What Are You REALLY Digesting?November 15, 2017
The importance of gut health is a topic very near and dear to my heart, as I have been a longtime sufferer of chronic digestive issues. With the discovery that 80% of our immune system and up to 80% of serotonin production is found in the gut, the health world is finally beginning to recognize how crucial the gut is to our overall health. Because of this, it is so important that we keep our digestive system in tiptop shape, which goes far beyond what we’re physically digesting. Don’t get me wrong, improving our physical digestion of food is extremely important, but many people fail to focus on all the other things they’re digesting on a daily basis. Whether you are someone who suffers from digestive disorders or not, it is so important to look deeper into what you’re digesting in all aspects of your life : What emotions and thoughts are you digesting? What news or social media are you taking in? What about your relationships? Are they positive, or toxic?
There is no denying the connection between state of mind and digestion. Think of a time you felt scared or anxious. Oftentimes this results in feeling like there is pit in your stomach, or you have to make frequent trips to the bathroom. Studies show that between 50 and 90 percent of people who seek treatment for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) also suffer from anxiety and depression. The colon is partially controlled by the nervous system, which is also responsible for the stress response. Therefore, if you are having physical digestive issues, it is very likely that it is the result of not being able to digest something mentally or emotionally in your life. If we are busy digesting toxic information and negative emotions, then this disrupts our ability to digest actual food and it just sits there. The good news, however, is that there are many delicious foods that can naturally reduce stress and anxiety, such as avocados, salmon, and even chocolate! For the full list of anxiety-combatting foods and their benefits, check out this great article. Whether you suffer from digestive problems or not, I encourage you to spend today focusing on all of the things you’re digesting. Is it overwhelmingly positive? If not, what can you do about it? A few suggestions I have are:
- Minimize your exposure to negative information by limiting consumption of news. You should still keep yourself informed about what is going on in the world, but try not to use a news outlet that is overly sensationalistic and leaves you feeling anxious.
- Cleanse all of your social media accounts. Whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat, remove anyone who engenders a negative emotion or thought in you.
- Acknowledge and work through negative emotions as they arise rather than suppressing them. Pause and take an inventory of what is going on. Ask yourself why you’re feeling a certain way. Many times negative feelings arise from negative thoughts, so if we reframe our thoughts, we can lessen the feeling attached to it. One way to help do this is to pause and ask yourself if the story is true. Then,ask yourself if it is really true. Chances are the answer is ‘no,’ because nothing in life is unequivocally true. This stems from the work by Byron Katie, and has really helped me discern the true facts in my life from the stories in my mind.
You can’t control the negativity that arises in the world around you, but you can actively choose what you expose yourself to, and how to respond to it. Just because the world outside can be unstable and stressful, doesn’t mean that your inner landscape needs to look the same way. It’s all a matter of digestion. So, take a closer look at your physical health, and if you feel that pit in your stomach, scope out your environment and see how you can limit the negative information you are absorbing. Just as you choose the food that you digest, you can choose which information you digest as well.
In Good Health,