Our bodies and brains respond to everything that we expose them to and everything around us. If we place ourselves in stressful situations or expose ourselves to harmful actions our brain chemistry changes and our bodies follow suit.
Scientists have found that long term exposure to stress in any form will affect physical health. For example, children who are raised in an environment that is too strict or too lax have a higher risk for early obesity. Adults who spend years working in jobs they hate are considerably more prone to conditions ranging from depression to obesity to heart conditions.
Neuroscientists have learned that stresses like these can cause a partial disconnect between body and brain. The brain no longer instructs the body to develop in healthy ways and the body no longer listens to the better signals from the nervous system even when they are present. Practices such as mindfulness and focus on the breath can help realign the connections. The brain and body check in with each other and begin to work in concert. When this happens, changes can occur that are nothing short of miraculous as the ability of the human body to repair itself is incredible.
When you treat the root causes of health conditions and weight gain, the self-soothing behaviors such as poor eating, drinking, and overreactions to stress are no longer needed. The brain corrects the body and the body corrects itself. The fight-flight brain stem reaction can shift into patterns that make sense for the given situation. With that alteration the part of the brain responsible for rational thinking is free to actually do its job as well. Stress hormones are reduced and we become healthier people.