I thought I would start a new series on Tuesdays called Tuesday Takeaway! Every Tuesday I will post a simple health tip with a brief explanation on the benefit it can have on your overall health. I challenge you to take this simple piece of information and put it into practice in your daily life…you never know what good may come from it!
Take three deep breaths before each meal.
How many of you rush through your meals, eat on the run or snack while standing over the counter? I know I’m guilty of this. We live in a fast-paced world where it’s easy to prioritize other people and things before ourselves. The problem is that in order for our food to properly digest, we must be in a parasympathetic, or relaxed, state because digestion actually begins in the brain. What happens in the brain when you start to eat will affect every part of your digestion, from consumption to elimination.
You know how you start to salivate when you smell something amazing cooking on the stove? Or when you sit down in front of a meal, hungry and ready to dig in? The brain triggers the salivary glands to begin producing saliva which contains an enzyme called salivary amylase. This enzyme starts the chemical breakdown of carbohydrates in the mouth. So, when we rush to eat, we do not allow the brain to stimulate the production of this needed enzyme. Therefore, carbohydrates are not broken down as they should be, but still continue through the digestive tract, creating issues further down.
In the small intestine, pancreatic enzymes will be unable to complete the digestion of the starches, and over time, these undigested food particles will wear down the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream, eliciting an inappropriate immune response. In the large intestines, bacteria will feed on these large, undigested food particles, resulting in gas, bloating, bowel irregularities or an overgrowth of bad bacteria. Eek!
Also, know that if you eat in a stressed state every once in a while, it’s okay. It happens to the best of us. But if you notice digestive discomfort the next time you rush through a meal, take it as a helpful reminder to slow down in the future. There is a lot more that goes into proper digestive function, but if three deep breaths before a meal could help, then why not give it a shot?
Let me know if you try out this week’s Tuesday Takeaway! Three deep breaths…you got this.