How to Burn More Calories During Your Day | NEAT

Did you know that you can burn almost 350 additional calories each day, which is equivalent to 30 pounds per year if you include more NEAT in your life? NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It is defined as any other type of activity that is outside of your purposeful physical training. Think of this as the energy expenditure related to the daily maintenance of your body, leisure activities, occupation, and all of the things outside of your intended physical 30 to 60 minutes at the gym.

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There are three different categories of NEAT that you can include. These include body posture variations, ambulation/locomotion, and fidgeting. We will discuss each one of these and how to include them in your daily routine.

3 Ways to Include NEAT:

1) Body Posture Variation

One of the most important things that we should all consider is to assume as many different positions and postures as possible during our day. There is no one good or bad posture. The best posture is the next posture, so you want to think about constantly changing positions. There isn’t such a thing as perfect ergonomics, it’s really about moving consistently throughout the day. Are you sitting, standing, waling, moving, and weight shifting? Are you able to sit down onto the ground and get back up? The more that we can assume different variations of postures of sitting, standing, and moving, the better. Our bodies crave movement, so let’s give them what they deserve. 

2) Ambulation or Locomotion

How can you increase your steps throughout the day? You can use a monitor to track how many steps you’re getting a day. Use that as a goal to slowly increase your steps to your day. Let’s not forget about all the locomotive patterns like crawling or skipping; any ways that you can begin to reinforce one of our most powerful movements in our body, which is walking. It is the most powerful assessment of movement efficiency. The more you can begin to increase steps and dynamic movement throughout the day, the better.

3) Fidgeting 

This can be twirling your hair, rubbing your head, or tapping your foot. If you are doing this 150 minutes a day, this can, in turn, burn 350 calories a day, which is equivalent to 30 pounds per year. Every time you’re in your chair or you’re standing at your work desk, think about how you can add a little bit of extra movement in. This will increase NEAT and can be beneficial in metabolism and your weight loss goals or maintenance. 

In today’s movement culture, we are so focused on performing 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity most days of the week. Instead, we want to think about this from a movement mindset perspective and move most hours of each day. That begins with incorporating some of these most fundamental things like walking more, fidgeting more, and changing and assuming different positions. Once we can begin to incorporate these things, we can make such a profound difference in our movement and overall health. Once again, our bodies crave movement, they do not crave sustained positions. 

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What Should You Eat For Chronic Pain? | Nutrition for Chronic Pain

Do you suffer from chronic pain? Perhaps you’ve had pain for greater than three months, and you’re not sure how you can support nutritionally? Fortunately, there is so much high-quality evidence to support how diet therapy can make a profound difference in chronic pain.

Chronic pain is associated with pro-inflammatory states which are linked to peripheral and central sensitization. This is when the brain perceives that there’s pain, and even a heightened sense of pain with very little stimuli, yet there is no tissue damage.

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Additionally, the mitochondria, which is essentially the powerhouse of our cells, are also associated with chronic pain. The damage to the mitochondria can be driven by how we eat. Consuming pro-inflammatory foods, such as the Standard American Diet—the Western Diet—which is rich in sugary foods, alcohol, processed meats, and enriched grains, can contribute to inflammation and even damage the mitochondria. Therefore, with the Standard American Diet, there becomes an imbalance between our essential fatty acids, which we need for optimal health, and pro-inflammatory markers. That’s where a specific diet therapy comes in.

The first thing we want to do is address the inflammatory markers. The Mediterranean diet is one of the best and well-researched diets that has been shown to decrease inflammation. Think of a diet comprised of fish, legumes, olive oil, low in grains, and high in vegetables – also referred to as an anti-inflammatory diet.

5 ways that you address your chronic pain through diet

1) Decreasing Inflammation

The best way to do this is through an elimination diet. Eliminate the potentially pro-inflammatory foods for at least three weeks and then slowly reintroduce them, one at a time. These include gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, coffee, tea, corn, soy, processed meats, red meat, chocolate, tea, coffee, and shellfish. If you don’t want to do a full elimination diet, you can do a modified version—eliminate gluten and dairy, for example. These two definitely can play a role in inflammation, and specifically chronic pain. If you’re eating a lot of sugar, this is also a great place to start. Sugar is a massive pro-inflammatory agent, so decreasing sugar in your diet would be very beneficial.

 2) Calorie Reduction

When we are consuming fewer calories than required by our basal metabolic rate, then we can not only increase our brain’s ability to generate new neurons by decreasing free radicals, but we can also increase ATP, the energy source of the cells, and we can increase our number of mitochondria. These all could play a huge role in inflammation and pain.

3) Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting, an eating pattern that cycles between periods of fasting and eating, can help turn on genes that help cells survive by reducing inflammation. There are many different ways to include intermittent fasting in your life. Fasting from seven o’clock at night until seven o’clock in the morning would be a 12-hour fast. You can slowly increase that to a 16 hour fast, or you can do 24-hour fast two days a week. There are many options to suit your lifestyle and it is strongly recommended to start slowly.

4) Specific Nutrient Supplementation

Omega 3’s, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin B-12, and magnesium have all been shown to impact chronic pain. There are other nutrients that also help specifically with chronic pelvic pain, such as vitamin E, B1, and B3. 

5) Gut Health

Seventy percent of your immune system is in your gut. If there is an inflammation issue, we should start in the gut. So, do you need to include prebiotics, probiotics, or do you need a specific gut health protocol? If you are not managing gut health properly, then you are not managing chronic pain and inflammation well, either. 

These are just a few of the ways that we can use diet to influence chronic pain.  When we have that central sensitization of the nervous systems, our brain still perceives that there’s pain, yet there is likely no tissue damage. Our nervous system is heightened, and we can begin to associate chronic pain with pro-inflammatory markers. We can use diet to decrease inflammation and optimize our micronutrient, antioxidant, and phytonutrient profile to begin to bring our body back into a state of balance and healing. 

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How to fix your forward head posture | Cranial nerves

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Top 5 Vagus Nerve Hacks to Help You Relax and Restore

Do you know how important the vagus nerve is?

The vagus nerve is our wandering nerve that originates from the brainstem. It is one of the longest cranial nerves and innervates the muscles of the face, throat, respiration, digestion, and heart. It has such a profound impact, and it is 80 percent of our parasympathetic nervous system. This is important because it can allow us to fully relax, restore, recover, and digest. It can also help us become socially engaged, connected to the greater world, connected to ourselves, and be more mindful, joyful, and grounded.

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Here are five vagus nerve hacks that you can do to bring you back to this parasympathetic state; to the state of relaxation and social engagement.

1) Humming

Singing is a great way for us as humans to communicate and be connected to the greater world. Humming is a means of vocalization that has an extended exhale. When this happens, we are releasing a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which will stimulate the vagus nerve and create this relaxation response. Additionally, when we are humming, the vibration of humming oscillates the air and causes the nasal cavity to release nitric oxide, which thereby increases vasodilation and circulation. Lastly, it can create a co-regulation with other humans. This creates a safe place for us and that brings us back to that state of social engagement.

2) Sternal Release

The vagus nerve innervates the SA node of the heart, which is also referred to as our pacemaker. It also sits inside of the lung tissue and passes right through the diaphragm. You have baroreceptors in your aorta and carotid which detect pressure changes, especially blood pressure changes. When we are stimulating these things, we can induce a relaxation response. 

To do the sternal release, place a soft ball under your sternum, inhale through the nose, and pretend to cough, but don’t actually cough. So, you’re breath-holding and then slowly exhaling. Perform this for 10 to 20 minutes.

3) Neck Release

Release the areas around the carotid artery, which moves into the carotid sinus, and is innervated by the vagus nerve. As we move through the tissues, we are moving, compressing, lengthening, and shearing all of these tissues around the vagus nerve.

You’ll start just below your ear by compressing and twisting the ball gently as you shear across the tissues. Gently lengthen the neck by turning your head in the opposite direction. Go slowly and carefully over the trachea, hyoid, and larynx in the center, because they can be a little bit more sensitive. After performing the neck release, you should feel warmth in the neck and perhaps even your face. You might even be able to use your senses a little more clearly; sight, sound, and smell. It might just feel like your face softens afterward as well.

4) Probiotics

The enteric nerves from the gut and the vagus nerve are connecting the gut and the brain, which is referred to as our gut-brain connection. Think of this as a highway, a beautiful bi-directional communication. This can be greatly impacted by our HPA axis, hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, referred to as our stress pathway. This can be influenced by probiotics. The two primary strains of bacteria that have been shown to impact mood, behavior, depression, anxiety, also referred to as psychobiotics are lactobacillus rhamnosus and bifidobacterium longum. Both of these strains have been shown to have improvements in anxiety and depression-related behavior, but they can also impact GABA, which in essence, inhibits feelings of fear and anxiety. This can have a profound effect on mood and behavior.

5) Visceral Release 

We tend to hold a lot of tension in our abdomen. It is important to remember that 80 percent of our vagus nerve is sensory indicating that it is providing information back up to the brain. The vagus nerve is innervating our gut, so if we’re holding tension here, we are signaling “tension” or distress to our brain. It’s really important to create these relaxation responses of the organs, tissue, fascia, and skin by stimulating the vagus nerve.

For the visceral release, lie on a ball or even a rolled-up towel or blanket on your side, and gently guide the tissue, skin, fascia, and organs over the ball. Breathe diaphragmatically, starting on your left side and then moving to your right. 

These are five of many different vagus nerve hacks, but please follow us (@themovementparadigm) on TikTok, IG, and FB, for more health tips to help you feel great again!

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What do your gut bacteria do? | 10 Functions of Gut Bacteria | Microbiome

Everyone talks about the microbiome and gut bacteria, but why is it so important? What are the actual functions of the bacteria?

Before we get into the 10 functions of your gut bacteria, let’s talk a little bit about the anatomy. The small intestine which is 18 to 25 feet of our intestine, should be a relatively sterile environment. The large intestine, however, is where we house the majority of the bacteria, especially the beneficial bacteria. When we get something like a small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), it is in essence where the bacteria have now been relocated and overpopulated into the small intestine where it is not supposed to be. We have trillions of bacteria in our gut, and we have a thousand different species. There are also 5,000 different bacterial strains. With that said, everyone is unique, however, there are combinations of collections of bacteria that are present in healthy individuals.

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10 Functions of Gut Bacteria

So, let’s get into the 10 functions of gut bacteria and why it is so important that you have an optimal balance.

  1. Nervous System Modification

This is a really powerful function of our gut bacteria. We want to think of three key neurotransmitters which are essentially are chemical messengers that are formed from the gut bacteria.

  • Serotonin: This is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Ninety percent of our serotonin is located in our gut.
  • Dopamine: Fifty percent of our dopamine, our feel-good hormone, is located in our gut.
  • GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid): This is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that decreases feelings of fear and anxiety and produces a feeling of calm.

All of these are associated with this amazing gut-brain connection.

2. Breaks Down Food Compounds

Essentially, the gut bacteria metabolize the food and medications that we consume.

3. Pathogen Resistance

Think of our gut bacteria as one of our protective mechanisms. It will protect us from pathogens and toxins.

4. Protection Against Any Epithelial Injury

It protects against infections, just like it does with toxins and pathogens.

5. Bone Density Modulation

The gut bacteria can influence our bone density.

6. Promotion of Fat Storage

The gut bacteria can influence the hormones that store fat. Additionally, the Standard American Diet (SAD), that is, the western diet, is influencing gut bacteria, which has been linked to obesity.

7. Immune System Stimulation

Seventy percent of our immune system lies within our gut. So when we have optimal gut bacteria, this gut bacteria is influencing how our immune system responds to foreign invaders, toxins, and pathogens that they might be exposed to.

8. Promotion of Angiogenesis

When we have more blood vessels in the gut, this can be very powerful for future advances in treatments for gut infections.

9. Biosynthesis of Vitamins and Amino Acids

Water-soluble vitamins are plentiful in the diet, but also can be synthesized by the gut.

10. Metabolism of Therapeutics

This is ultimately how we process our medications and supplements. So keep in mind, that if you are planning to take things, you have to make sure that your gut is optimized so that you can metabolize these appropriately.

Now that you know the functions of gut bacteria, you know how important it is to optimize it. You can do that through numerous things, and you can see some other videos for different suggestions to optimize your gut health. But, we do want to think about everything from prebiotics, the fiber that the probiotics feed on, probiotics whether that’s through fermented food or supplementation, and then, of course, stress management, a high-fiber diet with 25 to 35 grams a day, drinking plenty of water, eating a whole, natural food diet to ensure that you are optimizing the diversity of your gut—that is one of the key things that your gut loves, diversity.

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5 Minute Facelift | Vagus Nerve | Cranial Nerves

Did you know that you can do a five-minute facelift that will make you feel completely refreshed, revitalized, and also bring you to a state of social engagement by stimulating the cranial nerves and the relaxation response? Do you ever feel like your face just feels like it needs a little bit of a lift, but you don’t want to do anything cosmetic? Well, this is exactly where you want to start. This can make a huge difference, and it’s recommended to perform this on one side of your face before the other side, so you can see the noticeable difference.

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Six Benefits of the 5-Minute Facelift

  1. Ignite the Relaxation Response

You will stimulate the cranial nerves that share the same nuclei with the vagus nerve. This will ignite the relaxation response.

2. Improve Your Face Circulation

You will improve the circulation of your face. Essentially, you are enhancing blood flow, and you are also moving the lymph.

3. Put Life Back into the Middle 1/3 of your Face

It’s going to put life back into the middle one-third of your face. Essentially, you can notice a shift in your eyes, in between the eyes, the forehead, as well as the mouth.

4. Brings Youthful Quality to your Face

It brings this youthful quality to your face allowing your expressions to come a little bit more naturally especially with smiling. That makes you a little more responsive with your interactions with others.

5. Makes Your Cheekbone Prominent and Softer

It makes flat cheekbones a little bit more prominent and higher cheekbones a little bit softer.

6. Brings You to a State of Social Engagement

Because it is creating this relaxation response, and you are stimulating the cranial nerves that attribute to facial expression, this will bring you to a state of social engagement which means that you’re more connected, more mindful, and grounded. This allows you to interact with the world better, and it allows you to be more associated with yourself and the greater world.

Here’s how you do it.

  1. Start on one side of your face. Come right outside of the nose and assess the tissue. Move it up and move it down, see which way it is not moving as well. Hold very lightly just on this outer surface of the skin so this doesn’t move. Just gently hold it again very softly to start and hold it until you feel a release— until you feel like the tissue just starts to soften and it becomes a little bit more elastic. That could be 30 seconds up to two minutes.
  2. Now move in towards the midline and then away. Figure out where there’s more resistance. Push into that resistance until you feel like you start to release.
  3. Now with a circle, go in one direction and the other direction. Still, just a moderate pressure where that velcro feel is. This time, hold this until you sigh, swallow, or yawn—and that is a sign of the relaxation of the nervous system.
  4. Lastly, one more time, go in a little deeper. Move through both layers in a circular motion until where you can almost feel the bone underneath. Find the resistance. Hold until you sigh, swallow, or yawn.
  5. Now move right inside the eyebrow and begin with assessing the tissue up and down.  Remember, light pressure here. Then, move side to side, and then sink in a little deeper. Figure out what that feels like for you.
  6. The next step is to do your circle, find the resistance, and hold until you sigh, swallow, or yawn.
  7. Now, go a little deeper, feeling the tissue, making your circle, finding the resistance, and then once again hold until you sigh, swallow, or yawn.
  8. Take a moment to check-in. Look at your one half of the face, maybe take a picture, look at the mirror, so that you can see the difference.
  9. Repeat on the other side.

This is a really powerful way to create a lot of benefits in a short amount of time. Not to mention that it feels amazing!

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How to fix your forward head posture | Cranial nerves

WHAT SHOES TO WEAR FOR FOREFOOT PAIN

How to fix your forward head posture | Cranial nerves

Do you have forward head posture, or do you have a friend or family member who does? Perhaps you’re always telling them to stand up straight, but they just can’t seem to do it. Let’s talk about the neurology and physiology behind forward head posture and most importantly, what you can do about it.

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Three things that contribute to forward head posture:

  1. Decreased tone in the trapezius muscle and increased tone in the sternocleidomastoid muscle

This is typically due to some kind of breathing dysfunction. That can be from an airway issue such as nasal valve collapse, deviated septum, chronic allergies, jaw issues, enlarged tonsils, just to name a few, which contributes to poor breathing mechanics, breathing more from the neck and shoulders as opposed to the abdomen and diaphragm. It can also be caused by a stressful event, trauma, or even chronic ongoing stress. This specific imbalance in these muscles is what contributes to forward head posture. Additionally, people that have asthma or COPD will almost always have a forward head posture.

2) State of the nervous system

If you are in a chronically stressed state, perhaps a fight or flight state, or even a freeze state where you feel shut down, how you hold your posture will be impacted. Your posture is your story and how you present yourself to the world. Do you walk into a room with confidence and standing up tall, or do you feel shy, reserved, and rounded forward? All of your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and activities impact your posture. We can’t simply think about your forward head posture as a plumb line.  It is so much more than that. 

3) Scars

No matter where the scar is or how old it is, it can affect your breathing, emotions, and movement. Scars contribute to postural changes, shifts in the nervous system, and contribute to muscle imbalances. It’s important to look at any scar in your body no matter where it is or what it’s from, and begin to address the scar from a fascial perspective. This means that doing scar work can influence your emotions, breathing, and movement. 

Now that you have three causes, let’s talk about three solutions. So, when we’re thinking about how we’re going to shift this forward head posture, we have to think beyond just simple exercises such as chin retractions and thoracic mobility. We have to think about the cranial nerves because they are impacting our nervous system, facial expression, and whether we’re in a state of social engagement, which means we’re mindful, joyful, and grounded. We’re going to address this more so from a cranial nerve perspective and optimizing breathing so that you can make a change immediately. You can also have a cumulative effect the more that you do these.

What I would recommend before you start the exercises is to have someone take a side view picture of your forward head posture. Then, take one again after you finish the exercises to see if there is a change. There absolutely should be at least a subtle change if not a very noticeable change. 

Three solutions for forward head posture

Three solutions for forward head posture

1) The Basic Exercise

With this, you’re putting input to the back of your head and looking with your eyes to create more blood flow around the brainstem. This is where the vagus nerve originates. What happens when we’re not in a state of social engagement is our first two vertebrae can become slightly misaligned. By bringing blood flow to the area and stimulating the vagus nerve can bring the first two vertebrae back into alignment, which means we’re back into a state of social engagement. This can impact your forward head posture almost immediately.

To perform the basic exercise, interlace your fingers and bring them behind your head. Look with your eyes only in one direction until you sigh, swallow, or yawn. When you’ve done that, repeat on the other side. This should take approximately 30 to 60 seconds, however, it can take longer depending on if your nervous system is ready to relax 

2) The Salamander Exercise 

This is also a cranial nerve reprogramming exercise, which will help to create more space in the chest cavity, the heart, and the lungs, therefore impacting breathing and forward head posture.

To perform the salamander, assume a table position. Look with your eyes first and then your head as you bring your ear to your shoulder and hold that for 30 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the other side again making sure you lead with your eyes, then side bend your head bringing your ear towards your shoulder. 

3) The Trapezius Twist

This is essentially waking up all of the trapezius muscles. It’s not stretching or strengthening them. It’s just waking them up, which means there will be an immediate change in posture, breathing, forward head posture, as well as overall posture. Especially after you’ve been sitting for some time, get up and do these three twists! You won’t be disappointed.

To perform this exercise, start with your arms grasped together at waist level rocking back and forth. Next, move your arms up to the heart line rocking them back and forth. Lastly, raise your arms slightly above your shoulders and once again rock them back and forth. You should do about five to ten repetitions at each position. 

There you have it, some causes for forward head posture and most importantly some solutions. We do have to remember that with forward head posture it becomes a vicious cycle because the more forward the head is the more blood flow that is constricted from the vertebral arteries. This means less blood flow to the brain. It also is affecting our airway which means it’s impacting our lymphatic system, hormonal system, and causing inflammation in the body. It’s really important to understand the neurology and physiology of forward head posture and begin to think about it from a much different perspective rather than simply corrective exercises like the chin tucks, upper back stretches, and retractions. We want to think of it especially from a nervous system perspective.

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WHAT SHOES TO WEAR FOR FOREFOOT PAIN

How to Map Your Own Nervous System: The Polyvagal Theory

IS YOUR GUT PREVENTING YOUR WEIGHT LOSS?

Did you wonder how your gut and your gut bacteria can be impacting your weight loss? Research proves time and time again that the Standard American Diet (SAD diet) is something that promotes inflammation in our gut and changes the colonization of our gut bacteria and gut flora over time. Even as simple as one energy-rich meal such as a Big Mac and French fries can release lipopolysaccharides, an endotoxin, into the bloodstream, contributing to this immune response.

The second thing that we know for sure is that when you are in an inflamed state, your hormonal, lymphatic, and GI system will be greatly impacted. Therefore, it will affect your ability to lose weight.

In essence, you have to optimize gut health, balance the bacteria, and feed the gut good bugs, what it needs and craves, which is not the Standard American Diet. I’d like to go over five key things that you want to think about for optimizing your gut health so that you can lose weight.

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1) Decreasing Omega-6’s and Increasing Omega-3’s

Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat found in vegetable oil, canola oil, and palm oil commonly found in packaged and processed foods. Even healthy food can contain these ingredients. These omega 6’s can impact your overall health and contribute to inflammation, therefore your gut. Not only do you want to decrease your omega 6’s, but you also want to increase your omega 3’s. Think of your fatty fishes, walnuts, and flaxseed. All of these can be beneficial and working on increasing these healthy fats will have a positive effect on your gut flora. Make sure to prioritize getting healthy fat with every meal.

2) Include Fiber

You want to consume 25 to 35 grams of fiber per day.  Most Americans fall short of this. If you are eating a high plant-based diet, and you’re getting some grains, seeds, and nuts in; you should be well on your way to getting the appropriate amount of fiber.  If you’re not, then supplementation would be advised.  Think of your fiber as your prebiotics. In order for us to have the positive effect of the beneficial bacteria of probiotics, they have to feed on the prebiotics.

3) Include Fermented Foods

That could be fermented sauerkraut, kimchi, or kefir. You do want to make sure that they contain active live cultures that have beneficial probiotic. If you are not consuming fermented foods regularly, you could consider supplementation to ensure you’re populating your gut with good bacteria.

If you already have existing gut issues, consult with a functional medicine practitioner to ensure you are taking the right one at the right time.

4) Eat More Plants

You want to make sure you have 60-70% of your plate coming from plants. This does not mean to exclude your healthy lean proteins, it just means eat more plants. Fill your plate with a variety of colors because this is exactly what the gut feeds on. This is what it wants and craves. Make sure that you are eating enough variety, because the more diversity in your foods that you have, the better your microbiome diversity will be.

5) Reduce Stress

Stress is one of the biggest drivers for gut bacteria changes. Not only is it well known that it causes inflammation in the body, but it is impacting the gut flora. Even just the thoughts that you have can impact your gut bacteria. Begin to identify what stressors you have and how can you manage stress in your life. You’re not going to get rid of stress, but how can you become more mindful and grounded? How can you respond with clarity and creativity? Use different techniques to be able to cultivate this in your life, so that you can manage the stressors that come your way.

So there you have it, five different ways that you can begin to influence your gut bacteria, microbiome, and 70% of your immune system in order to optimize weight loss. If you’re a person that has been dealing with weight gain, and you recognize that there are some gut issues, start here! It is imperative to have optimal gut health for everything else in your body to function well.

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

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How to Map Your Own Nervous System: The Polyvagal Theory

How to Map Your Own Nervous System: The Polyvagal Theory

With anxiety, depression and stress on the climb, have you ever wondered how you can understand your reactions to life’s challenges and stressors? Or maybe you wondered how you can become more resilient? Did you know that you can map your own nervous system? This is such a powerful tool that can help you shift the state of your nervous system to help you feel more mindful, grounded, and joyful during the day, and more importantly during your life. Before we discuss how to map your nervous system, let’s break down the autonomic nervous system a bit more.

The terms “fight or flight” and “rest and digest” are typically what we refer to when discussing this autonomic nervous system. However, there are three different aspects of the autonomic nervous system referred to as the polyvagal theory, developed by Dr. Stephen Porges. The vagus nerve, referred to as the wandering nerve in Latin, is one of the longest nerves that originates in the brainstem and innervates the muscles of the throat, circulation, respiration, digestion and elimination. The vagus nerve is the major constituent of the parasympathetic nervous system and 80 percent of it’s nerve fibers are sensory, which means the feedback is critical for the body’s homeostasis. This amazing vagus nerve is constantly conveying information back to our brain. For example, when we take slow deep breaths, we are stimulating the vagus nerve. This will cause the release of a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which signals back to the brain to create this relaxation response. Pretty amazing, wouldn’t you say?

When we are in this stressed state or potentially anxious state, then we cannot be curious, or be empathetic at the same time. In addition to not being able to be empathetic or curious, we are also not able to bring the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for executive function,  communicating, guiding, and coordinating the functions of the different parts of the brain, back online. This essentially means that we are not able to regulate our attention and focus. Sound familiar?

Three nervous system states

  1. First, our “fight and flight” response is our survival strategy, a response from the sympathetic nervous system. If you were going to run from tiger, for example, you want this response to save your life. When we have a fight response, we can have anger, rage, irritation, and frustration. If we are having a flight response, we can have anxiety, worry, fear, and panic. Physiologically, our blood pressure, heart rate, and adrenaline increase and it decreases digestion, pain threshold, and immune responses.
  2. Second, we have a “freeze” state, our dorsal vagal state, which is our most primitive pattern, and this is also referred to as our emergency state. This means that we are completely shut down, we can feel hopeless and feel like there’s no way out. We tend to feel depressed, conserve energy, dissociate, feel overwhelmed, and feel like we can’t move forward. Physiologically, our fuel storage and insulin activity increases and our pain thresholds increase.
  3. Lastly, our “social engagement” state is a response of the parasympathetic system, also known as a ventral vagal state. It is our state of safety and homeostasis. If we are in our ventral vagal state, we are grounded, mindful, joyful, curious, empathetic, and compassionate. This is the state of social engagement, where we are connected to ourselves and the world. Physiologically, digestion, resistance to infection, circulation, immune responses, and our ability to connect is improved.

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Adapted by Dr Stephen Porges

As humans, we have and will continue to experience all of these states. We may be in a joyful, mindful state and then all of a sudden due to a trigger, be in a really frustrated, possibly angry state, worried about what may happen to then feeling completely shut down. This is human experience. We are going to naturally shift through the states.

However, when we stay in this fight or flight or this shut down/freeze state, that is when we begin to have significant physiological effects and also mental/emotional effects. As I mentioned earlier, this could be an emergency state. This can also be a suicidal state, if we are in this shut down mode for too long. If we are in a fight or flight state, we can have constant activation of our stress pathway, also known as the HPA axis, and we can really impact our stress hormones, sex hormones, our thyroid, etc. This stress will have significant inflammation effects on the body as well. All of these states can have considerable effect on our overall health, positive or negative, of course. Also, you can not get well if you are not in your “safe” state. No treatment intervention or professional will help you if you are not safe. This is why it’s really important to identify the states for each of you.

How can you map your nervous system?

  1. Identify each state for you.

The first step is to think of one word that defines each one of these states for you. For example, if you are in your ventral vagal state, this is also called the rest and digest state, you could say that you feel happy, content, joyful. etc.

When you are in your fight or flight state you could use the words worried, stressed, overwhelmed, etc.

In the freeze state you could use the words shut down, numb, hopeless, etc.

The first step is identifying the word that you correlate with each of those three states. This is really important because then you’re able to recognize which state you are in and identify with it quickly. This will allow you to really tune into your body and understand how you feel in that state, so you can help yourself get out of it.

2. Identify your triggers and glimmers.

You’ll want to identify triggers for your fight/flight state as well as your freeze state. These could be things like a fight with your boss, an argument with your spouse, a death of a loved one, if someone cuts you off while driving, etc. It is whatever things that cause you to feel stressed. You want to eventually have at least one trigger, if not many, written down for each of those states.

Glimmers are the things that bring you to that optimal nervous system state. It could be something as simple as petting a dog or something bigger like going on a vacation.

Click here for Deb Dana’s Worksheet to Map Your Nervous System

Summary

Once you can identify what those states are for you, then you can recognize what your triggers and glimmers are for that state. You can really begin to make a profound difference in your nervous system state. You can take ownership of what’s happening to your body, you can tune in to what’s happening, and know how to regulate your emotions and your responses to stress. Ultimately, this is how we can begin to develop resilience. This means being able to have respond appropriately to life’s challenges, go to that fight or flight state for a short period, and then return back to your state of social engagement. That should happen a few times a year not multiple times a day, or every day for that matter. To truly enjoy life, returning to your state of safety where you are mindful, grounded, and joyful, is a practice. It can start with mapping your own nervous system.  

If you need help on your journey, please reach out!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.

Other things that may interest you:

How to test your vagus nerve

How to improve your vagal tone

WHAT SHOES TO WEAR FOR FOREFOOT PAIN

Do you have forefoot pain or pathology and you’re not really sure what shoe you should be wearing? There are numerous foot pathologies that you could have, however we are going just zero in on a few today, such as bunions, first metatarsal joint arthritis, neuromas, and plantar plate tears.

Before we get into details about each, let’s just go over some quick anatomy.  The forefoot includes the phalanges (toes), the five metatarsals, and the connective tissue.

Now, let’s jump right into our foot pathologies and what feature in the shoe you should be looking for to accommodate for your pain.

  1. 1st MPJ arthritis:

This 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint is also referred to as the great toe. This is caused by the joint jamming too early in the gait cycle or an inflammatory reaction.  If you have arthritis in this toe and it is either painful and or limited in mobility, then the most important feature for your shoe will be a more rigid midsole. Secondly, you’ll want a wide toe box so that you have room for your toes to splay properly.

midsole

2. Bunion:

A bunion occurs when we lose stability in the metatarsal cuneiform joint (first ray). The first metatarsal will swing out and create a valgus position on the great toe. With a bunion, you definitely want a wide toe box. Because a bunion is caused by a lack of stability in the 1st ray, this often indicates that the foot is likely an unstable, everted foot type. In this case, a stiff heel counter in the back of the shoe will help control the foot so that it does not overpronate.

heel counter

3. Neuroma:

A neuroma is a scarred or fibrotic nerve often between the third and the fourth metatarsal. The nerve rubs on the fascial tissue and then becomes fibrotic.  This typically occurs from a loss of stability in the foot and/or compression in footwear, among other things such as injury. What will be most important with acute symptoms of a neuroma will be a stiff midsole. If the midsole is flexible, and you have an active, painful neuroma, you will continually compress the nerves at toe-off in your gait. So when your foot is more irritated, a stiffer midsole with a wide toe box will be most beneficial. 

toe box

4. Plantar plate tear:

The plantar plate is an extension of the plantar fascia that runs horizontally across the joints. A plantar plate tear can be very painful, and you’ll want to immobilize the tissue for a period of time. In this case, once again, you’ll want something more rigid in the midsole. During an acute injury, you will want to immobilize the tissue for a period of time, therefore utilizing the rigid midsole.

In certain circumstances depending on the level of forefoot pain and pathology and how it’s affecting your quality of life, a forefoot rocker is frequently recommended. If someone has advanced great toe arthritis, whether it’s fused itself or a fusion surgery has been performed, a rocker bottom shoe can be very helpful.  It can be added to the shoe or there are actually shoes that you can purchase with this specific feature.

Now for your bonus! The more cushion you have in your shoe, the more impact force you will have through your body. Picture yourself walking outside barefoot. Imagine how you would walk–your pace, your intention, your impact.  Now picture yourself doing the same walk in high cushioned shoes. Think about the difference in how you would interact with the ground. You will strike the ground much harder because you do not have the same sensory input that you would have if you were walking barefoot. 

When you have pain that is affecting your quality of life, shoes can be part of the solution, rather than part of the problem.

If you’d like to schedule a free 15-minute virtual discovery session, please email drarianne@themovementparadigm.com or text 302-373-2394 to schedule. We’d love to help you get healthy again!

Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement, and share with anyone you think may need this.

What To Eat To Improve Your Nerve Health | 10 NUTRIENTS

Do you suffer from nerve pain? Whether it’s sciatica, median nerve tension, carpal tunnel, thoracic outlet syndrome, chronic nerve pain into the hands, or maybe it’s even chemotherapy-induced or diabetic neuropathy? It’s important to address the root causes of any nerve pain, and most importantly, optimize your nutrition so that you can improve your nerve health.

Here are 10 different nutrients that you can consume through foods or supplementation that can optimize your nerve health.

1. Vitamin B12

This is important for the myelin sheath, which is surrounding the nerve. It’s been shown that even high doses of vitamin B12 can potentially repair damaged nerves. Good sources of vitamin B12 are yogurt, fatty fish such as salmon, cod, and sardines.

2. Vitamin B6

We need vitamin B6 to be able to absorb vitamin B12. Rather than supplementing with B6, which can potentially cause damage to the nerves, you can get this through your foods. Good sources of vitamin B6 are tuna, salmon, chicken, and spinach.

3. Vitamin B1

This is important for our muscular system and nervous system. It also converts carbohydrates to energy in the form of ATP which is our energy source. This is something that we only get a small fraction of through the metabolism of it so this is something you could supplement with, in addition to getting it from foods. Good sources of vitamin B1 are navy beans, other forms of beans, green peas, and sunflower seeds.

4. Vitamin B2

This is necessary for the absorption of B6 and B12. Good sources of vitamin B2 are soybeans, spinach, almonds, and asparagus.

5. Antioxidants

This can be powerful to optimize the myelin sheath and prevent any damage to the nerve. Good sources of antioxidants are berries such as blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries, dark leafy greens, fatty fish, and walnuts. Try to eat a rainbow every day!

6. Ginger

This can be a powerful anti-inflammatory agent. Try using a couple of teaspoons in hot water or you can incorporate it into salads, soups, and stews. It is very helpful for nerve inflammation and pain.

7. Omega 3

This is important in repairing the myelin sheath that the nerve is wrapped in. Good sources of Omega 3 are fatty fish, walnuts, and flaxseeds.

8. Water

We are made up of 70% water. All of our nerves, bones, ligaments, and connective tissue is inside of our lymphatic system which essentially is water. It’s our aquarium. We want to make sure that we are well hydrated so that our nerves can function at their peak.

9. & 10. Magnesium and Potassium

Magnesium helps the nervous system to relax where potassium is helping to transmit those signals or messages efficiently. Good sources of potassium and magnesium are pumpkin seeds, quinoa, and fresh fruit.

These ten nutrients may not eliminate your nerve pain, but they can definitely help optimize your nerve health. Remember, you always want to get to the root of the issue.  You want to look at this from an integrative perspective and recognize that the nutrients that you are consuming or not consuming are going to impact how you are recovering from your nerve injury.

If you’d like to schedule a free 15-minute virtual discovery session, please email drarianne@themovementparadigm.com or text 302-373-2394 to schedule. We’d love to help you get healthy again!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.