Think about your favorite food. Whatever it is, picture it in your mind.
Think about the smells and tastes associated with that food. Is it crunchy or smooth? Salty or sweet? How do you feel when you eat it? Does it warm you up? Do the flavors explode in your mouth?
If you did that little experiment, you might actually be salivating right now. That’s because—just by thinking about food!—your brain has kicked off the process of digestion. And that’s just one small part of a process that includes many different organs, enzymes and bacteria.
Digestion is an essential piece of our overall health and wellness. It’s something most of us probably don’t think about on a daily basis. But digestion is more than just breaking down food. It’s a complex process that can affect our physical, mental and emotional health.
Here are 5 things you might not know about digestion:
Your whole body depends on your digestive system. Every cell in your body is relying on the digestive process for the nutrients it needs. That’s why digestion is so foundational to overall health. As an integrative therapist, I always look at digestion when there’s a health concern. Chances are good that digestion is playing a role.
Digestion starts in your brain. When you get hungry and start thinking about eating, your body will start producing saliva. Saliva contains digestive enzymes that break down your food and allow your body to absorb nutrients.
Stress affects the digestive process. If you eat while in a state of stress, it leads to poor digestion. That’s because, instead of focusing on producing those important digestive enzymes, your brain is focused on the stressor. This is why I always recommend eating in a relaxed state, away from your work environment, free from distractions.
Chewing is crucial to digestion. The process of chewing, combined with the enzymes produced by your saliva, is what breaks down your food into absorbable nutrients. You should be chewing your food almost to a liquid state before swallowing. Not chewing your food enough can lead to bloating, acid reflux, gas, and other digestive issues.
Stomach acid is good for you. Your stomach produces hydrochloric acid (HCL), which kills bacteria and parasites. HCL also breaks down proteins so they can be absorbed by the small intestine. Fun fact! Your stomach acid is so powerful it would digest your stomach itself, if not for the thick layer of mucus your stomach has to protect itself.
Ready to Improve Your Digestion?
When digestion is off, it can cause serious problems. If you’re struggling with bloating, acid reflux, constipation, or other digestive issues, it’s time to address what could be going wrong with your digestion.
Ready to get started right away? Download my free guide, 10 Steps to a Healthy & Happy Gut, here.
The content found on Integrative Counseling and Nutrition Consulting platform is not intended to be a substitute for professional therapeutic advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your psychiatrist, therapist or other qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a mental health condition.