Have you ever thought about how stress can affect your ability to digest foods properly? How many people suffer from chronic heartburn, IBS, Crohn's, and other digestive disorders. Our brain and stomach are in constant contact by way of the vagus nerve. Ever had butterflies before a speech or interview? That's your brain sending signals to the rest of your body..."I'm nervous!" A little stress is normal, but when we live with constant stressors, our brain can send out signals that slow digestion which creates major problems throughout our bodies. If you don't digest, nutrients are lost and then disease may follow. When we are stressed, the sympathetic nervous system is triggered and many normal functions such as digestion slow down. Basically, your brain is telling your body to stop doing the things that aren't necessary until you deal with the stressor. It's like being chased by a lion, you probably aren't thinking about eating. So how can you help your digestion by making small changes in your life? You may not be able to reduce your stressors, but you can take action to keep your mind more serene. Mindfulness is a great place to start. Being mindful is being present and in the moment. Mindfulness is paying attention to our bodies and recognizes our own needs. It is a self-care tool which we all could use a little more of! Mindfulness can also be helpful with our eating patterns. Eating to much? Eating the wrong foods for your body? Try paying attention to feelings of fullness, and how foods affect your moods and overall energy and health. Stress reduction can also occur through mindfulness based exercise programs such as yoga, Pilates, and Tai chi. Try incorporating some of these techniques into your life. You may improve your mood and your digestion!
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