Be Well: What’s Your Gut Feeling?

Sure, indulging in a late night burrito craving could certainly be the culprit for those next-day stomach woes you may be experiencing but if bloating, cramping, and gnawing pain are just a “day in the life” for you, symptoms like these could be a harbinger of something more serious. According to the National Institutes of Health, 60 to 70 million people live with some form of gastrointestinal discomfort. Numbers like that have us wondering: Has the American stomach always been this upset?

“Genetics certainly play a role in common digestive conditions, but it’s pretty safe to say that the American diet [and lifestyle] is also a big influence,” says Jacob Panka, a naturopathic doctor at Northwestern Health Sciences University Bloomington Clinic. “We lack social dynamics when it comes to eating, like sitting down and actually enjoying a meal with close friends and family.”

As it turns out, a net loss in mealtime can take a real physical toll on us. Stress isn’t just some mental irritant, Panka says—it impacts our overall gut health and the way we digest our food. “Being around loved ones during mealtime increases relaxation, which helps to increase digestion,” he says. Between eating on the go, mail-ordered recipes, and food delivery service, modern life has undoubtedly shaped our eating habits forever.

Read the full Be Well article from Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.