Many of us learned about the systems of the body in elementary school – remember the nervous system, the skeletal system, the digestive system? From this view, it can seem like these systems are separate and self contained, each doing their own thing with little impact on the others. But the reality is that all of the body’s functions are intricately and beautifully interconnected.
In fact, our posture – which we might tend to think of as a muscular or skeletal concern – actually influences our digestion in a big way. In this fascinating new video from IPEtv, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology, explores the complex and surprising relationship between the way we hold our spine and the way we process the food we eat. Tune in and learn why posture affects our diet even before we take a bite, and how we can tap into the energy of the spine to empower our metabolism like never before!
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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
Greetings, friends. I’m Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating. Here’s a topic I want to talk about: Nutrition and the Spine: What’s the Connection?
So I was pretty lucky that I was born into a family where my dad was a chiropractor. And he became a chiropractor back in the 1950s when they were still considered witch doctors. But that allowed me to learn the importance of a healthy spine.
The spine is one of the most underrated features of the human body.
And what few people realize is that when it comes to great nutrition and appetite regulation, what you do with your spine and your posture is crucial for the best nutritional outcome. Let me explain what I mean.
First, if you are the kind of person who has any kind of food or body concerned like weight, body image, over eating, binge eating, emotional eating, sitting upright creates a sense of dignity. Sitting upright when we eat creates a different sense of who we are in the world. The more upright we are, the more proud and self-respectful we become.
Sitting in this way is a psychophysiologic phenomenon. It influences our experience of ourselves. So when it comes to eating, over time you will find a healthier sense of self when you allow yourself to be upright. Think of a dog that’s all hunched over. When you lift up its chin, the dog’s energy changes. It’s personality changes.
Now, from a neurophysiologic perspective, an upright spine has been shown to be the best posture for learning, memory, retention, and cognition. And this is proven. And it’s an easy one to prove.
So, in other words, the more erect your spine is, the smarter you are.
Think of all the pictures you see of we start out as monkeys and we’re all hunched over. And we gradually become more upright.
When you become upright to the world, you’re confronting the world. Your heart is open. Your chest is open. Everything is exposed. You’re here. When you’re walking on all fours, you’re more protected. So in this posture, we become more human. We become more of who we are meant to be.
Now, from clinical observation, I’ve noticed that people who claim they have problems regulating their appetite – “Oh, my God. I eat too much. I emotionally eat” – they see a noticeable and positive shift when they improve their posture. And, again, this makes total sense that they would regulate their appetite better because science clearly says we are smarter when we’re erect. It’s as simple as that.
Now, next, when we eat hunched over, we tend to eat much faster. And, again, this is based on just decades of observation. Watch people when you go into a restaurant. Watch people when you’re hanging out at somebody’s house. Watch if they’re hunched over when they eat.
Fast eating, by the way, is considered by your body a stressor, which puts us in a stress response, which means stress chemistry, stress physiology, increased insulin, increased cortisol, which signals the body to store weight, store fat, not build muscle, and would signal digestive shutdown.
So when we’re in a stress response, we are limiting the body’s capacity for what we want it to do, which is to digest, assimilate, and metabolize to its fullest efficiency.
So, in fact, one of the great ways that you can help yourself or others to improve their digestion is just to sit upright with meals.
By the way, a hunched spine – physiologically and mechanically – a hunched spine while eating will cause you to swallow more air. And that by itself can lead to more digestive discomfort. So let me bottom line this. Straighten up. It will improve digestion. It will improve your appetite regulation. It will get you in right relationship with the universe. It will get you in right relationship with food, with your body. Plus you won’t look like a slouch while you’re eating.
Having a great posture also gives us better backbone in the world. It’s how we navigate life. So we’re proud. So we have more courage, so we’re saying, “Here I am. I am encountering the world.” Notice who you are when you straighten up because what you’ll see is you will improve your connection, both with the higher power, and with the earth. And when you do that, something beautiful starts to happen. You get smarter. You get wiser. You get more metabolically powerful.
And that, my friends, is the magic of the world.