Why is proper digestion important?
- Less stomach pain
- Increased nutrient absorption
- More energy
- Less issues in the bathroom
- Smell your food – Smelling your food before eating it causes production of stomach juices and saliva, both of which help break down food properly. Saliva production is especially important because it predigests your food in your mouth before it gets to the stomach allowing for less work for the stomach.
- Chew your food – Try to chew until it is liquid. In grad school we would say 31 times! This is very hard to do but every effort helps. Chewing your food adequately helps breaks it down into smaller particles that make it easier for stomach to break down.
- Eat in a relaxed environment – Try to sit down to eat. Sitting and relaxing helps your increase your parasympathetic tone. The parasympathetic system is about resting and digesting. Resting increases the body's ability to digest. Often we tend to be in a more sympathetic state. The sympathetic system, sometimes considered the opposite of the parasympathetic system, is what allows us to 'run from the tiger'. It shunts blood flow to the muscles and away from the stomach, therefore decreasing digestion. This is why it is important to avoid stressful situations like driving a car while eating.
- Avoid eating in front of the television – When you eat in front of the television you are not focused on your food, leading to less chewing. Also, if you are watching "Walking Dead" you are probably stressed out!
- Practice Gratitude - This increases your parasympathetic tone and allows for a moment to stop and think before "digging in"!