by Dr. Michelle Krenek, DC
What helps your body digest all of the healthy food you are eating? It’s a trick question; you know that digestion is an amazingly complex process involving numerous individual organs, glands, muscles and chemicals that your body creates to help the process. You may not realize that the “glue’ holding all of the pieces together and helping everything operate smoothly and on time is your central nervous system, your brain and spinal cord.
It’s the critical component that sends all the signals telling the various pieces and parts what to do and when to do it. If this vital system isn’t functioning properly, digestion doesn’t happen the way it should, which can create numerous health issues.
The Digestion Process
When the digestion process works as it should, all you need to do is smell something delicious. Your mouth begins to water, your stomach contracts causing hunger pangs and your intestinal glands start emitting digestive chemicals. As the first bite hits your tongue, your teeth do their part, chewing up the food while your salivary glands release saliva to compact the food and help it slide down.
The enzymes from the saliva begin to digest the food. Your tongue pushes the ball from your mouth, through the pharynx to the esophagus and through the esophageal sphincter. You are ready to swallow. With the extra saliva the food slides down the tube more easily and the esophageal muscles go to work to push that food down to the stomach. The journey has only just begun, but you can see already how much is involved in the process.
The Brain and Spinal Cord
For the digestive process to work smoothly, all the channels moving through the brain and spinal cord need to be unrestricted. That’s where chiropractic can help. The central nervous system controls digestive functions from several different regions.
The vagus nerve, which courses out of the brain stem and runs near the atlas bone (the first vertebrae), stimulates the major digestion organs and activates the digestive process. Other major areas controlling the pace of digestion include the sympathetic nerves coming out of the thoracic and lumbar regions, and the sacral parasympathetic nerve fibers.
Spinal misalignment in any of these regions can lead to neurological compromise and altered digestive function. So imagine eating all that amazing food but not being able to digest it properly, which prevents you from reaping all the healthful benefits from those much-needed vitamins and minerals.
Studies have shown a significant link between spinal misalignments and a wide range of conditions including ulcerative colitis, asthma, acid reflux, Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel disorder and many more. What a chiropractor can do is remove the spinal interference that is keeping the brain from properly communicating with the organs in the body. Once the interference is removed, your body is able to do what it does best – heal itself!
Dr. Michelle Krenek owns Back to Life Chiropractic, which opened in 2010. Krenek is a graduate of UTSA and the Parker College of Chiropractic in Dallas. She is currently the chiropractor for the WNBA San Antonio Silver Stars. For more information about Krenek and her chiropractic practice, visit www.backtolifesa.com or call 210-494-3000.