Why is Stress Bad for your Digestion?
What you eat isn’t half as important as how well you digest it. The gut is increasingly being referred to as ‘the second brain’ of the body, and apart from undertaking the activity of digestion, absorption, assimilation and delivery of nutrients from our food, the gut is also connected to our first brain, affecting our thoughts, moods and emotions.
The digestive system shuts down under stress, as the body’s natural instinct is to enter ‘fight or flight mode’, during which digestion is simply not important.
We feel from the gut and the expressions ‘gut instinct’ and ‘gut feeling’ are very apt terms. Whilst serotonin is a neurotransmitter found in the brain, studies show that incredibly high levels of it are produced in the digestive tract, which is why, if the digestive system is in turmoil, we are likely to feel low and agitated. When it is healthy, it has the potential to increase positivity and reduce physical stress. Our ‘two brains’ communicate intimately, and therapies that can help one may also help the other.
For this reason, a healthy gut is essential to living well. It is important to boost the digestion and replenish the gut before loading it with food. In Chinese medicine, we refer to the gut as your ‘digestive fire’ and depending on your constitution, the way you digest food can depend not only on the ingredients you eat but also the temperature, taste and texture of food, the nature of your surroundings and even the way you feel mentally and physically in the moment. For example, you could eat a meal in a cold city whilst feeling stressed, which may make you feel bloated, but you could eat the same meal whilst on holiday, when the weather is warm, whilst feeling relaxed, and you would feel fine, perhaps even great.
Chinese medicine recognises that everyone is an individual and what works for one person may not work for another. It is not about 'healthy' or 'unhealthy' foods - it is knowing which foods work best for your unique constitution. This is what an experienced practitioner can help you to understand.
How Does Acupuncture for Digestion Work
Traditional Chinese Medicine views the stomach and spleen as a cooking pot that breaks down the food that is eaten and turns it into energy and nutrients for the body. The stomach is the cooking pot and the spleen is the digestive fire that warms it up. The stomach cooks and breaks down the food, sending the pure part of food to the spleen to be distributed to the rest of the body and eliminating the waste as faeces and urine. It is important to maintain this digestive fire and too many cold and raw foods can put out the digestive fire, weakening and slowing the digestive system or overconsumption of spicy, hot or rich foods over heat the digestive fire.
Each patients constitution is very different and to find out what foods effect you, a qualified acupuncturist can determine how to best treat you.
Acupuncture is a great way to get more specific answers to your gut problems and have the internal and emotional support needed along the way.
Unfortunately, acupuncture is not a miracle that can heal you without any effort on your part. If it was that way it would be magic - this is not magic, it is science.
Yin Studio offers free 15 minute consultations where you can discuss any particular concerns that you may have and we can work out a treatment plan to suit you.