Your mind and body are intimately intertwined and each impacts the other. Images and thoughts can start to create a physical response in your body. One of the most sensitive body systems is our digestion. When you are stressed it powerfully affects your digestive system. This connection is extremely important when it comes to weight loss.
So here’s a simplified picture of how stress affects your digestion:
Almost immediately your salivary glands aren’t as activated, so your digestive juices don’t flow as freely and frequently as when you are relaxed.
Your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) kicks in and tells your body to get ready for action. The sympathetic nervous system overrides the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and shuts down unnecessary functions like digestion. They’re unnecessary if you are preparing to fight, fly or freeze! It also releases stress hormones that cause you to store fat, particularly in the midsection.
Because your digestion is compromised before you even take your first bite of food, you are at increased risk for leaky gut and heartburn. You are unable to produce adequate stomach acid, which not only hinders proper digestion of your food but is also protective against pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Much of your immune system resides in your gut, after all. It changes the composition of the good bacteria in your gut which impacts your overall health as well as your ability to successfully lose weight. Stress also affects peristalsis, the rhythmic contractions in your intestines that move food along, extract nutrition and eliminate wastes.
While it is partially true that you are what you eat, it is even more true that you are what you eat and digest. So ensuring effective digestion is very important. In my Today is Still the Day plan, I recommend practicing a particular type of deep breathing before each meal to help you get into a more relaxed, less stressed state. You can eat the best, cleanest, highest quality food and if your digestion is compromised, you’re not getting the full benefit you could be.
Do you consciously take time to ensure you are calm and relaxed before eating?
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