According to Ayurveda, the digestion (or digestive fire, agni) is a key to achieving optimal health. A strong digestion will take anything that comes into the system, keep the nourishing parts it needs, and eliminate the rest. A weak digestive fire, on the other hand, will not be able to keep up with this process and thus toxins (or ama) build up and overwhelm the system—this can ultimately lead to imbalances, illness, and possibly disease.
Modern science refers to this as the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) or “gut-brain“: two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells lining your entire digestive tract. Although the second brain can’t “think” the way your mind does, it does communicate directly with your big brain. In fact, studies show that a healthy gut microbiome supports mental health, since the gut microbiome secretes the mood-boosting hormones, serotonin and dopamine. Research also states that 70 to 80% of the immune system lives in the gut, making a healthy gut essential to a healthy immune system.
This science reinforces what Ayurveda has believed for 5,000 years: Overall health is directly linked to the health of the digestive system.