Quite simply, 'Ama' can be translated as "undigested food". It is food that is unable to be metabolised by the body. In Ayurveda, a predominance of ama is the first step leading to disease in the body. When our diet is not in alignment with our 'doshas' or biological constitution this results in the body not assimilating nutrients and resulting in excessive ama or undigested matter.
There are many factors that can lead to the formation of ama in the body
- mental stress and anxiety
- eating heavy foods that the body cannot digest
- consuming foods that cause irritation or inflammation in the stomach
- excessive consumption of fast foods that are rich in salt and sugar
Some of the signs of excessive ama in the body are loss of strength, heaviness, lethargy, excessive salivation, anorexia and indigestion
One way to identify excessive ama is by examining your tongue in the morning. If there is a thick white coating on it, it means the body is unable to digest the foods consumed the previous day. In Ayurveda it is recommended to use a copper tongue scraper every morning as part of your mouth cleaning ritual to remove excessive ama from the tongue.
The antithesis of ama is Agni. When one thrives, the other dies. One way you can tackle excessive ama is my generating Agni or digestive fire in your body. The strength or power of agni comes from a strong digestive system. Agni literally translated as Fire and when we talk about a good digestion in Ayurveda, we often refer to agni to assist in digestion.
Agni and ama often resort to a perpetual cycle where an increase in ama is caused by a decrease in agni which results in a degradation in health. Ama then spreads from the digestive tract (where it is easier to correct), to entering the channels and tissues in the body and coats individual cell membranes further impacting immune response.
Some herbs and spices that boost digestive fire are
- Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry)
In summary, you are what you eat. Eating the right foods for your dosha, eating slowly and mindfully, practicing yoga and meditation and strengthening your digestive fire are all recommended as ways to reduce ama in the body.