We grew up thinking digestion is a straightforward process; we eat food – we digest it, and that’s about it. But have you ever eaten too quickly and felt like your stomach was about to burst? Or does drinking a glass of water give you heartburn or leave your stomach feeling bloated? Episodes of constipation, stomach cramps, or diarrhea are messages from your gut something is off balance. Many of us have gut symptoms and take for granted the importance of what the symptoms are trying to tell us. Our bodies provide information in the form of symptoms letting us know that something(s) needs to be corrected.
The first thing to understand is how the body digest the food you take in. The normal gastric juices (stomach acid and enzymes) are released when the body is in a calming nervous system (parasympathetic nervous system). When our bodies are in the stressor nervous system (sympathetic nervous system), these important juices are not being released. So if you are eating quickly at your desk while working or eating in your car between meetings, chances are you are not chewing or digesting your food well. And the anti-acid may not be the answer – overuse of medications can block the normal digestive function.
Preparing your meal is as equally important. When you prepare and cook your meal, it activates the senses and sends signals to your stomach. Smelling, touching, and seeing the food will send messages to the brain – which in turn sends messages to the gut to get ready for the food; and the digestion process begins before you take your first bite.
If you still continue to have symptoms, take a look at the type food you are putting in your body. A low fiber, high sugar, processed foods, nutrient poor, high-calorie diet may also be the issue. Other causes may be a low-grade infection or gut imbalances such as an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestines. Toxins such as mercury and mold can also damage the gut; along with a lack of digestive enzymes or a zinc deficiency.
To truly heal and rid yourself of those miserable symptoms, you must listen to the messages your body is telling you. Not only is eating the right foods crucial, but eating the correct amount in the right environment and frame of mind is just as crucial to overall gut health.
Healthy digestion is about more than what you eat. It’s also about slowing down, chewing your food, and being mindful. For more information, call Compassionate Healthcare Associates, (661) 295-7777