Good nutrition is one of the pillars of good health. We are becoming increasingly aware of how to select and prepare healthy, nutritious foods. However, good diet is only part of good nutrition. All the beautiful, beneficial organic food in the world cannot optimize our wellbeing if we are unable to make use of the nutrients contained in that food. And what would prevent us from utilizing the food we ingest? Poor eating and lifestyle habits are the main culprits, and ones we When we eat those healthy meals or snacks, are we on the run? Do we gobble down those fruits and veggies in 3 bites or less? How about drinking cold water with our meals? Ever have heartburn? Or stomach upsets or ulcers? All these are indicators that we are setting ourselves up to make poor use of the good diets we are providing for our bodies and undermining our own efforts to live healthy lives.

Stress is a chief player in our depriving ourselves of what we need to maintain our best health. Our fast-paced lives often mean that even when we do grab nutritious food and snacks, we may not take time to chew our food properly or adequately. This can affect digestion which begins in the mouth. Poorly chewed foods can trigger problems in the esophagus and stomach. Think heartburn and reflux. How about that lump you feel in your stomach after you’ve eaten too fast or too much? It feels like a lump because it probably is, and that makes it more difficult for the stomach to do its part in the digestive process. Powerful juices are secreted to breakdown that lump of food and too much juice on a lump of food that is hard to break down can be the start of irritation that can progress to ulcers in the stomach and further in along in the digestive system.

The whole of the digestive tract is wrapped in muscles which move the lump of food, now called “chyme,” along. Just as stress can affect muscles in your neck, shoulders or back, it can cause problems for muscles along the digestive tract too. We feel the results as constipation or diarrhea. Capillaries, or tiny blood vessels, in the small intestine absorb nutrients and pass them on to cells elsewhere in the body. Stress affects these capillaries just as it does larger arteries and blood vessels. In this case, the capillaries are not able to transfer of nutrients as The chief principle of reflexology, that there are places on the ears, hands and feet that correspond (or “reflex”) to the rest of the body and by working these reflexes, those other parts of the body can be positively affected, can be very helpful for digestive issues.

Because most nutrient absorption takes place in the small intestines, these are the reflexes for our attention. Using your thumbs on the bottoms of your feet, apply comfortable pressure to the soft soles and heels using a rolling motion from the joint of your thumb to the tip. Begin at the heel and scoot your thumb the length of your foot up to the ball, repeating until you cover the entire soft area of the sole. Think “inch worm” movement. If you find a sore or sensitive place, repeat working there until the sensitivity is gone. Many people report improvement in how their
stomach feels after working their feet for just a few minutes. The soft palm of the hand from the heel up to the ridge below the fingers is the area to work for digestive issues. Use the same motion on your palm as you did on your foot and work the entire palm.

On your ears you will want to apply gentle pressure in the deep groove just above the opening of the ear canal. Do this with the tip of your index finger. Move your finger along so that you put pressure the entire length of this short groove.

Clearly taking steps to eat properly and reduce the stress in our lives will go a long way to enabling our bodies to maximize the nourishment healthy food can provide.

Grateful acknowledgement to Bill Flocco, American Academy of Reflexology, for material excerpted from various of his publications.