Stress and the impact on your digestion

When you experience stress related symptoms, you may not think it impacts on your ability to eat and digest food. Yet digestion starts in the brain. From the moment you see, smell, and taste your food it sends a signal for your stomach to start the digestive process.

Your brain also receives signals from the environment you are exposed to which also impacts within your body. If that environment is negative, then your brain will send a signal for your body to respond to prepare for fight or flight mode. This includes shutting down the digestive system and other non-essential functions to respond to the stress response.

As a result, your body cannot digest food when your body when you try and eat during a stress response. Instead, you may overeat or rush through your meal not giving your digestive system time to absorb as many nutrients and your brain forgets that you have eaten at all.

In turn you consume more calories, crave more food and your body becomes nutrient deficient.

It is important to engage the relaxation response for mealtimes. Healthy digestion begins in your brain. Upon sight, smell and taste, good enzymes are released to help you to digest your food.

When you take time to chew your food slowly, you not only savour the taste it reduces the amount of work your stomach has to do to break down the meal.

A food journal is a useful tool to help you identify your eating patterns and behaviours. You can record how you feel before during and after each meal and what the triggers are for reaching for that mid afternoon snack.

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