I did it again – I overate and I feel awful! I’ve tried everything and I continue to get indigestion! Have you heard this complaint before?
Digestion issues are common for many people; but even if you aren’t one of them, this time of year, we tend to either overeat or eat richer foods than usual, resulting in some form of indigestion. This occurs often because we are not aware that we are full. According to current information, it takes about ten minutes for our brain to register that we are satisfied, so when we eat quickly or are distracted, we do not realize that we are satiated until it is too late.
The Wall Street Journal’s March 2009 article in New Health Journal addressed the effects of stress on our digestion. L. Edwards, director of the Behavioral Chronic Pain Management program at Duke University Medical Center, said: “Now, we recognize that what happens in the brain affects the body and what happens in the body affects the brain.” The article goes on to say:
“The digestive tract has its own extensive system of nerve cells lining the esophagus, stomach and intestines—known as the gut brain—that are extremely sensitive to thoughts and emotions. That’s what creates the feeling of butterflies in the stomach. When anxiety persists, it can set off heartburn, indigestion and irritable-bowel syndrome, in which the normal movement of the colon gets out of rhythm, traps painful gas and alternates between diarrhea and constipation.”
This is not a pretty picture, but it is the truth. While most of us acknowledge that stress has an effect, it is greater than we imagine. Stress produces tension in our internal organs, decreasing their oxygen supply. This directly influences our ability to take in nutrients from food. The more oxygen that is absorbed in our internal organs, the healthier they are. We definitely want to keep our internal organs happy!Breath provides many digestion benefits. First of all, it slows your eating down, allowing you to really savor your food. We are told by the medical community that it is beneficial to take slower, deeper breaths. The reason is to create movement in your diaphragm that massages your stomach and other organs, increasing oxygen flow and nutrient absorption as well as expediting the elimination of waste. In addition, there are more aggressive breathing practices that stimulate your digestive fire, but you must learn them in person from an experienced instructor.”
A great beginning is to practice slowing down your breath. Notice if the breath expands into your belly as you inhale; or maybe the breath expands your ribcage. Whatever you notice, simply becoming aware of your breath is a great beginning to enhancing your digestion.As you prepare for the holidays, give this a try – your body, mind, and Thanksgiving guests will thank you!