Digestion & The Brain
The more I work in the holistic nutrition field, the more I discover just how many people struggle with digestion on a regular basis.
There are numerous causes of this: low stomach acid, not chewing our food well enough, eating on the go or in a hurry, eating meals while distracted, or just stress in general.
However, there is one cause that I don't think many people realize - the connection between digestion and the brain.
You see, digestion begins in the brain, not when we put food in our mouth. Digestion begins when we see and smell food. This signals our body to begin the process of producing salivary enzymes, as well as insulin, to help break down our food and shuttle it off to where it is needed in the body.
Most of us don't ever let this first step of digestion happen. We are too busy to slow down and allow our brain to sense that a meal is about to begin. We just jump right in, wolf down our food, and then what happens? We experience bloating, indigestion, heartburn, or a feeling of uncomfortable fullness. This also effects the entire digestive chain because if we don't complete the first and most crucial step, the rest of the steps are off as well!
So, what can we do about it? We can start by taking a second before we begin our meals. Look and smell the food, say a short prayer, and take 5 deep breaths. This allows your body to start the process of digestion, as well as get into the rest and digestion, parasympathetic state.
Think that all sounds silly or literally in my head? Before you mock it, try it. Try it for a full day with all of your meals. Eat slowly, chew your food well, and eat way from a screen or distractions. Take deep breaths and set your fork down between bites. I promise you'll be amazed by the results!