A Fascial Perspective on Nutrition and Digestion

Leaves dripping water onto stone

True hydration and nutritional assimilation is when the cell is open and unrestricted to receive…. on a cellular level. Trying to nourish ourselves to a fascialy restricted body is like pouring water onto stone. Paraphrased from my mentor, John F. Barnes.

Unrestricted On A Cellular Level…What does that mean?

Are you aware of fascia – a.k.a – connective tissue? You might from the realm of fitness or if you make bone broths or hunt, then from those perspectives. Did you know that fascia has an influence how you digest or nourish your body? All the way down to the cellular level?

Connective tissue – aka – fascia is the environment of every cell in our body, including every cell’s internal environment. Among its many roles, it has a role in nutrition, in digestion, in hydration. Without it, we cannot nourish every cell within us.

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  • Fascia is the pathway of cellular nutrition and hydration.
  • Fascia supports and organizes the digestive system from mouth to anus.
  • Fascia supports all-encompassing parts that play a role in digestion and parasympathetic response.

Think of fascia as a 3-dimensional spiderweb that supports, separates, and protects your insides. All the way down to the individual cell.

  • If this web becomes restricted in any way it can impact everything the fascial web it’s connected too. Even individual cells.
  • Trauma/stress, scars (from surgery or injury), repetitive strains, inflammation, or dehydration can create restrictions in the fascial web.

A direct trauma (like a car crash or surgery) or a build up of micro-traumas (like repetitive strain injuries) can turn our fluid, healthy fascial web into cement that’s incapable of moving nutrition and hydration through our bodies.

This could be why your vitamin and/or mineral levels are so low despite the amount of supplements you use. This could be why your leaky gut hasn’t fully resolved and you still have to be careful of what you ingest. This could be why you can’t produce more stomach acid to help with your digestion. This could be why IBS intensifies when your boss is pressing you to be even more productive when you already are. This could be why after your C-section you started to have difficulty with your bowel movements. Etc, etc, etc.

Releasing areas of  fascial restrictions creates space and flow for our digestion. For our nutrition and hydration. For our peace of mind. It creates a healthier environment for our gut microbiome too.

The Gut Microbiome

Illustration of stomach with varieties of gut microbes

If you are not already aware, our bodies are vessels for a variety of microbes that hangout or temporarily live. They aid us in many functions within. Some obvious, like digestion and elimination. Some not, like brain function and immune response. We share much yet to be determined symbiotic relationships. These microscopic partners most of the time work with us and maintain balance inside their walking, breathing home. However, imbalance arises when various physiological functions, traumas, environmental influences step in.

Look at our digestive tract as like a flowing river. The food we ingest moves with ease through us. Being digested effectively. Pulling the necessary nutrition. The microbes in each section of our digestive tract doing their part to feed and help move the waste through. If something starts to dam up the digestive flow, our digesting food slows or stops in our digestive tract. This invites opportunity that can harm our microbial balance. Think of a river that is low during the summer. There are pockets of stagnancy where there weren’t before. Places different microbes start to grow and flourish because the flow that normally would keep this environment moving is has become dysfunctional. Inflammation also begins to happen because the digestive lining of the intestines can only handle so much stationary waste.

This plays a role in gut dysbiosis. Restricted connective tissue around parts of our digestive tract impede its flow and create stagnancy. Restricted fascia around any part of the vagus nerve can affect the flow as well.

Emotions, Belief Systems, and Bracing Patterns Influence Digestion

Stepping away from the more physical focus, I also wish to bring attention to the mind-body fascial perspective. Fascia responds or reacts to our every day interactions. It’s not just tugging and pulling on itself. It is being tugged and pulled on by our conscious and subconscious.

-Our emotions can influence the tension in our body. The anxiety of speaking in public, for some, can move us to vomit out of sheer fear. Tension in our face, neck, and shoulders from someone disagreeing with us on social media.

-Belief systems can influence the tension in our body. Being caught in a car wreck and the message – I’m going to die -, solidifies in our subconscious, replaying 24/7 and keeping our sympathetic nervous system in constant state of “fight or flight”. It taxes our body in many ways, including our ability to digest and hydrate.

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-Using this image to illustrate, bracing patterns can influence the tension in our body. In that same car wreck, we are gripping the wheel, the tissue around our guts toughens, our body braces for impact. This ‘position in space’ solidifies in our subconscious and expresses itself physically in our body’s posture and its physiology, like digestion and hydration. The tension can be immediately seen in our posture or overtime; cranking down on us into a knotted ball of hyper-reactive tension. Like a straight jacket. Digestive symptoms start to surface that hadn’t been any issue before or symptoms already there increase in effect.

Barnes MFR and Getting Flow Back into Digestion

A gentle, manual therapy known as John F. Barnes MFR (Myofascial Release) offers benefit to those that are restricted in their digestion and elimination, in their nutrition and hydration. It pays attention to the role restricted fascia can have upon these physiological processes with us. Trained Barnes therapists know how to find and release fascial restrictions, with sustained gentle pressure that allows our whole mind-body complex, and all its wisdom, to soften and guide itself out of dysfunction, into freedom and ease.

Learn more about John F. Barnes Myofascial Release at www.myofascialrelease.com. If you are looking for a trained Barnes therapist in your neighborhood, you can find an MFR therapist here. And if you are in the Richmond, VA area and seeking out MFR treatment, you can learn about James River Myofascial Release and schedule at James River Myofascial Release.