3 self-somatic release practices

How often do you check in with yourself, truly connecting your mind and body? If you’re looking for ways to enhance this vital connection, you’re in the right place.

In this blog, we’ll dive into three powerful self-somatic release practices that can bring a new level of awareness and harmony to your life. Get ready to explore the transformative potential of somatic therapy and unlock a deeper understanding of yourself. Let’s jump right in!

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Understanding somatic therapy

Somatic therapy is rooted in neuroscience and is specifically geared toward your physical movements, bodily sensations, past experiences and potential traumas that you may have undergone.

How it differs from traditional talk therapy

Unlike traditional talk therapy, which focuses primarily on verbal communication, somatic therapy addresses our neurological and physiological responses.

It is a unique form of therapy, and there are practitioners you can seek out, as well as self-somatic practices you can do on your own to help connect with potential past emotions, suppressed or repressed emotions, or even traumas.

What to consider

When engaging in these exercises, always make sure you are in a safe place and feel secure while performing them.

At its core, somatic therapy helps us appreciate that emotional distress and past traumatic experiences are stored within the body. This can manifest in various ways, such as chronic pain, chronic fatigue, autoimmune disease, chronic illness, anxiety, and depression. With somatic therapy, our goal is to tap into these emotions and past experiences, integrating and processing them.

Considering how humans relate more with non-verbal communication than verbal communication, it becomes essential to address the healing of the body, especially regarding emotions, through our physical body.

A helpful framework to understand our experience and resilience is the “resilience zone.” Within this zone, there is a middle section representing the present moment. However, we can easily be pushed out of this zone into a hyperarousal state, characterized by hyper-vigilance and anxiety, or into a hypoarousal state, marked by shutdown and depression. These states are normal and part of life, but past traumas can keep us stuck in them.

To regulate and return to the resilience zone, somatic practices are valuable. Body awareness practices, breath practices, and movement can be utilized for this purpose.

Although I will share specific techniques, it’s important to acknowledge that any form of body movement can be powerful. Walking, dancing, and fluid-like motions that ignite a sense of flow can all be incredibly impactful.

3 self-somatic release exercises

Today, we’re going to go over three different exercises that you can begin to explore in your body, mind, and life and see how they are for you.

Exercise 1: Progressive relaxation

The first exercise is called progressive relaxation. We will move through the body and create tension in each part, and then relax it. We’ll start at the feet.

I’d like you to think of curling your feet tightly and then relaxing them. For the calves, point your toes, tighten them, and then relax. When you reach the quads, squeeze them and then relax.

As you do this, bring awareness to the creation of tension and then the release of it. Notice that some areas might already be tight as you progress. Squeeze your glutes together and then relax, letting go of that tension. Continue to bring more awareness to your body.

Next, think about curling up your abs slightly, as if you’re doing a mini crunch, and then relax. Now, let’s move to the hands. Make a fist and then relax. We can also curl the arms and then let them go. Bring your shoulders up towards your ears, tighten them, and then let them go. Progress through the body systematically, creating tension and then relaxing, allowing everything to let go.

Exercise 2: The flower

The next exercise is called the flower. While lying on your back, start with your palms down, shoulders rolled in, and feet together, with your knees bent.

From here, open the hands so you’re facing your palm towards the ceiling at the same time as opening your hips. Think you’re opening up like a flower, moving nice and slowly, and then coming back, rolling the hands down towards the floor. Shoulders are going to roll off the ground, and you’re going to feel a little tension in the neck for just a moment.

When you feel comfortable, pair that with your breath, so you can inhale as you’re coming down, opening, and then exhaling, moving at a very slow pace. Pay very close attention to your physical sensations and what’s happening in your body throughout the exercise.

Exercise 3: Tapping exercise

The next exercise is called tapping. You can do this all over your body anytime during the day. It’s a great way to start your morning if you’re feeling slightly stressed or anxious and want to bring your awareness back to your body. Tapping involves making a closed fist and gently tapping your body, moving all around, down the arms and legs, and reconnecting with your physical self.

These are just three examples of the many somatic practices you can explore. The key is understanding that we may store emotional distress or traumas in our bodies, which can manifest in various ways. By becoming embodied, we can have a significant impact on our emotional, mental, and physical well-being.

If you found this helpful, please like and share. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Make sure to check out all the vagus nerve exercises available here as well, as they can also be incorporated into this somatic practice.

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Getting to the root of autoimmune disease

Ever wondered what lies beneath the perplexing realm of autoimmune disease?

Today, we’re on a mission to dig deep and unravel its mysteries. So, grab your curiosity by the hand and join us as we embark on a journey to get to the root of this enigma. We’ll explore the factors driving autoimmune disease and arm you with valuable insights to safeguard your well-being. Let’s dive in!

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What you need to know about autoimmune diseases

It is estimated that since 1980, we’ve gone from 22 million cases of autoimmune disease per year to up to 47 million. So it is clearly on the rise and is something that we need to address. Our immune health is everything.

Key things that contribute to autoimmune disease

Let’s talk about key things that contribute to autoimmune disease.

1. Gut Health

One of the primary factors contributing to autoimmune disease is a condition known as leaky gut or intestinal permeability.

Leaky gut occurs when the intestinal lining, which consists of tight junctions held together by a protein called zonulin, becomes compromised. Various factors, such as toxins, dietary choices, stress, and lack of sleep, can disrupt the intestinal barrier.

When this happens, undigested food particles, toxins, and bacteria can enter the bloodstream, triggering an immune response. This heightened immune activity can lead to the development of autoimmune diseases.

Gut Bacteria Imbalance

The balance of gut bacteria, also known as the gut microbiome, plays a crucial role in our overall health and immune system function. Certain specific bacteria have been linked to autoimmune diseases.

For example, Prevotella is associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Mycobacterium is associated with Crohn’s disease and RA, and Fusobacterium is associated with systemic sclerosis. These bacteria may contribute to excessive inflammation and increase the risk of developing autoimmune diseases.

2. Pollution and Smoking

Exposure to pollution and smoking can act as constant sources of toxic load on the body. Prolonged exposure to environmental pollutants and smoking can predispose individuals to autoimmune diseases.

3. Toxin Exposure

Toxins in various forms can contribute to the development of autoimmune diseases. Mold exposure, exposure to cleaning chemicals, and the use of certain skincare and cosmetic products are examples of how toxins can affect our health and potentially trigger autoimmune responses.

What you can do to prevent autoimmune disease

What are the things that you can do to prevent autoimmune disease? Just because you have a predisposition does not mean you have a genetic blueprint for life. That is the most important thing to remember, there are lots of things that are within your control.

1. Addressing Gut Dysbiosis

To prevent autoimmune diseases, it is crucial to address any gut dysbiosis. This can be achieved through a preventive approach, such as maintaining a whole-food diet with diverse fiber sources. These foods help nourish the microbiome and promote a balance of beneficial bacteria while preventing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria.

By focusing on gut health, we can establish equilibrium and homeostasis in our digestive system.

2. Limiting Toxic Exposure

Another important step is to limit toxic exposure.

Start by visiting the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website or using their app. Assess the products you currently use and gradually replace them with safer alternatives.

For instance, you can begin by scanning your shampoo and checking its toxicity level. If it’s found to be highly toxic, search for a safer option to use on a daily basis. If you suspect exposure to mold or any other harmful substances, it’s essential to seek evaluation and appropriate treatment if necessary.

3. Managing Stress and Nervous System

Managing stress and supporting your nervous system are vital in preventing autoimmune diseases. Explore vagus nerve exercises, which can help balance digestion and the body’s rest and digest responses. Achieving homeostasis in the body serves as a safeguard against various health issues.

Make time to relax and downregulate your system, whether it’s through activities like going for a walk, practicing vagus nerve exercises, or connecting with friends. Prioritize these activities and incorporate them into your schedule.

4. Consider Detoxification

In some cases, detoxification may be necessary. It’s important to note that detoxification refers to optimizing healthy pathways for eliminating toxins from the body, not just consuming green smoothies.

Options such as saunas or Epsom salt baths can support detoxification processes. However, the decision to pursue detoxification should be made in consultation with a healthcare provider, considering your specific circumstances and readiness. Without proper preparation, detoxification can lead to intense reactions.

By following these steps and being proactive about your health, you can significantly reduce the risk of developing autoimmune diseases.

Remember that while genetics may predispose you to certain conditions, you still have control over many factors contributing to your overall well-being.

The Bottom Line

In essence, there are many things you can do to mitigate the potential for autoimmune disease. The most important aspect is healing your gut. However, in order to heal your gut, you need to address several factors: movement, nervous system regulation, and optimal sleep.

It’s crucial not to overlook any of these aspects, as they all contribute to the overall healing of your body, mind, and gut, thus preventing autoimmune disease.

I hope this information has been helpful. If you found it valuable, please give it a like and share it. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

If you need assistance on your journey, we would love to help. Please reach out for a discovery session. Thank you.

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How to optimize your core

Have you ever wondered why your core is so important for your overall physical performance?

While many people focus on building a strong core, there’s more to it than just a toned midsection. Your core is responsible for much more than you may think as it plays a critical role in sequencing, timing, and coordination—all of which are vital for optimal motor control.

By improving your core function, you can move more efficiently, generate more force, and prevent injuries, all of which can help take your physical performance to the next level.

In this blog post, we will discuss how to optimize your core for better function and performance, so you can achieve your fitness goals and enhance your overall health. So, let’s get started!

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The first thing we need to consider when optimizing our core function—our foundation—is stacking or positioning the rib cage over the top of the pelvis.

As we age, we may develop a forward head posture, a tilted pelvis, or a flaring rib cage, all of which can impact our core function. It’s important to remember that posture affects respiration and vice versa—they are interdependent on each other.

Mechanics of Core Function

When we’re optimizing the pressurization system of our core, we need to think about the rib cage being positioned over the top of the pelvis. If the rib cage flares out, we have an open scissors posture, which unfortunately prevents the diaphragm from communicating effectively with the pelvic floor.

Bringing the rib cage back to its neutral position allows for better communication between the two. This creates an opportunity for them to work together more effectively.

Breathing and What’s Happening

When we inhale, we breathe oxygen into the base of our lungs. The diaphragm, a large dome-shaped muscle that separates the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity, flattens and compresses all the organs below it, increasing intra-abdominal pressure. This pressure isn’t just a belly breath; we need lateral rib cage expansion and posterolateral expansion to the back of the rib cage.

As the pressure travels downward, it reaches the pelvic floor, causing it to lengthen and relax. If the pressure doesn’t reach the pelvic floor, it won’t lengthen or relax as much as it should. As the pressure goes down, the transverse abdominis muscle, otherwise known as our natural weight belt, eccentrically lengthens.

When we exhale, the pelvic floor and the transverse abdominis muscle contract, creating a weight belt compression, while the outer abdominal muscles, including the six-pack muscles, contract. The rib cage comes down, and the belly button goes in, resulting in a nice core contraction.

Now that you understand the mechanics, envision that when we inhale, the pressure goes down all the way to the base of the pelvis, creating even pressure around the abdomen. This intra-abdominal pressure is fundamental for core function and associated with pelvic floor function, bladder and bowel control, and efficient stabilization.

Think of the diaphragm and the pelvic floor as doing a rhythmic dance with all the surrounding muscles.

Ways to Optimize Core Function

There are many ways to optimize core function and get some feedback for this.

1. Use a TheraBand

One way to exercise is by using a TheraBand. To do this, you should place the band behind your rib cage, focusing on the area around T8, which is just below your sternum.

Next, pull the band slightly to create tension. You can cross the band at this point to make an angle of about 12 degrees, which matches the angle of your ribs. As you pull down on the band, try to breathe deeply into the back of your rib cage.

Breathe into the, while feeling this feedback to optimize your rib cage breathing.

2. Bring Your Legs up to a 90-degree Angle

The next progression is bringing your legs up to a 90-degree angle and feeling the rib cage expansion.  Brind the xyphoid process (underneath the sternum) towards the floor as well as below the belly button.

As we breathe in and out, we want to feel the back of the rib cage. When we breathe in, we should feel that expansion. When we breathe out, we should bring the belly button in towards the spine.

To progress it

From this position, you can add a block or weight and add a punch. The serratus muscle deeply integrates with the diaphragm. Hold that for three seconds and then relax.

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, those two exercises were really helpful. These are just two of many, but they can really begin to give you some awareness of your core function. How your rib cage and your pelvis work together in unison, and how all of these muscles are based on sequencing and timing, and coordination.

Our core isn’t strong or weak; holding a plank for five minutes does not mean your core is strong. That’s not the way we test the core. Understanding this beautiful representation of how these have to work together is the way we optimize our core function.

Ultimately, this means decreasing the risk of injury, moving more efficiently, and optimizing your performance in life and sport.

So, if this was helpful, of course, make sure to give it a like, give it a share, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

If you’re looking for support on your health journey, we’re here to help! Feel free to reach out to us for a discovery session.

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Top 5 vagus nerve hacks to do at your desk

Have you ever felt stressed or anxious but didn’t have the time or space to go for a walk or do a full meditation? Well, you’re not alone! Many of us face this challenge in our busy lives. The good news is that there are simple vagus nerve hacks that you can do at your desk to quickly regulate your nervous system, no matter the situation.

In today’s blog post, we will share five easy techniques that you can try right now to activate your vagus nerve and promote relaxation. While these techniques are not a replacement for physical activity, they can be a quick and effective way to calm your mind and body in a pinch.

So, grab a seat, take a deep breath, and let’s dive into these five simple vagus nerve hacks that you can start incorporating into your daily routine today. And don’t forget to check out our other resources on vagus nerve exercises and understanding this fascinating aspect of our nervous system!

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5 vagus nerve hacks to do at your desk

1. The Salamander

One of my all-time favorite exercises for improving neck mobility, reducing pain and stiffness, and regulating the nervous system is called the Salamander. It’s a combination of Stanley Rosenberg’s Salamander exercise and some modifications I’ve found to be effective for many of my patients and clients.

To do the Salamander, interlace your fingers and place your hands at the back of your head on the occipital area. Next, side bend your upper body while looking in the opposite direction with your eyes. If this causes discomfort, such as headaches, eye pain, or dizziness, adjust your vision to a soft gaze. Hold this position for about 30 seconds before returning to the center and switching to the other side.

During the exercise, you may notice a yawn or a swallow, which is a sign of nervous system relaxation. After completing the Salamander, test your neck’s range of motion, and you’ll see an immediate improvement.

The Salamander works by providing neurological input from our eyes and hands to the brain stem, where the vagus nerve and the spinal accessory nerve are located. This stimulation increases blood flow to the area, which helps relax the neck and nervous system.

I highly recommend giving the Salamander a try if you’re experiencing neck discomfort or nervous system dysregulation. It’s a simple yet effective exercise that can make a big difference in how you feel.

2. Salivating

This is one of my favorite exercises because it can be quite effective, and no one knows what you’re doing. It’s a self-limiting vagus nerve exercise, meaning it can only have a positive effect, and nothing can necessarily go wrong.

Generating a copious amount of saliva is, in fact, a parasympathetic response. If you have trouble generating saliva, it can indicate that you might be in a fight-or-flight state. However, with a little effort, you can proceed with the exercise.

First, place your tongue at the roof of your mouth and press against it through your mouth. Keep pressing against the teeth, and you’ll start to generate some saliva. You can also think about something appealing, like a juicy lemon or orange, to stimulate saliva production.

Once you’re able to produce saliva, let your tongue bathe in it for a while before ultimately swallowing it. Swallowing is a sign of nervous system relaxation. The pharyngeal branch of the vagus nerve innervates the back of the throat, and this exercise stimulates it. It’s typically a self-limiting exercise, making it easy and beneficial to do.

Watch: Vagus Nerve Hack | Salivate

3. Breathing Technique

In this technique, I will be discussing a basic breathing method that involves a short inhale and an extended exhale. While there are many different breathing techniques, such as 4-7-8 breathing and box breathing, it’s important to choose the right one for your specific needs and situation.

If you’re feeling a bit anxious at work due to having multiple tasks to complete and want to calm your system down, this method is great for you. On the other hand, if you need to be alert and focused for an upcoming meeting, box breathing might be more suitable.

For this technique, imagine taking a small inhale and exhaling for about double the length of the inhale. There’s no exact time that you need to follow, but the extended exhalation will stimulate the vagus nerve, which releases a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, resulting in a relaxation response. The vagus nerve passes through the diaphragm, so practicing this extended exhale is an effective way to quickly calm your nervous system.

However, some people may feel a sense of air hunger when attempting this technique. This happens when your body struggles to maintain the proper amount of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. If you experience this, simply return to normal breathing for at least a minute before trying again. Even doing three breaths in this manner can be a powerful way to calm your system. Feel free to check out my videos on breathing for more techniques to suit your needs.

Watch: Best breathing hacks

4. Hand Reflexology

Hand reflexology is one of my favorite techniques, and it has its roots in Eastern medicine. There are specific reflexology points all over the body, including one on the hand and another on the bottom of the foot, that are related to the vagus nerve.

If you’re sitting at your desk, it’s really easy to try this technique out – I’ve even done it while in the car, using the same hand. To begin, locate the reflexology point on the inside of your pinky finger. You can work on either side, so choose the one that feels more comfortable for you. Starting from this position, you can begin by making slow circles or rubbing back and forth. Then, you can apply more pressure to go deeper or just use a feather-light touch.

You don’t have to use all of these techniques – you can try one, two, or all three of them, depending on what works best for you. If you don’t have time to use both hands, you can just use your thumb to apply pressure.

It’s important to keep in mind that not everyone will have the same response to this technique. If you don’t feel anything right away, don’t worry – it might just mean that your nervous system isn’t responding at the moment. Give it time and be patient. The key is to try it out for yourself and see if it works for you.

Watch: Vagus Nerve Hack | Hand Reflexology

5. The Ear Pull

The ear pull is an incredibly powerful technique that is both a vagus nerve exercise and a craniosacral exercise. To perform the ear pull, grab the earlobe and gently pull it back and out while holding that position. You will likely have a response almost immediately, and you can hold that position until you feel satisfied. If you prefer, you can hold the position for about a minute or two.

Another technique that you can try is massaging inside the ear. This technique is particularly powerful because the vagus nerve has branches in the ear, making it one of the direct ways to stimulate it. By pulling the ear, it influences fluids in your brain and affects the membranes as a craniosacral technique.

Watch: Vagus Nerve Hack | Auricular Ear Release

The Bottom Line

My patients have experienced a lot of positive responses with these techniques, and I hope they can be helpful to you as well. Don’t forget to check out all of my vagus nerve exercises and videos for more techniques to try.

I hope that you will give these a shot, and just remember that this is a way for you to begin to learn about your own nervous system—how to regulate and control your state.

If this was helpful, please give it a like and a share. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel. Thank you!

If you’re looking for support on your health journey, we’re here to help! Feel free to reach out to us for a discovery session.

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How Your Vagus Nerve Affects Your Gut Health

Better big toe function for better movement

Have you ever stopped to think about how important your big toe is? Sure, it may seem like just another digit on your foot, but the truth is, it plays a crucial role in your body’s overall function. In fact, the big toe, also known as the first MPJ or metatarsophalangeal joint, is responsible for a lot more than you might realize. 

So, if you’re curious to learn more about the amazing things your big toe can do, then stick around because we’re about to dive into the fascinating world of foot function.

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Why is the big toe important?

As Dr. Emily Splichal, founder of EBFA Global and Naboso Technology, would say, the big toe is our linchpin in movement efficiency. It is so vital for us to be able to transfer force efficiently, prevent injury, and move with fluidity, and hopefully continue to age gracefully as we get older.

What are the pathologies that can present with the big toe?

The big toe can be affected by various pathologies. One common condition is big toe arthritis, which affects the first metatarsal phalangeal joint. If left untreated, arthritis can worsen and eventually lead to a self-fusion due to prolonged joint centration issues and inflammation. 

Another pathology that can affect the big toe is a bunion. This condition arises when there is instability in the metatarsal cuneiform joint, causing the metatarsal to shift outward and the big toe to deviate from its natural alignment. Over time, this can result in pain and discomfort in the joint.

It is important to maintain an optimal joint position for any joint in the body, including the big toe. This is known as joint centration. For the big toe to function optimally, it should be in a proper alignment. 

Biomechanics of toe joint (phalangeal joint)

When we are moving, we want this joint to slide, glide, and jam. For example, when we’re walking and pushing off in our gait cycle, if we are missing the glide of the 1st metatarsal, then the joint will jam too early. If it doesn’t move into plantar flexion (towards the ground) during toe off, the jamming will eventually cause pain or some type of pathology. 

Our big toe is essential for dynamic activity, such as walking, stairs, lunging, running, or jumping. All of our dynamic activity is driven by how well we can move this toe. The glide is affected by a spiraling pattern that occurs in our foot. This, in turn, affects our spiraling all the way up the kinetic chain. Any dysfunction in this spiraling pattern will influence how this toe and the first metatarsal glide.

It’s essential to note that the anterior tibialis muscle and the peroneus longus create a unique stirrup on the foot, and any dysfunction in that stirrup or spiraling pattern will affect how this joint glides.

Take-home messages

First and foremost, it’s crucial to recognize the significance of your big toe in your movement. It’s responsible for providing 30 degrees of range of motion for walking, with a normal range being around 60 degrees. 

Without an optimal range of motion, wearing high heels can be incredibly painful, as it requires 90 degrees of range. Therefore, it’s crucial to have an optimal range of motion for walking, which requires at least 30 degrees. By recognizing the importance of your big toe in movement, you can better understand how to support it properly.

Secondly, if you have any pathology related to your big toe, it’s essential to address the underlying cause to prevent it from persisting. This could be anything from stiffness to pain, and it’s crucial to identify the root cause to develop an effective treatment plan.

Lastly, to truly address any issues related to your big toe, it’s important to look at the root causes of the pattern you’re experiencing. This means examining the whole body and identifying how the pelvis is moving, how you’re rotating, and whether you have the mobility in the foot, ankle, and calf to spiral properly. By looking at these root causes, you can develop a more comprehensive approach to addressing any issues related to your big toe and supporting the optimal movement.

The Bottom Line

Your big toe plays a crucial role in movement, and recognizing its significance is essential to maintaining optimal mobility and preventing any related pathologies. 

If you found this helpful, please give it a like and share it, and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for more weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

If you’re looking for support on your health journey, we’re here to help! Feel free to reach out to us for a discovery session.

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How is your gut and brain connected?

Best breathing hacks

10 Best Biohacks for 2023

How is your gut and brain connected?

Have you ever experienced “butterflies in your stomach” before an important presentation or felt your appetite disappear during a stressful situation? Well, you’re not alone. Our gut and brain are closely connected, and this communication is referred to as the gut-brain connection.

In this blog post, we’ll explore how this two-way communication occurs and affects our overall well-being. Specifically, we’ll examine the three primary pathways that connect our gut and brain. So, get ready to learn something new and fascinating about the incredible relationship between our gut and brain!

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Why Understanding the Gut-Brain Connection is Important

Whether you have anxiety, depression, headaches, brain fog, or digestive issues like bloating, diarrhea, constipation, reflux, autoimmune disease, skin issues, or neurodegenerative diseases, we must consider our gut-brain access. This amazing bi-directional communication between our gut and brain is connected through three primary pathways.

Three Pathways That Connect The Gut And The Brain

Pathway 1: Nervous System

The first pathway, the nervous system pathway, is connected via the vagus nerve.

As you may have read in my previous posts, the vagus nerve is our wandering nerve. It is a pair of cranial nerves (10th cranial nerve). It wanders down with branches into the throat, ear, esophagus, lung, heart, and entire digestive tract. The vagus nerve is also 80% of our parasympathetic system, which connects our gut and brain. It is one of the best visual representations of this connection.

Therefore, whether we think about specific health conditions or concerns, we want to understand and appreciate this connection and how we can influence it. For example, we can work on diaphragmatic breathing before we eat to bring ourselves to a parasympathetic state and optimize our gut-brain connection.

Pathway 2: Hormonal

The second pathway is the hormonal connection. We want to think of our neurotransmitters, which are our chemical messengers. The gut bacteria help produce these neurotransmitters, so we need proper nutrient intake for that.

For example, approximately 90 percent of our happiness hormone, serotonin, is in our gut, and around 50 percent of our dopamine is also there.

GABA, which inhibits anxiety and fear, is also in our gut. Therefore, to optimize brain health, we can address our gut. Gut dysbiosis, for example, will likely contribute to health conditions that may include but not be limited to anxiety and depression.

Pathway 3: Immune System

The third pathway is the immune connection. Seventy percent of the immune system is in our gut, which is called GALT (gut-associated lymphoid tissue).

We want to consider that if there is inflammation in the gut from food sensitivities and allergies, parasitic infections, pathogenic infections, leaky gut, or IBS/inflammatory bowel disease, this can cause systemic or excessive inflammation.

If we have inflammation in the gut and the lymphoid tissue, which is 70% of our entire immune system, it can ultimately affect everything in our body, especially the gut-brain connection.

The Bottom Line

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve seen others about the gut-brain connection. I hope that this information has been useful and that you find the topic as fascinating as I do.

If you enjoyed this post, please give it a like, share it with your friends, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for more weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

If you’re looking for support on your health journey, we’re here to help! Feel free to reach out to us for a discovery session.

Other things that might interest you:

Best breathing hacks

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Mindset hacks: Unleash your potential

Mindset hacks: Unleash your potential

Do you ever feel like you’re not reaching your full potential? Do you struggle to achieve your goals, despite putting in the effort? Your mindset may be holding you back. But don’t worry; there are simple “mindset hacks” you can use to unleash your potential and achieve your dreams.

In this blog, we’ll explore some of my most effective mindset hacks that can help you overcome limiting beliefs, develop a growth mindset, and increase your motivation and productivity. So, if you’re ready to unlock your full potential, keep reading and discover some of my favorite mindset hacks that can help you transform your life.

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Subconscious vs. Conscious Mind

One of the things I always like to discuss regarding mindset is the difference between our subconscious and conscious minds. Our conscious mind accounts for only one percent of our mind, while our subconscious mind accounts for 99 percent.

When we set goals, such as losing weight, exercising more, or achieving a specific objective, we use our conscious mind, representing that one percent. On the other hand, our subconscious mind includes our past experiences, thoughts, behaviors, emotions, and day-to-day activities.

To avoid constant conflict, we must align these two aspects of our minds. A perfect example of this is our inclination to move away from pain and towards pleasure. For example, after a long week, we may feel more drawn to pizza and beer or wine instead of a salad with chicken, which we might have eaten during our workweek. This tendency towards pleasure will always be a challenge to overcome.

Mindset Hacks

1. Identify what your conscious goal is

First, it’s important to identify your conscious goal and then begin setting yourself up for success. Consider the Triune Brain Theory. First, there’s the early Reptilian Brain, which is like our autopilot, responsible for fight or flight responses. Then there’s the early Mammalian Brain, which can be thought of as our limbic system or emotional brain. Finally, there’s the Neocortex, where we reason, gain insight, and have rationale.

To shift our mindset, we must move away from constantly avoiding pain due to fear. If we want to move out of our comfort zone, we need to shift into the Neocortex. We must think with reason and insight. Unfortunately, our nervous system is designed to protect us, and it can be difficult to leave our comfort zone. We may only peek out before quickly retreating because our nervous system signals that it’s dangerous, and protection mechanisms must be in place.

2. Think about your comfort zone

Now that we have identified both our subconscious and conscious minds, let’s focus on our comfort zone. It’s important to recognize when we are in a state of fear and understand that our nervous system is doing what it should. However, it’s even more reason why we should challenge ourselves to step out of our comfort zone safely and gradually.

For example, if we want to exercise more, we shouldn’t go from not walking at all to walking 60 minutes, five days a week. This can trigger an unrealistic nervous response and lead to a crash. Instead, we should start with something small like walking for five minutes a day and gradually increase it.

Doing this builds safety and resilience in our nervous system, body, and emotions. It’s important to move at a slow pace and signal to our nervous system that it’s safe to step out of our comfort zone and into a growth zone.

3. Changing our wiring

From a neuroplasticity perspective, we have something called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). With BDNF, we can rewire our brains in as little as 20 to 30 seconds by creating new patterns.

For example, if you tend to immediately go to the kitchen and overeat when you come home, you can change that behavior by taking just 20 seconds to shift your environment, such as by going for a short walk outside instead. By doing this repeatedly, you can effectively re-pattern and rewire your brain.

This is important because many of the subconscious patterns we have are what hold us back. However, by forming a new habit in 30 days and reinforcing it for 45 days, you can make remarkable progress. So, the next time you want to make a change, remember that even small adjustments, when repeated consistently, can lead to significant improvements.

4. Think about the neurotransmitter mix

The fourth aspect to consider is the mix of neurotransmitters that are released when we attempt to make a change. Initially, norepinephrine is released, which signals a bit of fear, danger, alertness, and focus.

As we continue to make progress, acetylcholine is released, which helps us to focus on the task at hand. Then, dopamine is ultimately released, which feeds the reward cycle, reinforcing our progress and motivating us to continue our efforts.

5. Sense of urgency

Lastly, it’s important to create a sense of urgency by setting a deadline. This can be highly effective when paired with SMART goals, which are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound, and action-oriented. Setting a deadline helps to ensure that we are working towards achieving our goals in a realistic and focused manner.

The Bottom Line

These are just a few of my favorite mindset hacks. Hopefully, you can adopt at least one and gain a different perspective on making positive changes in your life.

If you found this helpful, please give it a like and share it. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. And if you need help on your journey, we’d love the opportunity to assist you in becoming the best version of yourself. Feel free to reach out for a discovery session.

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Best breathing hacks

10 Best Biohacks for 2023

Are Eggs Good For You?

Best breathing hacks

Breathing — it’s something we all do without even thinking about it. But what if we told you that it could be your superpower? That’s right! Mastering your breath can lead to a host of benefits for your health and overall well-being.

In this blog post, we’ll talk about one of my absolute favorite topics: breathing is your superpower. We’ll also explore some simple yet effective tips to help you improve your airway, optimize your breath, and ultimately enhance your life. So sit back, take a deep breath, and let’s dive in.

Rather watch or listen? 

Breathing Overview

It’s important to remember that we breathe 25,000 times a day, making it our most frequent activity. Breathing is our first motor program, and we do it both consciously and unconsciously. Therefore, we have a significant amount of control over our breath. However, we should not solely focus on the amount of oxygen we inhale. We should also consider the incredible gas exchange that occurs and our ability to maintain the right amount of carbon dioxide in our bloodstream.

Assessing Your Breathing

The first thing that we can do is the control pause test. However, you should only perform this test if you feel safe doing it and you do not have any medical conditions that may warrant medical clearance or supervision. It’s important to make sure that it’s appropriate for you.

Here’s a brief explanation of the test: take a natural inhale through your nose and out through your nose. After exhaling, pinch your nostrils and hold your breath and count until you feel the urge to breathe again. Then, take another inhale through your nose. The purpose of the test is to identify how much time it takes for you to have your very first urge to breathe, or sense of air hunger.

If the time is under 10 seconds, it is considered a severe breathing impairment that should be evaluated. If it’s between 10 and 20 seconds, it is still a significant breathing impairment. Ideally, you want the time to be above 30 seconds for optimal breath and airway function for life and health.

If you’re experiencing breathing issues such as sleep apnea, congestion, chronic allergies and sinusitis, chronic pain, anxiety, or depression, they can be associated with breathing difficulties and airway dysfunction.

Breathing Hacks

First, I would recommend assessing your breathing, as we just went through. But beyond that, there are so many things you can do to optimize your breathing.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

When you breathe diaphragmatically, you inhale through your nose with your tongue on the roof of your mouth and gently touching your top teeth and your abdomen expanding 360 degrees. This means your rib cage also expands laterally in the back, which is called posterolateral expansion. This expansion creates intra-abdominal pressure, which provides core stability for optimal force transfer, posture, and even mood and nervous system benefits.

While we may not always achieve full expansion, it’s crucial to consistently feel that breath pattern throughout the day. We breathe 20 to 25,000 times daily, so understanding the basic pattern of diaphragmatic breathing is essential. There is no sense in doing advanced breathing techniques if this is faulty.

Other Breathing Techniques

While diaphragmatic breathing is fundamental, many other breathing variations, such as 4-7-8 breathing, box breathing, resonant breathing, and coherent breathing, can also benefit your breathing. However, it’s essential to first understand and master the basic diaphragmatic breathing technique.


Okay, now that you’ve assessed your breathing, let’s focus on breathing in through your nose and out through your nose. Check if your chest is moving or if your abdomen is expanding. You have already done the control pause test, so you now have an idea of how difficult it is for you to breathe. If you experience many pelvic floor issues and cannot get your breath down to the pelvis, we need to investigate further.

There are various types of airway dysfunctions, including small nasal valves, a deviated septum, a small airway, or jaw misalignment. If the jaw is pressing back or protruding, it can contribute to a shift in your airway. Other potential issues include large tonsils, adenoids, and sinus problems. These obstructions can hinder proper breathing, so addressing them is important.

Fortunately, there are simple steps you can take to improve your breathing. To get started, let’s take a look at my little toolkit.

Xlear Nasal Spray

One highly recommended nasal spray is Xlear. It is a saline and Xylitol spray that helps to kill bacteria while keeping the nasal cavity moist. Using Xlear twice daily can help protect your immune system and open up your airway up to 35% compared to saline alone.

In case of exposure to allergies, sickness, or illness, you can use Xlear Rescue Nasal Spray. It has oregano, parsley, and xylitol, which can help kill bacteria and keep the nasal cavity healthy. This is meant for short-term use. If you are someone who experiences these things frequently, this is a must!


Mutes are small nasal dilators that can help open up the airway by up to 38 percent. These devices are placed in the nose, especially during sleep, to open up the airway from the nasal valve perspective. Mutes can improve sleep and breathing, especially for people who suffer from a dry throat or constant sickness.

Mouth Taping

If using Mutes works well, you can try expanding to mouth taping. Consider this an evaluation at first; once you’ve evaluated the nasal valves and they are successful, then you can explore the taping during waking hours only at first. Other options if Mutes are unsuccessful could be Breathe Right strips.   If you have assessed that it was a huge improvement, you could try mouth taping.

Nexcare is a good brand for sensitive skin and works really well. You can try it during the day to see if you can tolerate it. However, if you have a severe nasal obstruction or airway obstruction, you may not be able to tolerate it, and it’s not safe. So, it’s important to be objective about your analysis and know that great resources are available to evaluate your airway and take the next steps to know exactly what’s happening in your airway.

Don’t Settle for Poor Breathing

Breathing is the foundation of life, movement, and overall health. If you’re not breathing properly, and you’re not nasal breathing, there are so many implications on your health. So, you want to make sure that you assess your breathing objectively and find the right support to help you on your breathing journey. This could look very different for many people, whether it’s orthotics, mouth taping, or getting their deviated septum repaired.

Don’t settle for just being a mouth breather or snoring at night. Think about the implications for your health!

If this was helpful, make sure you give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Please reach out to us for any help with your breathing, health, or movement. We would love the opportunity to help you improve your energy.

I hope that this was helpful. If you love eggs, definitely give it a like, give it a share, and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. I look forward to seeing you next time.

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Are Eggs Good For You?

Are Eggs Good For You?

Are you tired of the ongoing debate about whether eggs are good or bad for your health? For years, we’ve been told that eggs are high in cholesterol, leading to a greater risk of heart disease. But recent studies have challenged this notion, suggesting that eggs may actually be a valuable addition to a healthy diet.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the health benefits of eggs, discuss how to incorporate them into your diet, and clear up some common misconceptions about this versatile food. So, if you’re ready to crack open the truth about eggs, keep reading!

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What New Research Says About Eggs

So even though the egg debate continues to persist, the most up-to-date evidence shows us that there is little to no correlation between egg consumption and cholesterol. In fact, there are so many benefits to eggs from a nutrient profile perspective, so we’re going to dive into that.

Benefits of Eggs

Eggs are versatile food that can be cooked in many ways and provide numerous health benefits. Here are some key benefits of eggs:

High-Quality Protein

Eggs are a great source of protein, with about six to eight grams of protein per egg. They also contain all the essential amino acids, making them a complete protein source. Protein is essential for building and repairing tissues, and it plays a vital role in many chemical reactions in the body.

Healthy Fats

In addition to protein, eggs are a good source of healthy fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as some saturated fat. These fats can help with the absorption of certain nutrients, such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. Eggs also contain essential fatty acids, which many people are deficient in.

Rich in Nutrients

Eggs are also a great source of various minerals, including phosphorus, calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Additionally, they are a great source of choline, an essential micronutrient for your brain and nervous system. They are a low-cost food that provides high nutrient density, meaning that they are packed with essential vitamins and minerals.

Dietary Cholesterol

While egg yolks do contain dietary cholesterol, research has shown that there is no link between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels. Therefore, eggs can be a healthy part of a balanced diet. Also, as a reminder, cholesterol is what forms our sex steroids. We need fat for optimal hormone production.

Considerations About Eggs

Now, here are some other considerations about eggs. You can have an egg sensitivity or an egg allergy, so it is important to be able to assess this. Even though there are many benefits to eggs, and I encourage anybody who can eat them to do so, we do want to factor in that you could have an issue with eggs.

Assessing Egg Allergies and Sensitivities

If you know that you have an allergy, obviously, this would not be appropriate for you. However, you could do blood testing, skin prick testing, or a food challenge, such as a food elimination diet, to look for food allergy or sensitivities.

In the case of the food challenge, you would eliminate eggs entirely for three weeks. Then, at the end of three weeks, or up to six weeks, you would reintroduce the eggs.

A serving of eggs is two eggs. You can reintroduce two eggs in the morning and two eggs at night. After that, you would not have eggs again for an additional three days, and you track your symptoms, such as digestive issues, headaches, joint pain, systemic inflammation, or skin issues, for an entire four days. Then, you would be able to determine if you had a sensitivity to eggs, or even a potential allergy.

Incorporating Eggs Into Your Diet

Unless you have a sensitivity or allergy, I encourage you to include eggs in your diet. It is not going to affect your blood cholesterol or contribute to heart disease, and there are many other reasons why eggs are beneficial.

I hope that this was helpful. If you love eggs, definitely give it a like, give it a share, and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. I look forward to seeing you next time.

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What can your stool tell you?

Have you ever thought about what your stool can tell you about your health? While it may not be a topic that comes up often in everyday conversation, your stool can actually provide valuable insights into the state of your digestive system and overall health.

In fact, a comprehensive stool test can be one of the most powerful tests you can do, even if you’re not experiencing any digestive issues. From skin issues to migraines and immune system problems, your stool can provide important clues about what’s happening inside your body.

This blog post will explore how a stool test works and what it can reveal about your health. So, let’s dive in!

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Why You Should Consider Getting a Stool Test

Perhaps you have been experiencing health issues for quite some time, and you have even visited a GI doctor who has even recommended a basic stool test, or you have received lab values, yet everything appears normal. Is that why you feel like crap, you may be asking?

If we consider the power of the microbiome, this test can provide us with valuable insights into our bacteria, parasites, intestinal health, possible infections, and so much more.

The stool test, most importantly, must be used to support your overall healing plan, so it should be correlated it with your clinical symptoms.

When you take any tests, whether it’s a lab test, stool test, or micronutrient panel, it must be paired with your clinical presentation. Just like an MRI of your low back, which might show that you have a hernia, disc degeneration does not necessarily mean that you have low back pain. The same goes for this test. We want to ensure that we consider all of the information and make it suitable for you so that it can guide your health decisions.

Sample Stool Test and Its Interpretation


When looking at a comprehensive stool test, there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, we are looking for pathogenic bacteria such as C. diff, E. coli, and Salmonella. These bacteria can cause various digestive symptoms. It is, therefore, crucial to understand if they are present and at what levels.

“Detectable limit” or DL tells us the amount of pathogens present per gram of stool. For example, if C. diff shows up on this panel, it does not necessarily mean that we are experiencing an acute C. diff infection. Instead, we may have chronic colonization of C. diff, which could make us more susceptible to infection.

When it comes to parasites, the test results can be a bit more complicated. For instance, Giardia, a parasite, may be detected, but it is not necessarily flagged as high. However, treating it, particularly if it is related to symptoms, is still essential.

Helicobacter pylori

Digestive symptoms are a bit complicated because many symptoms overlap, whether we have H. pylori, maldigestion, or parasites. They all can cause bloating, fullness, constipation, or diarrhea. Therefore, it is necessary to examine all symptoms and understand which things that pop up on this stool exam are relevant to this person.

For example, H. pylori is a bacterial infection in the stomach. If this is elevated, it is imperative to test and will often be towards the top of the hierarchy of treating. It is easily transmittable, particularly among family members. It is also likely to occur when someone has low stomach acid.

Therefore, we may see a parasite, as well as H. pylori, if there is poor digestion or low stomach acid, which can cause a sense of fullness, nausea, and burping.

Once again, this is high on our priority list.

Commensal bacteria

The next part pertains to commensal bacteria, which are essentially our beneficial bacteria. Commensal bacteria extract nutrients and energy from our food, maintain gut barrier function, produce vitamins, and protect against pathogens. Although we aim for all values to fall within a healthy range and maintain a normal balance, having too much of a good thing can be harmful.

For instance, we do not want any values to be elevated. We also do not want them to be too low. Various bacteria can contribute to different presentations. For example, low level of Akkermansia municphila is associated with obesity. On the other hand, metabolic function and high levels can be associated with Multiple Sclerosis. Thus, we can see how bacteria and bacterial colonization can affect a person’s overall health.

Opportunistic Microbes

We can also encounter opportunistic or overgrowth microbes, otherwise known as ‘potentially bad bacteria,’ which are not as beneficial to our health. Many individuals will come into contact and experience no issues and can be normal in the stool. However, they can cause disease, especially in the immune-compromised. We don’t want to see elevated numbers for these microbes.

Examples of these microbes include staphylococcus and streptococcus, which can trigger Mast Cell Activation and histamine responses in some individuals.

Methanobacteriacea, for example, is a methane-producing bacteria that is strongly associated with constipation and bloating.

These opportunistic microbes are linked to systemic inflammation and certain autoimmune conditions, like rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmune thyroiditis. Therefore, if someone is experiencing autoimmune symptoms, we can gain more insight by assessing stool.


Candida can also be detected on the stool test. However, we need to look at other tests, such as an organic acid test, to gain more insight into it. Fungal overgrowth can be elevated in the large intestine but not in the small intestine.


Moving on to viruses, the stool test is not the best way to test for them. We would need a blood test to test for viruses such as Epstein-Barr.


A stool test can also detect parasites, which are given high priority because they can be harmful to our health.

Intestinal health markers

When we look at intestinal health markers, we get a better idea of how well our body absorbs nutrients. For example, we can look at steatocrit to evaluate a person’s ability to absorb fats. If steatocrit is elevated, it means there is a higher amount of fats in the stool. This also means that the person may not be absorbing fat-soluble vitamins properly.

We also look at pancreatic elastase, which tells us about our digestive function. Elastase 1 is a digestive enzyme secreted exclusively by the pancreas, giving a direct indication of pancreatic function.

β-glucuronidase is another marker that helps us evaluate our detoxification and hormonal activity. High levels can indicate unfavorable metabolic changes in the colon. It can also be associated with dysbiosis and interference with phase II detoxification.

Occult blood measures the concentration of hemoglobin present in the stool rather than just the qualitative presence of hemoglobin. This may indicate something as simple as hemorrhoids or warrant a referral for a colonoscopy.

The secretory IgA (Immunoglobulin A) is the primary immunoglobulin in the intestinal mucosa and is an important marker for assessing the gut’s immune system. If it is low or elevated, we need to address it. We can also determine if there is an elevated response to gliadin (gluten) in the lumen of the gut.

We should also look at the Eosinophil activation protein, and if it is elevated, further investigation may be necessary. Fecal Calprotectin is one of the most common inflammatory markers of the gut, and if it’s high, we need to investigate further. It is used to differentiate IBD (inflammatory bowel disease from IBS). Zonulin, a protein that opens intercellular tight junctions in the gut lining, increases intestinal permeability and is a biomarker for leaky gut.

The Bottom Line

The stool test provides valuable insights into our microbiome, and it is one of the most important tests I perform for my patients. I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t had it done yet.

Please leave a comment if you’ve already had a stool test and let me know what information you received and how you applied it. If you found this helpful, please like, share, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. If you’d like to schedule an appointment or evaluation, I would be happy to help you get started on your healing journey. Thank you.

Other things that might interest you:

What is your liver telling you?

Leaky Gut: The Root of Chronic Disease

How Your Vagus Nerve Affects Your Gut Health