger with lemon and a pinch of rock salt before food helps in active digestion.

8. Chewing fennel after a meal also helps digest food.

9. Breakfast is the most important meal. Also, one should have a hearty lunch and a light dinner before 7 PM.

She concluded, “Studies have proven that women react differently to stimuli depending on their gut health. Gut flora brings out certain substances from the digested food that act as neurotransmitters. So, maintaining good gut health is essential for overall health.”


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