Digestion Starts in the Brain

By Kathleen Goller, NTP

Ever thought about how your mindset impacts your entire body? If you’ve ever been scared by a sibling or friend, it’s easy to see that your body can instantaneously cease up with the onset of a thought.

When we eat, we start preparing our body to digest food long before it enters our mouth. The thought, sight, smell, and anticipation of eating all send messages to the rest of our body that nourishment is coming! Without this cascade of messages, we fail to prime the body properly to breakdown and absorb nutrients. Such dysfunction can lead to leaky gut, general GI distress and autoimmune reactions.

If your goals include standing on your head, and digesting food properly, then my main goal today is to remind you of the importance of “rest and digest” also known as the parasympathetic nervous system. It’s the hardest thing to do these days- as we emphasize multi-tasking and the endless grind to do more, but the benefit of stopping to smell the roses (orrrr slow cooker chili on a cold day) might just help us become more productive in the long run.

When we’re able to digest and absorb the nutrients we’re ingesting, our mind and body will be better equipped to take on everything our job, kids, or long commute home, could possibly throw at us. But let’s not forget that these things take practice. We must take the opportunity to practice mindfulness and being present as often as we can.

Yoga is a great place to start as it teaches us not only to stay present, but also to learn how to connect with our bodies, another powerful insight. Stuck in traffic? Instead of allowing the situation to take control of our emotions, simply remember that it’s something we cannot control, and refocus on something greater, like the beauty of the sunrise, instead. These little things accumulate into a much larger benefit for our mind and body, but we will never truly understand how much better we could feel unless we try it.

Challenge yourself today to simply start noticing when your body is tense, take a deep breath and let go of that feeling. Move your thoughts to a calm and content place, and continue on your day. After a few weeks of this intent practice, take note of how your body feels. Are you now experiencing less gas, bloating, headaches, and body pains? The mind is a powerful tool in impacting our overall health. Let’s be our own housekeeper and experience how much less clutter there will be when we clean out the root cause of many bodily stressors.

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