Improve Digestion with one Simple Trick

Joe Condora
Improve Digestion with one Simple Trick

In the United States, digestive illnesses account for more than 100 million ambulatory visits annually (Almario, et. al, 2018). The most common digestive-related ailments include heartburn, acid reflux, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. While most of these symptoms can be managed with lifestyle modifications, ignoring these symptoms can lead to a myriad of other illnesses due to poor nutrient absorption and nutritional insufficiencies. If you are not digesting your food properly, you will not be absorbing adequate amounts of vital vitamins and minerals, leading to nutrient deficiencies. 

While some digestive disorders require medical attention and (on occasion) medication, many digestive symptoms can be alleviated by making a few simple adjustments. 

A simple tip to prime the gut for healthy digestion is taking a moment to say grace before a meal. Research shows that slowing down, taking deep breaths, and expressing gratitude before a meal can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the "rest and digest" system. 

On the other end of the spectrum from parasympathetic nervous system is the sympathetic nervous system, which is known as the fight or flight system. This system is activated during times of stress. Unfortunately, our modern lifestyles leave most of us chronically stressed, with our sympathetic nervous systems continuously activated.

When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, this causes inhibition of gastrointestinal secretion and motor activity and a contraction of gastrointestinal sphincters. On the other hand, when the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, these digestive processes are stimulated, improving the absorption and assimilation of nutrients from your meals.

Research published in 2017 in the Scientific reports journal aimed to investigate the impact that expressions of gratitude or resentment has on nervous system activation. The researchers concluded that expressing gratitude offered significant benefit by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, contributing to enhanced relaxation effects. On the contrary, expressing resentment caused an activation of the sympathetic nervous system, causing an increase in tension (Kyeong, et. al, 2017).

This research suggests that expressing gratitude before a meal may offer valuable digestive benefits, increasing the absorption and assimilation of nutrients and potentially defending against nutrient deficiencies.

Whether you express gratitude thru prayer or simply go around the table and have everyone express three things that they are grateful for, incorporating a gratitude practice at meal time is a simple and free practice that we should all aim to participate in.

If you are interested in assessing your nutrient status, we offer at Micronutrient test that tests for 33 different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This test can provide a clear picture as to what nutrients you may be lacking or if you are simply not absorbing these nutrients effectively. Learn more about the micronutrient test that we offer HERE.


Joe Condora is a nutrition and health coach at Valley Integrative Pharmacy and host of the top-rated health and wellness podcast The Primal Example Podcast.


Almario, C. V., Ballal, M. L., Chey, W. D., Nordstrom, C., Khanna, D., & Spiegel, B. (2018). Burden of Gastrointestinal Symptoms in the United States: Results of a Nationally Representative Survey of Over 71,000 Americans. The American journal of gastroenterology113(11), 1701–1710.

Kyeong, S., Kim, J., Kim, D. J., Kim, H. E., & Kim, J. J. (2017). Effects of gratitude meditation on neural network functional connectivity and brain-heart coupling. Scientific reports, 7(1), 5058.

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