SYMPATHETIC STATE, "FIGHT OR FLIGHT"
When we are in a sympathetic nervous system state, we are in our instinctually human nature of preparing to defend ourselves or run away from danger (ie the bear, or now stress of work, home, relationships, etc). We put ourselves in this state when we are driving, arguing, stressed out, reading, watching TV, or walking. The sympathetic nervous state puts us on alert: eyes dilate, heart rate and respiration increases, blood vessels constrict, we perspire, goosebumps rise, and blood pressure increases. Moreover, gut motility and urinary output are put on HOLD. So when you are not paying attention to your food, you are not digesting! That leaves food to be improperly digested, enzyme release becomes dysfunctional, and nutrients are not absorbed efficiently. Thus, in time, we create a chronic picture of nutrient deficiency which eventually leads to physical symptoms.
PARASYMPATHETIC STATE, "REST & DIGEST"
Digestion works optimally when we are in a parasympathetic state. This is when we are completely present with our food. When we prepare and eat our food in this state, gastrin is released. Gastrin is a hormone that tonifies organ musculature, secretes HCl (acid needed in the stomach), and releases digestive enzymes from the stomach and pancreas. These are all essential steps to ensuring proper function of your digestive organs and getting the most nutrition out of your food.
HOW DO YOU STIMULATE GASTRIN?
1. Drink 1 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar in a bit of water 10 minutes before meals to stimulate acid and enzyme release for proper nutrient absorption.
2. Say a prayer. Give thanks for your food, to who picked or produced it, to whom made it possible that you are eating it (the farmers, the cooks, the Divine). This 30 seconds to 1 min allows your body to know to shift into a parasympathetic state.
3. Take 5-10 deep belly breaths before your first bite to calm the nervous system and prepare for digestion.
4. SMELL your food.
5. CHEW YOUR FOOD - each bite should be chewed 31 times until it is a nice, creamy paste.
6. Take time to SIT and eat your food. LOOK at your food. No TV, no reading, no distractions.
7. The easiest way to accomplish many of the above- Cook your own food!
Questions? Contact Dr. Birr at Origins Natural Medicine to discuss how to balance your nervous system and optimize digestion.