Mindful eating and the gut
Mindful eating and the intestines
In the previous journals, we talked about the microbiome and discussed the diversity of the microbiome. We now know that diversity is necessary to stay healthy and that stress, bad food, or medication can influence this. Stress has a major impact on the health of the microbiome in the gut. In this journal, we will discuss the impact of mindful eating on gut health.
When we talk about mindful eating, we mean eating without doing anything other than focusing on our food. Often, when we’re eating, we’re busy with other things, like watching television, scrolling on our phone, or working. All this seems super efficient, but we cannot enjoy our food to the fullest. Besides this, we also chew unconsciously and thus probably for too short of time. Mindful eating also ensures that we are aware of what we put in our body and are therefore less likely to eat (or overeat) too many unhealthy products.
On average we spend 60 minutes per day eating and drinking. 24 of these 60 minutes we distract ourselves from the actual process of mindfully eating (USDA, 2019).
Our 5 Mindful eating tip (print them out and put next to your dining table)
Our digestion starts in the mouth. For example, the breakdown of food starts in the mouth due to the presence of enzymes in saliva. However, these enzymes do take some time to do this. Chewing sufficiently is also important to better absorb nutrients in the further digestion process.
Emotions and food
How we feel when we eat has an effect on the mind-gut connection. You have probably experienced that our bowels can act up when we feel stress. This reaction has not only the effect that you have to go to the toilet; it also has an effect on the diversity and resilience of our intestines. Now we also know that this is precisely necessary for a healthy microbiome. A healthy microbiome has an effect on our mood as optimal resistance, so you see that this is a vicious circle.
So, when we feel strong emotions or are stressed, this not only has an effect on our feelings, but also on our body. We only know a small part of this fascinating story. Still, more and more research shows that when we feel angry, sad, or stressed, it has an effect on our microbiome. Then, even if we still eat as healthy as possible, if we do not do anything about these feelings, our microbiome can still become unbalanced.
Besides that, mindful eating makes us aware of what we eat and how we do it. Mindfulness therefore also helps to increase our intuition. It teaches us to listen better to our body and we feel more conscious of how our body reacts to what we eat.
There are also studies that measure the effect of relaxing activities (meditation, yoga) on intestinal diseases. The signals show that one can withstand the pain of inflammation in the intestines with more resilience. However, more research needs to be done on what this does in the longer term. It also emerges that meditation can ensure that we are more in touch with our feelings, can look at problems differently, and deal better with our own emotions. All these benefits also have an effect on lowering our stress hormone. There again, that vicious circle.
Now more than ever, it is time to reconnect again to our senses and become mindful in nourishing our body.
Love & Light,
- Hamrick, K. S., Andrews, M., Guthrie, J., Hopkins, D., & McClelland, K. (2011). How much time do Americans spend on food? (No. 1476-2019-2786).
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- Mayer, E. (2018). The mind-gut connection: how the hidden conversation within our bodies impacts our mood, our choices, and our overall health. HarperCollins.
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