simple physiology behind stress eating

People often find comforts in foods and beverages. Besides the satiation of our taste buds, filling of the stomach, what is it that brings our nerves system down a notch?

Well, this is completely theoretical but it seemed to explain why we tend to reach for food for comfort.

It goes back to “REST and DIGEST vs. FIGHT and FLIGHT” module. We have two main autonomic nerves systems, parasympathetic and sympathetic, that regulate our body functions. Parasympathetic system gets activated during a resting state, such as sleeping, eating, or relaxing. It brings more of a calming effect and sends signals of comforting to our brain. On the contrary, sympathetics systems get turned on as an alarming system in situations of threats.  This often experienced as the adrenaline rush as we  prepare to fight, physically or mentally. So, how does eating links to any of these?

The key player is the vagus nerve. It runs from our brain to cervical chain ganglion and sets footsteps along our digestive tract. It is the controller of “REST and DIGEST”. Maximal digestion and nutrient absorption occurs when our body is at a calm and alert state.  As our parasympathetic system being activated from the signals send by mechanoreceptors in our stomach, it decreases the adrenaline like effect in our body. The calm waves take over.

SO, in short, eating activates digestion via mechanoreceptors in our stomach, which sends signals to activate  vagus nerve that allows parasympathetics nerve to take over. Hence, the overall calming affects. 🙂

How can you get to that calming state with out putting extra calories into your body? Read more about KEYS TO REDUCE STRESS VIA BREATHING PRACTICES.

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