Improving the digestion of my patients is the most important thing I can do, to assist them in regaining or maintain health. This five-part series will explore all that is DIGESTION. Part 1 will focus on our mental state, and how it affects digestion and assimilation of the food we eat. This is by far the most important concept in digestion. Parts 2-5 will focus on the stomach, small intestine, liver, and gallbladder, and finally, the colon.

The most important component affecting our digestion takes place even before the food hits our lips. It’s our state of mind. It’s the mood we’re in – before, during and after we eat. Our mental state dictates how we digest and assimilate the food we consume – from the mouth to the rectum.

There are two nervous systems. One we can control and one that is automatic. They are the sympathetic or FIGHT-FLIGHT nervous system and the parasympathetic or REST-DIGEST nervous system. The fight-flight is activated or dominant under times of stress. Driving in traffic, deadlines, anger, work, exercise, anything that is not REST or CALM. Every single digestive process is reduced under these conditions. Saliva, enzymes, stomach acid, bile, intestinal motility, blood flow to digestive organs, assimilation, gut immune function, gut neurotransmitter production, and probiotic growth are all reduced.

Gastritis, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, gas, ulcers, reflux, allergies… can all be attributed to eating while in a sympathetic dominant mode

Here are examples of eating while in the Fight-Flight mode:

  • Eating while driving. Even worse, while in traffic. Even worse, while in traffic on the phone or listening to the news on the radio
  • Rushing while eating
  • Standing and eating
  • Multitasking and eating
  • Eating while watching TV – yes, TV

The parasympathetic (Rest-Digest) nervous system comes to the rescue.  

When we are calm, there is no perceived threat, the parasympathetic system is dominant. Blood and nerve impulses efficiently travel, to and from, all of the digestive organs. Food can be broken down and assimilated the way it was intended to be. Combined with a nutrient dense diet, we give ourselves the best chance at producing every chemical we need for proper health, detoxification, elimination, and repair.

It’s not difficult to be healthy. It’s not difficult to have a happy tummy. It’s not difficult to regain health. All it takes is for us to calm down, turn off, and stop rushing – at least while we eat. For best results, one hour before and after eating.

Here is an ideal scenario for proper digestion and assimilation. Get as close to this scenario as you can for increased health, longevity and vibrant energy. It will correct many GI related issues as well. I know it may be hard, but we only have one go around this lifetime. If you want the party to last, you need to put some time and effort into your body. Only you can do this for yourself.

stress free eating and Digestion

Here are examples of how to improve digestion via the Rest-Digest mode:

  • Eat in a soothing environment – home and away.
  • Show gratitude and give thanks for the nourishment that you about to feed every cell in your body
  • Chew your food slowly and thoroughly
  • Really taste your food and experience what you are eating
  • Rest after you eat. It’s called the Rest-digest nervous system for a reason
  • Do not eat right after a workout and do not workout right after a meal

Phases of Digestion Series

Part 1 of the 5 Phases of Digestion – How Our Stress Level Affects Digestion And Assimilation
Parts 2 and 3 of the 5 Phases of Digestion – The Mouth and The Stomach
Part 4 of the 5 Phases of Digestion – The Small Intestine
Part 5 of the 5 Phases of Digestion – The Large Intestine/Colon
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Thanks for reading! Have a wonderful weekend,

Dr. Marcus Ettinger