Place your left hand horizontally just below your left breast across your ribs, then touch the fingertips from your right hand directly to your left and angle your right hand down slightly.

ayurveda happy stomachThis is your tummy...otherwise known as your stomach. Many people think their stomach lies much lower and confuse it with their gut; when in actuality it just sort of nestles across from your liver and below your heart and lungs. There it sits waiting to do the right thing with whatever you decide to send down to it.

The stomach is connected at one end to the esophagus and at the other end to the small intestine. The top of the stomach presses against the diaphragm which is why it is sometimes challenging to take a deep breath if you’ve eaten too much. Interestingly, because of the stomach’s location, it can actually generate feelings of anxiety or physical discomfort if presses against the nerves in the heart and gut. Sometimes people can have a sense of anxiety or panic, completely unprovoked by what’s actually going on or even in the absence of any emotional stressors, simply because their stomach is either overfull with food or gas and stimulating the nerves that attach to the sympathetic nervous system.

From pictures and little animated drawings your stomach looks like an interesting kidney bean shaped organ. It is actually a hollow(ish) sack that has to bend double in your abdomen to accommodate its size. This creates a fold which does a fantastic job separating the things we eat and drink. One side works with fluids and the other with solids; almost like two stomachs, but not.
stomachThe stomach does an amazing job separating and digesting food. It can hold anywhere from 1.5 cups of food to a whopping 8 cups. Just because it can hold that much doesn’t mean it should. I’m sure we’ve all heard at some point that the gastric acid in our stomach is so strong it is the equivalent of battery acid, which is true but actually one of the least interesting things about your stomach.

For instance, did you know that when you blush, your stomach blushes too? That’s right. The next time you end up with bright red cheeks you can imagine your stomach in the same lovely shade. Also, most people think that digestion happens in the stomach when actually, it’s really just the staging ground. The gastric juices and enzymes found in the stomach break up the food, making the nutrients more accessible to the small intestine as it passes on down the digestive chain. Also, your stomach has to have a really thick lining of mucus to protect itself from the acid it produces. It regenerates this mucus lining every 4-5 days. Your stomach loves deep breathing and exercise. These two activities help the cardiovascular system stay in top form which in turn help the digestive tract stay in top form. When you are stressed out I am one of the first organs to go “offline” to protect you...this gives you more energy and blood flow to handle dangerous situations but this causes big digestive issues if its chronically a false alarm.

Lastly, did you know that your stomach is involved in your daily mood? That’s right, it’s part of the “second brain” that exists in your gut and actually is largely responsible for the neurotransmitters that travel through your body to produced your moods. If your stomach is happy, it means your intestines and the rest of your gastrointestinal tract is happy...which basically means you will be happy since most of your serotonin is produced in your gut. Happy Stomach = Happy You.

anjali handsServing size simplified

Anjali or Prayer hands:
One serving is equivalent to the size of your very own palm.

Example optimal meal: one serving of salmon, two servings of vegetables, one serving of sweet potato. Uncooked leafy vegetable serving size is the equivalent of two hands together.

Fiction: Acid Reflux is due to too much stomach acid and you need to take acid blockers to feel better. 

Fact: Acid reflux can be due to any number of issues; including bacteria, overeating, stress, illness, any number of things that are typically temporary or could be managed through nutrition and/or herbs and spices. Sometimes a simple cup of warm lemon and ginger water, the acid from the lemon can help neutralize potential acid buildup in your stomach, while the ginger will help kill off any potential bacteria. 

Word of caution: If you do have acid reflux and end up taking an acid blocker like Omniprazole, be sure to only take it for a short time. The insert suggests no longer than two weeks. There is a significant and growing body of research that suggests that these types of pharmaceuticals contribute to insulin resistance, weight gain, and type II diabetes.