The Food-Mood Connection: The Intimate, Reciprocal Link Between Digestion And Emotions
We’ve all -to some extent- experienced firsthand the connection between our brain and our stomach. Basic examples are twists and knots before and during a stressful event, butterflies in the stomach when we’re nervous, or a ‘gut’ feeling when we meet someone new.
As a matter of fact, the brain and the gastrointestinal (GI) system are intimately connected — so much so, that they should be viewed as one system. For this reason, the stomach is often referred to as the 'second brain'. It actually contains as many neurons as the spinal cord.
A Harvard Medical School Publication, entitled ‘The Gut-Brain Connection’, states: “The brain has a direct effect on the stomach. For example, the very thought of eating can release the stomach’s juices before food gets there. This connection goes both ways. A troubled intestine can send signals to the brain, just as a troubled brain can send signals to the gut". Therefore, a person’s stomach or intestinal distress can be the cause or the product of anxiety, stress, or depression. Anxiety and depression are considered key contributors to IBS.
An article entitled ‘The Link Between Your Emotions and your Digestion’ on the Chopra.com website states: “The same force that enables you to extract nourishment from food, allows you to extract sustenance from life. When this force is dampened due to emotional upheaval, or just the modern stressors of daily life, it can have a direct effect on our capacity to digest food, as well as our feelings.”
The good news is that, according to Ayurveda, the emotional body can be cleansed pretty much in the same way as the physical body. The process is referred to as “Strotomukha vishodhanam”, and consists in enabling our emotional channels to purify by surrendering to the emotions and allowing them to circulate.
Rather than being afraid to feel them, -and supressing them as a consequence- if we accept our emotions and allow them to flow through us, they will follow their natural course and ultimately get processed and digested.
How To 'Digest' Your Emotions
When we eat our food, for instance, we don't have to give it instructions on how to behave in the digestive system. We consume it and our body naturally digests it. The same principle applies to our emotions.
If we can just observe and feel the emotion, it will evolve and flow, and naturally reach completion. We can learn to let go of what we no longer need (eliminate it) and hold on to what is useful to us (nutrition, wisdom).
How Do I Keep My Digestive System Healthy And Stay Free from Physical And Emotional Indigestion?
1- Avoid eating on the move, or when rushed or stressed.
2- Refrain from overeating. A folk tale from Japan says: “75% of the food you eat fulfils your nutritional needs and the remaining 25% goes into the doctor’s pocket.” There is certainly some wisdom in these tales! Always stop eating before you feel completely full.
3- Chew your food thoroughly and slowly, and minimise chat and mobile phone use while eating.
4- Drink lots of still water, but only a small quantity during meals, if you must.
5- Stick to a high-fibre diet and consume both soluble and insoluble fibre.6- Be aware of proper food combination.
7- Avoid, fatty, spicy and heavy foods, especially during emotional times. Stick to simple, easily digestible foods (steamed or grilled vegetables and fish, brown rice, tofu).
8- Be grateful for the food and thankful for the nourishment you receive.
9- Meditate. The Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura), located between the navel and sternum, greatly affects the digestive function. It is also the seat of emotions and can create havoc when out of balance.
An overactive Manipura is said to result in conceit and loudness, being judgemental, stubborn, demanding, a perfectionist who’s sometimes emotional in the extreme.
Conversely, people with a depleted and underactive solar plexus chakra are often depressed, confused, lacking in self-confidence and extremely concerned with what others think of them. Their digestion and assimilation are generally poor.
Having a healthy digestion requires addressing both the psychological and physical issues causing the problems.
Do you suffer from digestive health issues? Do you have bloating problems? Then you need to download our ebook, Zen Secrets to a healthy and flat tummy! It is crammed with practical and easy-to-implement advice on how to boost your digestive health and avoid bloating on a day-to-day basis.
PS: There are a number of solar plexus chakra healing and balancing meditations on Youtube.
By Rand Khalil
You simply cannot be healthy and energetic when your digestive system and elimination process are malfunctioning. Fortunately, bloating is not a symptom that needs to be permanent and following the simple tips above will help boost your digestive health and drastically reduce bloating in your daily life.
Stress, anxiety, anger and all negative emotions release toxins in the body. More
"A great life is born in the soul, grown in the mind and lived from the heart."