Digestion and elimination is quite the miracle.
The way a vast array of digestive mechanisms work together and in sync is the result of millions of years of evolution.
Some experts and coaches recommend that our digestive system needs the respect it deserves while we eat.
And I am one of them.
From the oesophagus, our food enters the gut and the small intestine.
Imagine thousands of fans at a sports stadium, all doing ‘the wave’.
Your oesophagus moves in a similar way, with an undulatory motion that eases food from one end to the other.
This work is performed automatically and autonomously: once piece of food is one-third of the way down your esophagus, you have no conscious control over the muscles that push the food along its journey.
Even if you were to do a handstand, the oesophagus would continue moving the food toward the stomach. It’s that effective.
This is work that your esophagus has mastered: it’s been doing it since you were a baby in your mother’s womb, swallowing half a liter of amniotic fluid every day.
From the oesophagus, the piece of food descends into the stomach.
There, the food is processed for a few hours, until it is fully broken up by gastric fluid.
At this point, the food has been broken into pieces approximately 0.2 millimeters in size.
All this information probably makes it obvious why digestion is an ‘unconscious’ activity.
Who would want to spend two hours consciously breaking down a piece of food?
As new food continues to be swallowed during a meal, your stomach expands to accommodate.
It’s so flexible that it’s very difficult to eat more than it can handle.
Interestingly, emotions can have the opposite effect on the stomach.
Stress and anxiety can cause your stomach to contract and you’ll find yourself losing your appetite.
But these emotions can also cause other problems in the stomach, with the gastric fluids eating away at your stomach lining and creating ulcers.
When everything goes smoothly, though, the tiny pieces of food get moved from the stomach to the small intestine.
This connection is made by a small area called the pylorus, which helps push the food along.
When the food hits the small intestine, more complex amazing processes happen.
Mindful eating is a way you can consciously help your digestive system function optimally.
Eating in a parasympathetic state helps ensure all the above mentioned functions work optimally and feeding yourself mindfully and avoiding stress inducing situations (eating while at your desk working) can really change how you feel and a prevent a visit to the doctor.