Digestive process-6 stages of digestion-Ayurveda view

How much do we truly understand the digestive process?

Ayurveda provides us a depth view of the digestive process, that goes beyond what is commonly known, sees the digestion as the center of the entire well-being of a person, and branching it into six unique stages.

“We are what we eat” and also ``what we digest``, illustrate that the food we eat and digestion is the most important in staying healthy.

According to Ayurveda, at the moment you put your food in your mouth, the digestive process starts, and depending on what you eat, lasts approximately 6 hours, 1 hour for every stage.

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The whole process of digestion happens in six stages, related to the six tastes which are:

1. Sweet stage (madhura avastha paka)
2. Sour stage (amla avasta paka)
3. Salty (lavana avastha paka)
4. Pungent stage (katu avastha paka)
5. Bitter stage (tikta avastha paka)
6. Astringent taste (kashaya avastha paka)

All stages are also related to every Dosha (the characteristics of your body) and nourish every 7 Dhatu-tissue (plasma, bones, muscles, fat, bone marrow and nervous, and reproductive system). 

The food you eat turns into your brain, nose, eyes, in fact, it becomes you. Incredible isn`t?

Sweet and sour stage are related to Kapha, salty and pungent to Pitta, bitter and astringent to Vata.

Understanding the six stages of digestion helps to know your body better, learn how to heal it, and you can avoid digestive issues, toxic accumulation, and constipation.

So, let`s understand each stage.

1.Sweet stage of digestion - Madhura Avastha Paka

As I said earlier, According to Ayurveda, digestion process begins when the food enters into the mouth, in fact, when the saliva meets the food.

Saliva begins the process of melting the food particles, making it moist, foamy, oily and that`s why is so important to chew, giving your saliva time to work, so the food can be well digested.

The sweet stage is the first hour of digestion, start from mouth to upper stomach when the body absorbs the food sugars.

The blood sugar rises and also earth and water elements of your body, making you feel sleepy, sedentary or bloated, especially after a heavy meal.

The stage is related to Kapha because after a meal you may feel heavy and full, which indicates that this stage of digestion is compromised. But if you eat the right amount and light food, you should feel full of energy.

Modern science also has shown that Amylase (the enzyme that catalyzes the hydrolysis of starch into sugars and present in the saliva of humans, where the chemical process of digestion begins) and Lingual Lipase (lipid digestion) starts in the mouth.

2.Sour Stage of digestion-Amla Avastha Paka

During this stage, hydrochloric acid in the stomach starts the digestive process. While carbohydrate and fat digestion occur in the mouth, proteins begin in the stomach.

The digestive hydrochloric acid creates an acidic environment within the stomach, destroy any bacteria or virus from food, and the digestive enzyme pepsinogen is converted into active pepsin.

The sour stage is called in this way because the stomach becomes very acidic, and is related to Pitta characteristics which have the stomach acid extremely high.

At the same time, the stomach has to protect it`s lining form to prevent ulcer, gastritis and other digestive issues, which are associated with Kapha characteristics.

So, the sour stage is related to both characteristics Pitta which creates the acid, and Kapha which protects the stomach lining.

In this way, the Earth(Kapha) and Fire(Pitta) elements are predominant, the food is broken into even smaller pieces, and the stomach begins to be lighter.

If you have ever had rash, hives and/or other skin problems, it happened during the sour stage when Pitta imbalances occur.

Excess acidic foods like meat, without equalizing them with alkalizing foods(fruits, nuts, legumes, and vegetables-especially root vegetable for those with high Kapha characteristics) you may experience hyperacidity.

3.Salty stage of digestion-Lavana Avastha Paka

In this stage, the food enters the first part of small intestines, the duodenum. The duodenum prepares the food for absorption in the small intestine, the alkaline mucus is secreted which neutralize the hydrochloric acid.

The food is mixed with pancreatic juices and bile to further the food. Peristalsis, the smooth wave of stomach contractions, push the food through the duodenum towards the jejunum and takes about one hour for the food to cross the length of the duodenum.

The salty stage is related to fire and water elements of your body, it is entirely Pitta characteristics, and a significant one, due to the carbohydrates, protein, and fat digestion from the food.

In this stage of digestion, it is recommended to keep a healthy electrolyte balance (sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, calcium, and phosphate).
Also in this stage can easily occur Edema (swelling), or low kidney function which are the result of excess or insufficient salt.

4.Pungent stage of digestion-Katu Avastha        Paka

This stage takes place in the second part of the small intestines, in jejunum, and is related to Pitta and Vata, the fire and air energy.

Due to the fire element, the stage is sharp, hot, and subtle, the food becomes yellow-brown filled with enzymes.

Skin rashes, hemorrhoids, overheating happens in this stage when the Pitta imbalance occurs due to the excess o fire.

Due to excess of air related to Vata, makes you to experience bloating or gas. 

5.Bitter stage of digestion-Tikta avastha Paka

In this stage, the food takes place in the ileum, the final and most extended portion of the small intestine.
Governed by movement and assimilation, further digestion takes place here, with the help of ether and air elements.

Air stimulates intestinal movement(peristalsis) which pushes food into the intestines.

Ether helps absorb nutrients through the ileum wall.

Due to the lightness of the Air and Ether elements, there is a feeling of hunger at this stage, and it is important not to eat again until the body finishes digesting the last meal and the complete absorption will occur.

If you put more food in the body until fully digest occurs, you will experience symptoms like acne, bloating, constipation or other digestive issues. 

6.Astringent stage-Kashaya Avstha Paka

The astringent stage is the stage when the body absorbs all nutrients from the food, and now is turned into waste, the full circle of digestion becomes complete.

This stage is governed by air which activates peristalsis, and earth element that creates the stool, the characteristics of Vata and Kapha.

In this stage, the foodstuff enters the cecum, (the pouch connected to the junction of the small and large intestines) becomes thicker and start to takes shape as it passes the colon, preparing for elimination.

These are the six stages of digestion, but the process is more profound than that and happens in the subtle levels.

After the main process is over the subtle digestive process begins and takes 8-41 days.

The main digestive process in which food passes through the GI tract (the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus) until expelled, separating nutrients from waste, is the process that most people is aware.

We are generally unaware of what happens in the “subtle” layers of the body once this known digestive process is finished.

In the “subtle” layers of the body digestive process continues, nourishing every tissue.

Once food has completed the six stages of the digestive process, the nutrient fluid (Ahara rasa) remains in the body and nourish in a particular order each tissue layer; for each tissue, the duration of nourishing is between 2-7 days.

Those tissue layers are:

Plasma (rasa)-with function in menstruation and lactation either
Blood (rakta)-the creation of new red blood cells and tendons
Muscle (mamsa)I-formation of muscle tissue and skin
Fat (meda)I-function of fat mass and sweat
Bone (asthi)I-formation of bones, teeth, nails, hair
Bone marrow/nerve tissue (majja)I-with function in bone marrow/nerve tissue tears
Reproductive (shukra/artava)I-formation of sperm and ovum

Due to this, in fact, You Digest the food You Ate…41 Days Ago...

According to Ayurveda, the complete process of digestion takes about 41 days, ending on day 42 with the creation of Ojas-the subtle essence related to health and is the result of proper digestion.
The food's nourishment goes through each of our seven tissue layers, so, the better you digest, the more Ojas you will have.

The body is an incredible and perfect system which keep us healthy and vibrant. Ayurveda teaches us how important the digestive process is to our health and well-being.
So, keep your fire burning and healthy, discover and learn how it works and why.

Read also                                                                                                            **Dhatu malas-The waste products of the body                                          **Your unique body and mind type-Dosha                                                **The meaning of Ojas in Ayurveda                                                            **What are The Five Elements of Life?                                                            **Ahara mala(s)-The residual products in your body