Your state of mind has a profound effect on digestion. Happiness and contentment (from being around friends) causes all of one’s bio-functions to perform better and more freely. Positive states of mind open up and expand various vessels and fibers so that bodily processes work more efficiently.
This may seem like simple common sense but it has profound implications. It suggests that religious values such as “good” and “evil” are intimately connected to the laws of nature. Since present scientific models and theories ignore values, this notion could become a game-changer.
I believe scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg was the first to research this phenomenon. His anatomical studies and his studies of the human mind demonstrated to him that love expanded organic forms, while fear and hate closed and hardened them up and mercy and compassion softened them.
I have already heard some contemporary researchers echo similar findings. Even the twisted coils of DNA can open and contract. Further experiments need to take place to see just how emotions affect this deep level of bio-structure.
Swedenborg discovered that the human body corresponds to (causal similitude), and reacts to, qualities of an individual’s mind (thoughts and feelings). When a person surrounds him- or herself with friends, co-workers or loved ones during a meal with pleasant conversation, the organic vessels, which receive chyle (lymph from emulsified fats) open up and operate more efficiently. This efficiency suffers when one eats alone. Worse yet, negative thoughts or bad news can lead to bad digestion and an upset stomach.
Swedenborg believed that this particular knowledge was one of the areas where science and theology could truly meet and interface. In other words, religious festivals, feasts and meals were based on this precise scientific connection. The reason for this lawful matchup is that digestion takes place within the human spirit as well. When one is in an affection of goodness (such as when among friends) then spiritual truths and instructions are more readily received and metabolized by the human heart and intellect. The human spirit literally thirsts for truth and hungers for goodness (love). So the proper digestion of spiritual food, which brings bliss and happiness, promotes the digestion of physical food.
This is the fundamental idea behind holistic health practices and the biblical pronouncement that “Man does not live by bread alone.” (Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4)