Ama is the Ayurveda term for toxins, sludge, junk, and waste that block our channels and suppress our digestive and mental systems. Undigested thoughts, experiences, and emotions create mental Ama; whereas undigested food creates physical Ama. Ama weakens our metabolism and impairs on the natural flow of energy throughout the body. Ama contributes to lethargy, depression, arthritis, constipation, headaches, and acne to name a few.
How To Prevent Ama
Eating at right times, giving space between meals, eating for your constitution, and keeping your digestive fire strong are the best ways to prevent Ama. Drinking ginger tea with a pinch of black pepper or a herb called Trikatu (a combination of Indian long pepper, black pepper, and ginger) will help burn away Ama and spark your digestive fire. Using digestive spices will help you detoxify Ama and prevent future build up. Drinking detox and replenish tea (ginger, cumin, coriander, and fennel) helps mitigate and remove Ama.
What Food Combinations To Avoid To Prevent Ama
Ama can form as a result of combining foods are that “incompatible”. Ayurveda understands that some foods just do not agree with others. Combining certain foods can create a combative atmosphere in the gut. This conflict can create indigestion and formation of toxicity in the body. The ancient texts set the following guidelines:
- Beans should not be eaten with fruit, cheese, eggs fish, milk, or yogurt (Such as in a burrito).
- Eggs should not be eaten with fruit (especially melons), beans, cheese, fish, meat, or dairy (Such as in an omelet).
- Fruit should not be eaten with other food unless it is cooked.
- Honey should not be eaten with equal parts ghee.
- Lemon should not be eaten with cucumbers, dairy, or tomatoes.
- Melons should be eaten alone (You might recall a few gassy picnics because of this one).
- Nightshades (potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes, chilis, and sweet bell peppers) should not be eaten with dairy (Eggplant parmesan, anyone?).
- Radishes should not be eaten with bananas, dairy, or raisins.
- Yogurt should not be eaten with fruit, cheese, fish, meat, or nightshades (No more parfaits).
I realize some of these sounds like hideous combinations that you would never dream of putting together anyways, but some of these combinations are popular in our culture. Look at the parfait. Fruit and dairy. This is not good because the fruit is light and easy to digest, while the dairy is hard to digest. One has to wait its turn. While waiting, the dairy will curdle and the fruit will ferment. This creates gas, bloating, and toxemia. Salads with fruits, bacon and eggs, tomatoes with mozzarella cheese, eggs with cheese, black bean and queso quesadillas or tacos are other common combos that create indigestion and Ama.
Your ability to handle incompatible food combinations relates to your digestive strength. If your Agni is strong, you might occasionally eat these items without discomfort, but if your Agni is weak, you are more likely to experience negative reactions. For the same reason, combing raw foods with cooked foods in the same meal can wreak havoc because the cooked foods are already partially broken down, but the raw food requires more effort to break down in the body.
Fruit is considered “pre-digested”, meaning – it is so easy to breakdown that in theory – it can pass from mouth to elimination in less than an hour. Because of this, fruit should be eaten alone as a snack or 30–45 minutes before your meal or 2–3 hours after your meal. This way the fruit will not have to wait its turn to digest with the rest of the meal.
How To Protect Your Agni
Keeping your Agni or digestive fire strong is the best way to prevent Ama. The best ways to protect your Agni are to:
- Eat for your constitution.
- Eat for the season.
- Drink ginger or digestive tea.
- Eat wholesome, freshly prepared foods.
- Avoid overeating and eating junk food.
- Eat breakfast to your degree of hunger.
- Allow lunch to be the biggest meal of the day.
- Eat a light dinner and make sure it’s not too late.
- Use digestive spices such as ginger, black pepper, cardamom, and turmeric.
- Never use ICE.