I'm sure you've heard it hundreds of times: eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is a key ticket to wellness.
Yes, this is true, and I certainly prescribe to this sentiment, but what is often overlooked is how to eat. In my book, how to eat is just as, if not more important, than what to eat. Here's why:
In order for our body's to get nutrients from the food we eat, we have to be in a relaxed state, also called parasympathetic state. A parasympathetic state helps make saliva, stomach acid, and digestive juices, and helps food flow through the GI tract. Human mealtime rituals have long supported a relaxed environment for eating, but many of these rituals have been eroding over the years.
Due to busier schedules and cultural norms, we eat in a rush, in front of a TV or computer screen, on the way to work, or standing over the counter. These types of eating environments turn the nervous system away from a relaxed state and instead shift to "fight or flight", also known as a sympathetic state.
Eating while in a sympathetic state can cause a number of problems with digestion and troubles down the line with the immune system. Food that is not properly digested leads to inflammation both in the gut and elsewhere in the body. Luckily, transitioning to a parasympathetic state is as easy as it is helpful. Here are some tips:
These habits are much easier to do when others around you do the same. Inspire your loved ones to give it a try!