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Rest and Digest ……. Your Road-Map to a Healthier Gut

With Jacqui Hagidimitriou, Integrative Pharmacist

I recently spent a week away on a business trip to the beautiful Western Australia. Travel, for me, is always exciting, to see different towns, landscapes and experience local cuisine. Yet, while my mind is excited, my gut is often a little nervous…..

A little voice appears from my belly:

“Will she feed me at the right time?” “Will she be able to move about normally?” “Will she even be able to access a nice toilet when necessary?”

Now, this gut sounds super fussy, but I’m sure some of you can relate!

It is a common problem for many that changes to not just the diet, but also sleep patterns and movement can cause havoc for our tantrum-my tummies! This is because digestion is as much about our nervous system and the environment surrounding our eating pattern, as it is about our food choices.

Fight or Flight vs Rest and Digest

In a previous blog post, I talked about the fight or flight mechanism of stress. Opposite to that is our ability to rest and digest. Often in our fast-paced lives we eat without thinking and quickly go to our next task. However, the food we have consumed has a much longer journey ahead. What we do throughout the day can impact on whether this food has a nice uneventful journey through our digestive tract, or whether it will cause, let’s say, some turbulence along the way.

Our body will place digestion lower on the priority list when we are under stress and this can impact on the speed and smoothness of the movement of the intestines, which slowly move food through its long tubes, to extract as much nutrients as possible. In the short term, we can survive with our digestive systems not working at their best. In the long term, it can cause much discomfort and lower our quality of life.

Road-sign, what Road-sign?

It’s no coincidence that the call to evacuate the transportation line at the end of the gut occurs more strongly after eating a meal.This is called the postprandial reflex and if obeyed, helps ensure there is enough room on board for all “passengers” as the next lot of food comes through. This signal is one that I am often teaching people to become familiar with again, especially if they are prone to constipation.

Keep in mind, it is not easy to take action on this signal if we are eating our meals in the car, or multi-tasking with the first high-pressured task of the day! Like a cheeky child, our gut may go silent for a while if its signals are ignored, but as all parents know, if there’s silence for too long, there’s trouble brewing. So, keep your gut happy, to keep you happy, by listening to its cues, even when on holiday! (Don’t ignore the signs!)

To learn more from Jacqui about digestion and stress, you can join her 7pm on the 27th November at The Clinic Hub for a fun, interactive evening “Treat Yourself to a Stress-Less Christmas”. Phone 3289 1559 for more details! Otherwise, she is available for private consultation, in the comfort of The Clinic Hub.

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