Our bodies were not meant to be toxic dumps. Yet, improper digestion, high levels of stress, and pollutants such as chemicals in the air we breathe, the water we drink or wash with, and the foods we eat, continuously create toxins in the body. If not flushed out on a regular basis, Ayurveda contends that this toxic buildup can eventually manifest as disorders. And as we grow older, the body's inbuilt mechanisms for eliminating impurities tend to be less efficient, thus stressing the need for periodic internal cleansing therapy.
Three Kinds of ToxinsMaharishi Ayurveda describes three kinds of toxins. The most common type is ama, which is the sticky waste-product of digestion that builds up in the digestive tract when your digestion is either weak or overloaded with the wrong foods.
If ama is not cleared from the body and continues to build up, eventually it can leave the digestive tract and start circulating through the body. Once it settles in a specific area, over time ama becomes reactive and mixes with the subdoshas, the dhatus (body tissues), or malas (waste products such as urine). When it mixes with these parts of the physiology, it becomes amavisha, a more reactive, toxic type of AMA
The third type of toxins are what we would call environmental toxins today. Environmental toxins come from outside the body and include pesticides and chemical fertilizers in food, as well as preservatives, additives and genetically engineered foods. Food that has "gone bad" and is filled with harmful bacteria also falls in this category. Other garavisha toxins include arsenic, lead, asbestos, chemicals in detergents and household supplies, poisons, air and water pollution, chemicals and synthetics in clothing, and recreational drugs.
Amavisha and garavisha types of toxins are best handled by an ayurvedic physician, but there are a number of things you can do on an ongoing basis to prevent AMA from building up in your body.
Signs That You May Have an AMA Build-UpIf you experience a heavy feeling in your body, if your joints are stiff, if your tongue is coated when you wake up in the morning, if you have an unpleasant body odor, if you feel dull and sleepy after eating, if your mind is foggy, you may have a buildup of AMA in the body. Diarrhea, constipation, joint pain, sadness, dullness, lowered immunity, frequent bouts of colds and flu are all health problems that can be caused by AMA.
AMA clogs the channels of circulation in the body, preventing the unrestricted flow of nutrients to the cells and organs. Or it can clog the channels that carry waste from the cells and tissues, resulting in a toxic buildup.
How AMA is Created: Diet and Lifestyle Factors AMA is the waste product of incomplete digestion, so any dietary or lifestyle habits that disrupt digestion can cause AMA
If you eat foods that are too heavy to digest, such as fried foods, hard cheeses, meats, leftovers, junk foods, processed foods, and rich desserts, these can overload your digestion and cause AMA to form. Cold foods and drinks -- such as ice cream, ice-cold water and foods straight from the refrigerator -- also are hard to digest, since cold temperatures put out the digestive fire.
How much food and the type of food you can easily digest depends on your digestive capacity. Digestion can be weak, strong, or irregular, depending on your body type or imbalances: If your digestion is weak or dull (a characteristic associated with Kapha dosha), and you eat too much food or food that is too heavy for your digestive system, you'll form AMA
Someone with a strong digestion (associated with Pitta dosha) will be able to eat larger quantities and richer foods without forming AMA A person with an irregular digestion (associated with Vata body type) will find that their appetite and digestive ability fluctuates -- sometimes it's strong and sometimes weak.
You need to adjust your eating and habits to suit your digestive type. Digestion also fluctuates according to the seasons, and if you don't adjust your diet and lifestyle when the weather changes, you may form AMA.
Digestion can also be weakened by poor eating habits. For instance, not eating at the same time every day, not eating the main meal at noon when the digestion is stronger, skipping meals or eating between meals can all throw the digestion out of balance.
An irregular daily routine can also disrupt your digestion and cause AMA Mental, emotional and physical stress is another cause of incomplete digestion and AMA If you've ever tried eating when you're upset, and felt the stomach pains afterwards, you know why this is so.
In general, any time you go against your own nature, or fall out of harmony with natural law, your digestion will reflect that and create AMA.
Next: AMA-Reducing Diet