“Calm down everyone, we’ve got it under control!” A phrase you’ve probably heard before – Maybe in an airport waiting for your luggage or maybe it’s been used for an intense circumstance like at a hospital!

That anxious feeling you’ve felt is often referred to as “flight or fight.” This is a response from our sympathetic nervous system. As a matter of fact, there are two types of states our bodies can be in – the sympathetic state and the parasympathetic state. Each play a role in how our bodies react to things. Let’s take a look at how they react to our diet!

Sympathetic state
Your sympathetic nervous system is what causes the “flight or fight” response that allows our bodies to adapt to stress or anxiety. When your body is in a sympathetic state it continuously releases adrenaline into your bloodstream. When the body is in a sympathetic state, it treats food as a toxin and stops the digestive tract from working, making it harder to absorb and process the food and can lead to poor digestion, weight gain, gas, bloating and more.

Examples of eating in a sympathetic state include: Eating while you’re driving, eating after a stressful work situation, eating while talking on the phone, eating while depressed or anxious, eating at a sporting event, eating while arguing with someone, eating when you are so hungry that you eat too fast or eating fast because you are late for work, school, appointment, etc.

Parasympathetic state
Your parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for relaxation, repairing and recharging your body. In this state you are able to breakdown, absorb and digest food better. The absolute best way to get your body into a parasympathetic state is to practice deep breathing!

It’s pretty hard to stay relaxed in today’s society between finances, traffic, work pressures, social media negativity, etc. Practice the art of deep breathing before you eat to help your body get into its parasympathetic state. Other things that can help you while eating include avoiding juices, soda, energy drinks, having 5 small meals a day and chewing your food/eating slowly.

How do you “de-stress?” Let us know in the comments below!

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