Digestion starts in the brain

Photo: PabloMerchanMontes/unsplash

Photo: PabloMerchanMontes/unsplash

'We are what we eat'

And while it is very true, what is actually as important if not more is 'We are what we assimilate' What this means in practical terms is that we are or we become what our body can actually ABSORB. 

If you swallowed a marble what would happen?.. 

It would go straight through your digestive tract and appear a while later the other side. The same can happen to your food if you do not chew well and have good digestive function. 

When we spend a lot of money on good quality organic produce, but if we are not absorbing a large percentage it’s a waste of money. A good place to start would actually be to focus on improving our digestive function, so that our body is actually able to absorb this great food that we are consuming.  

What can we do to enhance our bodies ability to both breakdown and absorb food? 

Remove the Stressors! 

Stress is the number thing that will slow down your digestive function and inhibit your body producing hydrochloric acid and digestive enzymes.  

Why does this happen? In simple terms when we are stressed we are telling our body that we are in an unsafe situation - so to our body our life is potentially in danger and the last thing that we need to do to survive if we are faced with someone ready to attack and kill us is use energy breaking down the food we consume. So that system temporarily gets slowed down to conserve energy to ‘fight or flight’ from our stressor.  

Some simple tips to tell your body that you are in a safe place are:

Create a Haven 

Creating a space away from the computer, TV or desk can be beneficial in helping you to relax. If you eat at your computer or desk your brain is still in work mode, often this can be stressful, so you need to create a place that is a haven.  

Conscious Eating 

How many times have you ate something in front of the TV and then when it was finished think.. 'Who ate all of the crisps/popcorn/nuts? This is unconscious eating, which means that we over eat and are not being mindful of what we are full. 

Digestion Begins in the Brain! 

Digestive juices start flowing when we see and smell food. That’s why food can 'make your mouth water'. The mouth is the first place that food is going to come into contact with digestive juices. So the more time you take to appreciate your food and really smell it before you even take the first bite the more simulation your digestive system is getting. 

CHEW! CHEW! CHEW!! 

Teeth.. Why do we have them - mostly because they grind and break down our food to create more surface space so that our digestive juices can start to break it down before it even reaches our stomach. Due to our busy lifestyles, we often view food as an inconvenience – three quick chews later and a swallow its gone. Our stomach does not have teeth, so large bits of unbroken down food can sit there. This can make you feel very heavy and often bloated, and also puts a lot of strain on your body. If you know you are one of the first people to finish a meal at a table then try this little tip: when you next have something to eat.. Close your eyes! It is such a great way to get all of your attention into your mouth and sense what is going on. It really slows you down.  

Hara Hachi Bu. 

The okinawan people in Japan live by this rule which literally means 'Eat until 80% full', now it is worth listening to and adopting some of their ways as the okinawan's often live to 100 and over! This makes complete sense as it can take up to 20 minutes for signals from your stomach to go back to your brain to tell it that it’s full. Think about all of the times you’ve scoffed down a large meal and then 10 minutes felt very uncomfortable. If we are thinking about supporting our digested function and HCL and enzymes to break down food, you ideally want your food to be swimming in digestive juices rather than your whole stomach being full to the brim - this makes it so much harder for your body to break down food when totally full.  

Louise Crooks