Did you know that it takes on average 24-72 hours for our food to be completely digested from the moment we put it in our mouth? Digestion is a lengthy process that spans our entire body. Because this process is so complex, we need to look closely at what part is being affected to best fight dysfunction when it occurs.
If we are stressed (stuck in sympathetic mode)-eating in the car, on the run, rushed, short lunch time, etc.-we are not going to be able to properly digest our food. When we are in sympathetic mode, our body is essentially in survival mode, so it does not release the proper digestive enzymes and hormones needed to digest our food the best. One example of incomplete digestion is the role played by women’s hormones. If we are not eating consistently, or have large gaps between eating, our body can perceive that as “starvation mode” which brings it into a sympathetic, or survival, state. This in turn effects hormone production. If the body is perceivably “starving”, it will not release the proper levels of estrogen and progesterone to be able to reproduce, therefore affecting our entire menstrual cycle.
Another factor to consider in poor digestion is bowel movements. A large percentage of patient’s I see struggle with constipation, which is having less than one bowel movement per day. If our bodies are not able to finish the digestive process through having a bowel movement, it will struggle to do its best when you first eat the food.
Here are a few ways to improve digestion:
- Focus on normal bowel movements
- Slow down
-Entering a parasympathetic state will help your body process your food better.
- Chew your food
-Shoot for 32 chews/bite
- Stay hydrated
-Make sure you are hydrated, but not while eating. Water intake can dilute the digestive enzymes working to break down your food.
- Proper supplementation
- Get adjusted
-Each segment has different spinal nerves that it connects to. For example, dysfunction at T6 could cause heartburn and dysfunction. Dysfunction at L1 could result in constipation. Improving the brain/body connection will help improve digestion!
- Stimulate the vagus nerve
–Vagus Nerve is responsible for digestion, stimulates parasympathetic nervous system, increases bowel motility and increases glandular secretion.
-Dr. Sophie Mills, Chiropractor