Last weeks post created some interesting conversations! So, if constipation is an end problem, where does it all start? It all has to do with proper digestion.
Digestion is a process moving from North to South. Meaning, it starts up top, moves through a “long tube”, the digestive tract, and comes out at the very end. This means that if things are not working well from the upper end of the tube, it will just be worse the further down the tube we go.
So, why don’t we go to the very first step of digestion and see what we can do to improve the situation on a daily basis. Do you think that the first step is when the food enters your mouth? Close, but that’s not it.
The very first step of digestion actually happens in your brain! When we see, smell or think of the food we are about to eat we trigger a response in the brain. This is an important step because the brain in turn sends signals to get the digestive tract ready for food. That’s why for instance we start salivating before we eat, and it also activates our stomach juices.
However, this can only happen when we are in a relaxed state, which is run by the parasympathetic nervous system aka “the rest and digest” system. If we are hurrying and feeling a bit stressed, it is the sympathetic nervous system that is turned on aka “the fight and flight” system. When this system is turned on we are not able to digest food very well. It makes a lot of sense to the body, because whenever the fight and flight mode is up and running, the body’s main concern is immediate survival.
We have gotten so used to being in constant stress, running from one place to the next that we now perceive this state as normal. It is not. Therefore, if you want to start your digestion off right you need to activate your parasympathetic, rest and digest, system. This can easily be done by sitting down at the table and taking at least 3 deep breaths, preferably more, before eating. By allowing your body to slow down and relax, it is now able to start the digestion process in a great way. Whether you are religious or not, saying grace before eating actually makes a lot of sense from a digestive point of view.
It also goes without saying that eating while driving, walking, or hurrying in between meetings is not going to be a great idea. To improve upon your digestion from the very start the principle is simple and easy to perform. Anyone can take 3 deep breaths before eating. We just have to retrain ourselves to slow down and relax before we eat.
Take a deep breath, slow down and enjoy your food! 😉