What is all the fuss about Digestion? You are what you eat right?
Well there is some truth in that, but you are what you Absorb.
This starts with Digestion… It is not just one part of your body that relies on this function, it’s your whole system.
Every cell, that makes up every tissue, which makes up every organ depends on your digestive system to provide the nutrients it needs to function properly.
You might be experiencing digestive issues such as bloating, sleepy after meals, acid reflux, strong sweat odour, change of moods, bad breath, loss of appetite, diarrhoea and so on.. It could be, that these symptoms have become part of your day and you can’t remember being any other way.
No matter what your digestion status, there is always room to help your body be the most sophisticated system that exists! The body knows exactly what to do when given the right nutrients.
Key Steps of Digestion
- Nervous System (brain)
- Chewing (mouth)
- Mixing/Propulsion (moving food through the GI tract)
- Breakdown of Nutrients (Stomach, Gallbladder, Pancreas)
- Absorption (Intestines, Blood & Lymph)
- Elimination (Cell to Cell Communication)
Digestion can only start in the Brain! Not the stomach. Not the mouth. Not the Intestines. It starts North and works it way South.
The focus of this guide is to look at the first steps of Digestion, mainly the brain, and then the mouth. This is where your digestive processes are activated to ensure your body can absorb the nutrients from your foods, and be assimilated throughout your body.
Digestion is activated once the brain has time to calm down.
This is not a time to multi-task, work at your desk, watch tv, use technical devices, drive or be “on-the-go” mode.
Slow Down Your Breath
- Take 3-4 deep breaths before taking your first bite of food.
- Aim for your inhale to match your exhale. Once mastered, lengthen your exhale, example – inhale for 4, exhale for 6.
- We are a society of NOW, quick, fast! The brain acknowledges this as our sympathetic state, running from wolves!
- When eating foods in this state, the body cannot absorb the food. The body literally thinks an emergency is going on and is working hard internally to keep you alive.
- Take some moments to pause before you eat. Allow your brain to switch to your digestive mode, which is your parasympathetic state, a state of rest.
- Create an atmosphere, that you can recognise it is your “slow” time.
- Light a candle, dim the light, spray your favourite fragrance, play soothing music.
- Experiment to find your own unique way.
- We are creatures of habit, once you have found what works for you, your body will be able to switch into your “slow” mode faster, the more you practise.
- Visualise for those extra special meals and occasions!
- The thought of your favourite meal, can be enough to stimulate your salivary glands. The brain is so powerful, it will send the important signals south to prepare your organs to be ready for food.
- Use this technique for your favourite meal of your week. You can also do this on a daily basis.
- Take some moments to give thanks, or say Grace before you eat.
- This is also another way to switch to a restful state.
- When we focus on the good, this allows our brain to switch from constantly “doing-mode” to moments of appreciation.
- Give your brain a break!
Need an Extra-Boost?
- Still feeling wired or jittery? Get close to the ground! It literally grounds you.
- Sitting on the ground to dine is perfectly ok, you may want to dine at a coffee table. Many cultures around the world eat this way, it encourages more intimate discussions by removing barriers of table and chairs. A good way to form bonds with your family and friends.
When all else fails, we need a back-up plan!
- Lay down on your couch, or your favourite place (I love my lounge floor or yoga mat), close your eyes for a few moments, take a couple of deep breaths, notice with each breath you start to slowly relax. This is one of the quickest ways to get your brain from hyper-activity to a state of rest.
- Do a Handstand or a Headstand for those yoga lovers, just get upside-down. Childs pose is also very grounding, which involves bringing your forehead to rest on the ground.
- There are also certain essential oils that stimulate the vagus nerve that can help calm you down, however if you are like me, super-sensitive to these, experiment with all the many tools above, which are completely free.
CHEW & ENJOYMENT
Teeth help our smile radiate and also have this important purpose, to CHEW!
Our stomach does not have teeth, therefore it is not much use swallowing food whole.
- Between each mouthful, allow your cutlery to rest, just put it down! Use this time to tell a joke or say something about your day.
- When we chew, our saliva breaks down food into simple sugars, creating a sweet taste, so the more we chew, the cravings for something sweet after meal times disappears.
- Chewing brings more awareness when we are full, and you are less likely to overeat.
It’s not a race!
Mother nature gave us this wonderful gift to provide us food for us to enjoy!
As children, we may have been bribed to eat everything on our plate as fast as we can, do the dishes, and then be rewarded with dessert… We need to enjoy these brief moments to allow the body to get the nutrition it deserves.
Being mindful when eating your foods.
Oh no, I hear you say. Mindful? Perhaps an eye-roll?
Our modern society is a far cry from how our ancestors ate, however this does not stop us appreciating where our food came from and how it was made.
- Whilst cooking, fall in love with the process, if you are lucky and someone is cooking for you – hang out in the kitchen together and enjoy the creations that are being made. The cutting, aromas, sounds, simmering, roasting, steaming, bubbling..
- At the start of your meal, close your eyes and imagine where all the flavours came from, see if you can recognise all the ingredients!
- Embrace it all, right down to the moment it is on your plate.
We all need food everyday, why not learn how to make it work to maximise your health and to also enjoy it?