I had the opportunity to attend a workshop by the Hormone Health Coach, Maria Rafferty. As a fellow acupuncturist I love her Chinese Medicinal approach to health, so when this workshop came up in Belfast I jumped at the chance to attend!
Maria has kindly given me permission to share some of the info on digestion from her workshop… I hope you find it as fascinating as I do!
Signs that your digestive system is not working optimally;
• Skin problems
• Constipation – less than one bowel movement a day
• Loose stools
• Incomplete bowel movement
• Low energy / fatigue after eating
• Bad breath
• Difficulty loosing weight
What can we do to support our digestive system?
* Eat REAL food, avoiding foods that have been processed or have chemicals added
* The digestive system works most efficiently when it is WARM, so eat food that is no cooler than room temperature, especially in the morning. Avoid those breakfast smoothies!
* Don’t eat on the run. As your body speeds up the digestive system slows down.
* Chinese Medicine places as much emphasis on how we eat as it does on what we eat. The recommendation is to avoid eating when your mood is not good, when you are distracted or focused on something else. Often people eat at their desk, or while on their phone, the body is using energy to process and digest information, rather than the food it is consuming.
* Don’t overeat. Stop eating before you’re full and in doing so leave some room for the mechanical part of digestion. Think of a washing machine – you leave some room for the movement.
* Smell your food before you begin to eat, this gets digestive juices flowing in the mouth and stomach, preparing for better digestion.
* Chew your food. The more we chew our food the more we break it down, creating an increased surface area for the digestive enzymes to work on. Chewing also increases the lubrication of food, enabling the digestive organs to process it.
* Breathe. Do you know your colon moves every time you breathe? If you take a full expansive (deep abdominal) breath, it is possible for the colon to move up to 10cms! This movement improves the movement of waste matter through the colon.
Stress effects the digestive system.
Do you often have these feelings?
• “I have butterflies in my tummy.”
• “I have knots in my stomach.”
• “I felt my tummy sink.”
These are all key ‘stress signals’ that our digestive organs use to alert us to feelings of stress. The hormones released when you are stressed signal the body to store fat, in ‘fight or flight’ mode, so it is key to reduce stress when we address how we hold body fat and how we cope with our day to day lifestyles.
There is so much more to learn about digestive health and especially the links to stress, but I hope some of these tips and thoughts resonate with you, they sure have with me!