The "mind-body connection" refers to the reciprocal relationship between the brain and the body. The mind is often referred to as the brain’s observer and interpreter. It is the brain's consciousness and what we "hear" when we think. Through our thinking we can change the brain’s structure, modifying neural pathways and generating new routes for learning and processing information. Intentional and directed focus allows us to alter habitual thinking habits and respond differently to challenging situations.
How we think affects the body’s processes, too. For instance, our thoughts can effect the body’s ability to digest food and extract nutrients in a big way. Stress impairs digestion, absorption and metabolism. On the other hand, relaxation improves the body's ability to process and use the food we eat. Relaxation boosts metabolism. Our thinking can either exacerbate our stress or enhance our relaxation.
On the other hand, the health of the body, and in particular the "gut" or digestive system, is critical to the functioning of the brain, and therefore the mind. What and how we eat can affect our gut health, blood sugar balance, and levels of inflammation in the body, all of which impact brain function. Mind-body nutrition focuses not only on how the food we eat affects our brains, but how our thoughts and resulting stress levels affect the nutrients the body extracts from those foods. Mind-body nutrition is about enhancing the ability of the brain and body to work together through both eating and thinking to generate happiness.
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