For many people, in fact, the digestive system is very sensitive to emotional upsets, and indeed such upsets can have all sorts of effects on our health. This is perhaps something we underestimate; the fact that the lady I mentioned didn’t make the connection between her feelings and her bowels is fairly typical.
Quite often we see headlines about how various foods affect us for better or for worse; less often will we see such headlines about our emotional life. Maybe this is because emotions are less easily measured, less easily recognised even, than food stuffs. And indeed it can be just when we do not recognise them, just when we fail to acknowledge them, that they can have the biggest effect. You might know what you are eating, but do you know what you are feeling? (Mind you, if you eat a lot of processed food, you may not know what you are eating either!)
In the case of the lady I mentioned, the effect was just a temporary inconvenience, but in Traditional Chinese medicine it is axiomatic that if we get ‘stuck’ in an emotional response to life such as resentment, anger or sadness, or even excitement, it can, over time, have a big impact on our health and wellbeing. For conventional medicine too, there is growing evidence that negative emotions can influence the development of, for example, coronary heart disease.
So, for a healthy life we need of course to be aware of what we eat and drink; but even more important, we need to be aware of how we feel.