Breathe Before You Eat!
How often do you take a moment to relax before a meal?
By Carrie Demers, MD
Our nervous system has two ways of responding to the world: the fight-or-flight (sympathetic) response and the rest-and-digest (parasympathetic) response. When we rush through our day, worry constantly, or cling to negative mental states, our nervous system gets stuck in the fight-or-flight mode. But when we feel safe and relaxed, the parasympathetic response switches on and our heart rate drops, respiration slows and deepens, and blood flows to the core of the body—promoting healthy immunity and efficient digestion.
By ensuring that your nervous system is in rest-and-digest mode before you eat, you can help your body digest the foods you eat (and avoid the negative side effects of poor digestion such as bloating, acid reflux, and indigestion). The easiest way to do this is to breathe diaphragmatically. So, just before you eat, take three to four deep diaphragmatic breaths—then enjoy!
Director of the Himalayan Institute’s Total Health Center, Carrie Demers, MD, blends modern medicine with ayurveda, homeopathy, nutrition, herbal medicine, hatha yoga, and massage.