The digestive system has always held an interest for me. In fact, when I was doing my teacher training in reflexology back in the 1980’s, I got to pick a couple of systems that I would like to teach. My first choice, without any thought, was the digestive system.
I have been fascinated since my early 20’s on how what we put into our bodies affects not only our physical, but emotional and mental health. I’ve formally studied nutrition and herbalism, as well as many thought processes that explore the effect of mind and emotion on our body’s ability to stay healthy.
In the simplest of terms, the digestive system is tasked with receiving all input handed it, whether thoughts, images, sounds, experiences or food; breaking those into forms that the body can assimilate; delivering those nutrients to the cells; and discarding whatever is not needed.
Things get complicated because we know so little about our own individual digestive systems, other than the general mechanics.
Many of us have food allergies, sensitivities and/or intolerances – and do not even suspect it. We don’t know what our particular metabolism thrives best on, so we eat what tastes good to us or what the latest food fad is, never questioning the chronic acid reflux, flatulence or constipation that we live with.
Add to poor food choices, an agribusiness hell-bent on making as much money as possible off our gullets, eating too much, too fast or too late in the day and you can already see the signs pointing towards disaster.
Although it is beyond the scope of my license and this post to discuss how you should eat, (Do you know there are over 40 dietary eating plans out there all purporting to be THE way to eat – and lose weight, of course?) I would like to share a few ideas that may bode you well over this holiday season.
* Chew food completely. And along with that, chew and eat slowly. It’s not a race. Taste your food. Enjoy it.
* Eat food – real food, in its most whole state as possible – not food-like substances.
* When you eat, eat. Don’t watch television, read a magazine or fool around on your device. Ideal way to eat is to share meals with family and friends. Talk, laugh and eat.
* Drink a cup of strong peppermint tea before going to bed. Great digestive aid.
* Indulge in this holiday season and all the once-a-year tastes and treats it has to offer. Don’t deny yourself; just be mindful of how much you are eating.
* Spend about 10 minutes when getting into bed each evening to support your digestive system’s attempts to digest and assimilate all that you’ve taken in.
Massage some lotion or butter into your feet – butters with essential oils of ginger and/or orange are good for digestion.
Thumb-walk the arches of your feet, between the pelvic and diaphragm lines, longitudinally and horizontally. Stop and gently hold any points that get your attention.
Work the Vagus nerve reflex, the longest cranial nerve ending in our abdomen and the most important nerve in our parasympathetic system. It helps to reduce inflammation (Irritable Bowel Syndrome anyone?), acts as the walkie-talkie between your brain and your gut, and generally aids in digestion.
* Get a good night’s sleep, so you wake refreshed to continue with the festivities the next day. Afterall, this time of year comes only once. Enjoy it!