Food intolerance seems to be on the rise, a 2012 study revealed 17% of Australians are afflicted, but I’m guessing that figure has risen sharply since then. Better awareness of the the link between the foods we eat and a range of uncomfortable symptoms including headaches, diarrhoea, palpitations and mood changes is no doubt part of the rise in reporting. The other I believe is chronically high levels of stress.
What if I told you that you don't just digest food, you also digest experiences: emotions, conversations, images, thoughts and events? It makes sense doesn't it.
From the holistic perspective of Chinese Medicine the same organs that process the food you eat, are all highly involved in ‘digesting’ your life’s events. Which explains why, when you’re stressed, your digestion will often go haywire. Not only are your stomach, intestines, liver and gall bladder trying to process the muesli you had for breakfast, they’re also trying to break down and integrate everything else that’s happened this morning.
I find the link between digestion and stress most obvious when it comes to the assessing the health of the liver. From a Western perspective we’re used to thinking that what disrupts healthy liver function is indulging in alcohol and processed foods which is true, yet I see hundreds of clients who eat really well yet show signs of liver toxicity and overload. When you understand that, according to Chinese Medicine, the liver is the organ primarily associated with processing emotion, people start to get why they’re feeling irritable, fatigued and their digestion is out of sorts.
What’s this got to do with intolerances?
At the end of a busy day, your nervous system loves to switch off and relax, which is almost impossible to do when you have unresolved emotional clutter kicking around inside of you. When you can’t switch off, your immune system is constantly on edge and your digestive organs vulnerable to inflammation, both of which leaves you predisposed to developing allergies and intolerances.
So one of the most powerful ways to tackle food intolerance is to learn how to have a kinder relationship with your emotional wellbeing. The other is to make relaxation a daily habit, as commonplace as brushing your teeth. That way you’ll clear away the clutter of each day to leave your mind and body in a sate of relative peace and equilibrium.
Wes Smith is Live Well's Director and has 20 years experience as a practitioner and wellness educator. He has a special interest in working with chronic immune issues, stress, anxiety and depression.
Wes is passionate about inspiring and educating people to create and sustain their vitality and wellbeing so they can live life to the full.
Wes also enjoys teaching meditation and is the creator of meditatewithwes.com an online resource for learning how to meditate. es has a B.App.Sc.(Acup), Diploma of Herbal Medicine, a Yoga Teaching Diploma and is an APHRA registered acupuncturist. Learn more about acupuncture, herbal medicine and meditation.