HOW POOR DIGESTION CAN AFFECT MENTAL HEALTH| AN EASTERN MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE

The foods that we put into our bodies can either nourish or deplete us of our energy. Make no mistakes. What we feed our bodies can have a huge affect on how well we feel in our minds. I can’t count how many times eating too much junk foods has led to a depressive episode for me. And it wasn’t just because of the guilt of my poor food choices, but because junk foods actually have a negative physiological impact on the body. This impact in Eastern Medicine is known as energy stagnation. Firstly, good health always begins with good digestion. Under optimal conditions our bodies are great at digesting real foods found in nature that contain real nutrition. On the other hand, junk foods that contain excess sugar and unhealthy ingredients like propylene glycol, sodium nitrates, high fructose corn syrup, msg, artificial colors, and other harmful chemicals, are hard for our bodies to digest, if they even digest them at all. 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE BODY CANNOT PROCESS SOMETHING, AND IT’S STILL BEING FED MORE AND MORE STUFF THAT IT CANT PROCESS?

Well, let’s ask ourselves what happens when a drain gets clogged, and we’ve got our answer. Too much junk gets backed up in the drain and it begins to impede the proper flow of liquid throughout the drain. Likewise, when toxins build up in the body, they begin to impede the proper flow of energy throughout the body. This blockage of energy also extends to the mind since the mind and the body are both intricately connected. Energy stagnation is ultimately the root cause behind all illness in the body and in the mind. In other words, if our energy was allowed to flow freely like how it was meant to, we would be free from all pain and disease. Unfortunately, most people today suffer from energy stagnation to one degree or another. The most common cause of energy stagnation, and the most simplest one to fix, is poor digestion.

The experts were really onto something when they said that good health begins with good digestion. They also weren’t far off when they figured out that gut health has a lot to do with brain health. So much so that some experts have now dubbed our gut as our second brain. I can’t even count how many times I’ve spiraled into a depression, seemingly out of nowhere, only to realize that prior to my downfall my digestion was impaired because I was eating the wrong types of foods. I’m sure we’ve all felt down before, with no apparent rhyme or reason as to the cause of our blues. The next time we feel this way, we should think back to what we’ve been putting into our bodies, and maybe we’ll begin to realize a connection. There have actually been studies done on mentally ill people that have proven that eating certain foods like wheat, dairy, too much sugar, and junk foods have produced a worsening in their symptoms. It’s no coincidence!

Eastern Medicine has a vastly different view of our digestive system as opposed to Western medicine. In particular, in Eastern medicine, our spleen system is responsible for our digestion. But since Eastern Medicine recognizes the connection between the mind and the body,  they’ve realized that not only is the spleen responsible for the digestion of our foods, but also the digestion of our emotions, and in fact, our digestive organs are responsible for digesting ALL stimulus that we take in from our environment. In other words, when we eat foods that are hard for our bodies to process, we also make it harder for our minds to digest and process our emotions. This is one reason why Eastern Medicine strongly discourages eating while having strong emotions like anger, sadness, and anxiety. Our bodies simply cannot process the foods and the strong emotions at the same time, and so digestion will inevitably become impaired.

If we want our energy to flow, if we want to digest our emotions well by letting in the good thoughts that nourish us, while letting go of the thoughts that do not, then we must implore that same attitude to our bodies by allowing in whats nourishing for our bodies and keeping out what’s not. It’s that simple. Eating foods that promote digestion instead of hindering it, in addition to practicing good eating habits, will have a positive effect on not only the body but also the mind. Ultimately, digestion is digestion. Whether we’re trying to digest our food or our emotions. Likewise, indigestion in one system (the body) is indigestion in another system (the mind). If we want free free flowing energy and better health in mind, body, and spirit, then a good place to start is by eating the right types of foods for our bodies. And let’s be honest, junk foods or foods with suspect ingredients are rarely ever the right types of foods. Just saying! We are what we eat! Or better yet, we are what we digest. 

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