9.1.20 Malfunction! Brain and Mouth

How can the process of the brain and mouth go wrong?

First all we need to be in a relaxed state in order for the digestion process to work like it should. This is called the parasympathetic state - sympathetic being fight or flight mode. When we are stressed, the brain doesn’t receive and send signals like it should. Certain muscles might not move food along, blood flow may be going to other areas of the body, HCl may be reduced as well as enzymes, hormones and other contributing factors. The necessary elements for digestion are going to be lacking because the brain is too busy trying to survive whatever is stressing us out, such as commuting, work, the news (please do not eat and watch the news!), social media, the to-do list, an overdue assignment…

Secondly, if we chew our food too quickly, the brain doesn’t have enough time to register what enzymes are needed. It then can’t trigger the production of saliva needed to spread those enzymes around and get mixed into our food thoroughly. If salivary amylase hasn’t been able to start breaking down our carbs while in our mouth, our pancreatic amylase is not going to be able to catch up! Halfway digested carbs are going to be sitting in our intestines feeding bad bacteria like candida.

These things also should make us realize that brain injuries, strokes, and neck injuries can be part of digestion problems. The vagus nerve leaves our brain on the back, right side of our skulls travels directly to our digestion organs. “The vagus nerve carries an extensive range of signals from the digestive system and organs to the brain and vice versa.” (Breit S, Kupferberg A, Rogler G, Hasler G. Vagus Nerve as Modulator of the Brain-Gut Axis in Psychiatric and Inflammatory Disorders. Front Psychiatry. 2018;9:44. Published 2018 Mar 13. doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00044)

Taking a few minutes to SEE our food, SMELL our food, be thankful for the nourishment we are about to receive from it, can all help us get into the moment. Take a few deep, slow belly breaths before eating and then take small bites and chew thoroughly. This is one of the simplest, most impactful ways to improve your digestion.