4 Ways to Improve Chronic Gut Issues

Are you experiencing chronic gut issues? Have you tried every probiotic and gut protocol, treated parasites, and still can’t seem to resolve your issues? In this blog, we’ll explore four effective ways to truly heal your gut.

First and foremost, it’s essential to believe in your body’s innate capacity to heal. No supplement or external remedy can fix you entirely; the true power of healing lies within you. Understand that you don’t need to depend on someone or something else because you possess this incredible capacity within yourself.

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4 Ways to Improve Chronic Gut Issues

1. The Nervous System

Living in a constant state of fight or flight, where you’re perpetually worried about food and its effects, keeps your body in survival mode. This state slows digestion, reduces motility, and weakens your immune responses. Healing your nervous system is crucial.

Transitioning from a fight-or-flight state to a state of connection, rest, and digestion is essential. This process varies for each individual. For some, it may involve therapy or counseling; for others, it could be somatic work, breathwork, meditation, or social connection. 

Understanding your nervous system and how to shift it to a healing state is key. Check out my other blogs on the nervous system, mapping your nervous system, and the polyvagal theory for deeper insights. Remember, healing starts in a safe place.

2. Digestion

When in a fight or flight state, blood flow diverts from the digestive tract, leading to maldigestion. This results in decreased stomach acid, pancreatic enzymes, and bile production, causing poorly digested food and potentially leading to bacterial or fungal overgrowth and leaky gut.

To optimize digestion:

  • Limit water or fluids around your meals (15 minutes before and after, and during).
  • Focus on breathing: take three diaphragmatic breaths before eating to enter a parasympathetic state.
  • Chew your food 20-30 times.
  • Take a short walk after eating to aid digestion.

3. Testing

Understanding the root cause of your gut issues is imperative. While nervous system dysregulation is often a factor, deeper issues may also be present. Testing can reveal:

  • Chronic colonization of a pathogen
  • Presence of H. pylori
  • Dysbiosis (imbalance of bacteria)
  • Digestive efficiency (pancreatic elastase, fat in stool)
  • Gut immune system health (secretory IgA)
  • Antibodies to gluten or other potential allergens
  • Leaky gut

Comprehensive stool testing, SIBO testing, and other diagnostic tests can provide definitive answers and guide a systematic treatment approach. Working with the right provider ensures this process is not overwhelming.

4. Nutrient Repletion

Eliminating certain foods and considering a therapeutic food plan for a short period might be necessary, but the goal is always to optimize nutrient intake to support healing and thriving. Eliminating too many foods can signal a core issue, often increased intestinal permeability (leaky gut).

Instead of focusing on what to eliminate, think about adding more good things to your diet:

  • Essential nutrients (water, vitamins, minerals, macronutrients)
  • Gradually incorporate these nutrients to fuel your body and support day-to-day life.

Approach this with a mindset of adding more good things rather than removing everything.

The Bottom Line

These four tips might seem daunting if you’re experiencing chronic gut issues, but take a step back and view this with a beginner’s mind. Recognize that your body is designed to heal and sometimes needs the right input to do so. Start with the nervous system, then move to mental, emotional, and spiritual health, and give your body what it needs to nurture itself.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

You can always join us in our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have lots of challenges every other month—everything from movement to the nervous system, nutrition, and so on. And we have a great community of people. 

You can also reach out to us for an individual appointment for functional medicine or holistic physical therapy. If you really want to get to the root cause, please reach out to us.

Other things that might interest you:

Gut Health and Chronic Pain: Strategies for a Pain-Free Life

Recipe for success: 7 ways to improve your gut and mental well being

Chew Your Food To Heal Your Gut

Somatic Practice | Figure 8 Resourcing | SOMATIC EXPERIENCING

Our bodies are dynamic reflections of our past experiences, thoughts, and emotions. We often hold these in our physical form through our posture and movement patterns, sometimes unconsciously. In this blog, we’ll share a beautiful somatic practice with you called Figure-8 Resourcing.

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Understanding Figure-8 Resourcing

In this practice, we will use gravity as feedback to enhance our proprioceptive awareness (our sense of body position) and interoceptive awareness (our internal sense of self).

How to Perform This Exercise

1. Prepare Your Stance

Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart or in whatever stance feels comfortable for you. Settle into your body by focusing on your breath. You can close your eyes or keep a soft gaze directed gently towards the floor. Take a moment to notice any immediate emotions, thoughts, or tension.

2. Tune into Your Breath

Bring your awareness to your breath, observing without changing its natural pattern. Notice if you’re breathing shallowly or deeply.

3. Start Swaying

When you’re ready, gently sway side to side, feeling your weight shift and your body move against gravity. Feel the increased weight on one side, then the other.

4. Visualize the Figure-8 Motion

Imagine you have two paintbrushes attached to your sit bones, the bones you sit on. Envision yourself drawing a figure-eight motion with these paintbrushes. Shift side to side in a gentle figure-eight motion. Feel your whole body shift and move, and notice any sensations that arise.

5. Expand Your Awareness

Expand your awareness to your whole body: your head, neck, shoulders, and the subtle movement in your spine, especially as you move down to your pelvis. Notice how each figure-eight creates different sensations in your body. You might feel tension on one side and relaxation on the other, or perhaps discomfort on one side.

6. Reflect and Adjust

As you become more aware of these sensations, see if anything begins to shift from when you started. Notice the rhythmic nature of your movements, and bring your awareness back to your breath and body.

7. Ground Yourself

Return to the stance you started with, feeling your feet grounded. Feel the soles of your feet anchored to the floor, the weight of your body against gravity, the center of your core around your belly button, and the position of your head over your spine.

8. Reflect on Your Experience

When you’re ready, bring your awareness back to the room. Take a moment to reflect. Part of our somatic practice involves noticing what’s happening. You may want to journal your experience—whether it was positive or negative, what emotions or thoughts came up, and what physical sensations you noticed.

Use this practice anytime you want to tune in and connect to your beautiful body. 

If this was helpful, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

You can always join us in our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have lots of challenges every other month—everything from movement to the nervous system, nutrition, and so on. And we have a great community of people. 

You can also reach out to us for an individual appointment for functional medicine or holistic physical therapy. If you really want to get to the root cause, please reach out to us.

Other things that might interest you:

2 Somatic Practices for Overwhelm

3 Somatic Exercises to Get You Out of Your Head Into Your Body

3 self-somatic release practices

Is the Liver the Root Cause of Your Neck Pain?

Are you experiencing right-sided neck pain, right shoulder pain, or sciatica? Are traditional treatments failing to provide relief? Perhaps you’re also dealing with frustration, anger, skin issues, or digestive problems. If so, your liver might be playing a significant role. Today, we’ll explore the connection between liver and neck pain, helping you look deeper into potential root causes.

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The Connection Between Liver and Neck Pain

The liver is an incredible organ, essential for detoxifying blood, metabolizing nutrients, and producing bile. It’s vital for overall health, yet many factors can compromise its function. Genetic variances, toxic exposure, inflammatory diets, and chronic stress can all impact the liver. Additionally, there’s an emotional link to our organs; the liver is often associated with anger and frustration.

If you frequently feel stuck in a fight-or-flight state, constantly frustrated, or angry, it could indicate liver issues. Our main focus today is the liver’s connection to musculoskeletal problems, particularly in the right neck and shoulder. However, the liver can also affect the thoracic spine and cause sciatica on either side. Fascial connections, ligaments, and the liver’s relationship with the diaphragm mean liver issues can manifest as common musculoskeletal pain.

Self-Assessment for Liver-Related Pain

Let’s begin with a simple assessment. Even if you’re not currently in pain, checking for restrictions or mobility issues can be helpful. Turn your head fully to the right, then to the left. Tilt your head to each side and bring your chin down to your collarbone. Notice any tightness or restriction.

If you do experience pain, try this: place your left hand over your liver area, just below the right rib cage. Apply gentle pressure and turn your head to the right again. Notice any changes in range of motion or pain reduction. You can also test your shoulder: raise your arm without pressure on the liver, then with pressure, and compare the differences.

This assessment can reveal whether liver input affects your musculoskeletal system, suggesting fascial or joint restrictions linked to liver function.

Addressing Neck and Shoulder Pain 

Here’s how to address neck and shoulder pain potentially linked to liver issues:

Cross-Body Stretch

Cross your arms over your chest, each hand on the opposite shoulder. Inhale as you rotate to one side, hold briefly, then exhale and return to the center. Repeat on the other side to stretch the fascia and create rib cage expansion.

Alternating Arm Movements

Inhale as you lift one arm up and the other down, then switch sides. Repeat several times to promote mobility.

Liver Motility Exercises

Imagine a 3D motion for the liver: out, up, and back, then down, front, and in. Perform this gentle practice for 45 seconds to a minute, mimicking the liver’s natural movement during breathing.

After these exercises, recheck your range of motion. You might find your neck and shoulder movements feel freer and less restricted.

Supporting Liver Health

To maintain a healthy liver, focus on a nutritious diet and incorporate lymphatic drainage practices. By supporting one of your body’s key detoxification organs, you can enhance overall health and potentially reduce musculoskeletal pain.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

You can always join us in our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have lots of challenges every other month—everything from movement to the nervous system, nutrition, and so on. And we have a great community of people. 

You can also reach out to us for an individual appointment for functional medicine or holistic physical therapy. If you really want to get to the root cause, please reach out to us.

Other things that might interest you:

What is your liver telling you?

Liver and brain connection | vagus nerve

3 Neck Exercises for Quick Relief

7 Ways to Achieve Healthy Skin from the Inside Out

Are you struggling with acne, dermatitis, rosacea, or dry, itchy skin? Have you tried countless topical solutions and creams without success? Read on, as we’re about to dive into a different approach that might just be the answer you’re looking for. Here’s how to achieve healthy skin from the inside out.

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Why Focus on Internal Health for Skin Treatment?

Often, we rely on topical solutions without addressing the root causes of our skin issues. Today, we’ll explore the importance of looking inward to improve skin health. The gut-skin connection, detoxification, and hormonal balance are key factors to consider. Many patients, frustrated with ineffective topical treatments, find success by addressing these internal aspects.

Ways to Improve Your Skin from the Inside

Here are some effective strategies to enhance your skin health from within:

Avoid Processed Foods and Refined Sugars

These can promote inflammation and lead to various skin conditions. Limit their intake to see improvements.

Optimize Protein Intake

Aim for 25 to 30 grams of protein per meal, preferably from hormone-free animal sources. If needed, use supplements like hydrochloric acid and pepsin to aid protein digestion.

Emphasize Omega-3s and Omega-9s

Include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines in your diet for Omega-3s. Add almonds and olive oil for Omega-9s. Maintain a balanced ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s.

Eat Plenty of Fruits and Vegetables

Aim for 5 to 9 servings a day to boost your intake of antioxidants and polyphenols, which combat oxidative stress.

Stay Hydrated

Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Supplement with electrolytes, or add lemon and sea salt to your water to ensure proper hydration.

Avoid Dehydrating Substances

Reduce consumption of alcohol, coffee, certain teas, and caffeine, as these can dehydrate your skin.

Limit Trans Fatty Acids and Mind Your Cooking Methods

Avoid trans fats and be cautious with high-temperature cooking methods like grilling, which can produce harmful compounds that contribute to skin inflammation.

Additional Lifestyle Considerations

Daily Lymph Drainage

Techniques like dry brushing can promote natural detoxification. Check out my other blogs for more on this topic.

Use Safe and Clean Products

The Environmental Working Group Skin Deep database is a great resource to check your products for toxins and allergens.

Optimize Your Sleep

Quality sleep is essential for skin restoration and repair. Poor sleep can accelerate aging and inflammation.

Consult with Professionals

It’s crucial to understand the root causes of your skin issues, which can vary from person to person. Conditions like rosacea, gut dysbiosis, and hormonal imbalances can significantly impact skin health. Consulting with an esthetician and other health professionals can help you develop a tailored skincare routine and address underlying issues.

Final Thoughts

The strategies discussed today are easy to implement and can lead to significant improvements in your skin health. Remember, nutrition and lifestyle changes play a crucial role in achieving healthy skin from the inside out.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

You can always join us in our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have lots of challenges every other month—everything from movement to the nervous system, nutrition, and so on. And we have a great community of people. 

You can also reach out to us for an individual appointment for functional medicine or holistic physical therapy. If you really want to get to the root cause, please reach out to us.

Vagus Nerve Hack for Stress Relief

Are you experiencing neck tension, upper back tightness, or perhaps feeling your nervous system out of balance? If so, keep reading for an incredible technique—vagus nerve stress relief.

This unique method works best for downregulating the sympathetic nervous system and upregulating the parasympathetic nervous system, promoting a state of rest and digestion.

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Understanding the Stellate Ganglion & Stress Relief

In this technique, we’ll focus on the stellate ganglion. Located near the first rib, beneath the collarbone, the stellate ganglion is part of the sympathetic nervous system. By inhibiting this bundle of nerves, we induce a relaxation response, effectively dialing down the fight-or-flight response.

Before attempting this technique, it’s essential to consult with a medical professional, especially if you have underlying heart or vascular conditions.

How to Perform the Exercise

Begin by locating the tightness in your trapezius muscle—the area where neck tension often manifests. With your fingertips, feel along the border of this muscle towards the front of your body. As you sink down, you’ll encounter the first rib. Sink slightly forward from there, applying gentle pressure for about 90 seconds.

This deliberate pressure inhibits the sympathetic ganglion, gradually reducing the stress response. While you may initially experience a brief increase in sympathetic activity, this typically subsides as the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis is downregulated.

As you continue holding the pressure, you may notice calming signs such as a sigh, swallow, or an overall sense of relaxation.

Key Takeaway

This technique effectively balances the autonomic nervous system, complementing activities that promote parasympathetic responses like diaphragmatic breathing. Tempering the sympathetic response facilitates a smoother transition into relaxation.

Moreover, it enhances blood and lymph flow, particularly beneficial for addressing nerve issues, swelling, or symptoms associated with thoracic outlet syndrome. This technique can be applied to either side of the body and also aids in releasing tension in the thoracic spine.

Exploring this method can yield significant benefits in alleviating stress and promoting overall well-being.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

You can always join us in our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have lots of challenges every other month—everything from movement to the nervous system, nutrition, and so on. And we have a great community of people.

You can also reach out to us for an individual appointment for functional medicine or holistic physical therapy. If you really want to get to the root cause, please reach out to us.

Other things that might interest you:

3 Stages of Stress

How stress affects your sex hormones

2 Somatic Practices for Overwhelm

Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy for Men: Regain Strength, Confidence, and Quality of Life

When discussing health and wellness, pelvic floor physical therapy is often seen as a women’s health issue. However, men can also experience significant benefits from addressing pelvic floor dysfunction. Whether you’re dealing with leaking (with or without activity), performance issues, pain in the lower back or hips, pre and post-prostate surgery complications, or bowel issues, understanding the importance of pelvic floor health can be a game-changer.

Why Pelvic Floor Health Matters

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that support the bladder, bowel, and for men, the prostate. These muscles are crucial for urinary and fecal continence, sexual performance, and overall core stability. When the pelvic floor muscles are weak, too tight, or not functioning properly, a variety of symptoms can arise.

Common Symptoms in Men:

  • Leaking: Urinary incontinence can occur during physical activities or even when at rest, leading to discomfort and embarrassment.
  • Sexual Performance Issues: Erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation can be linked to pelvic floor dysfunction.
  • Pre and Post-Prostate Surgery: Surgery can impact pelvic floor muscles, making rehabilitation essential for recovery and maintaining function.
  • Pain: Chronic pain in the lower back, hips, or pelvic region can often be traced back to pelvic floor issues.
  • Bowel Issues: Constipation or fecal incontinence can also be symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.

The Importance of Assessment and Treatment

A thorough assessment by a trained pelvic floor physical therapist can identify the specific issues affecting you. This process typically involves a detailed history and physical examination to pinpoint muscle imbalances, weakness, or tension. Once identified, a personalized treatment plan can be developed. Our approach starts with an assessment done externally and uses breathwork to help you connect to your pelvic floor. This connection allows for better integration of your pelvic floor into your daily habits. Being more aware of where you hold tension and where you compensate helps us make changes to work on strengthening the right muscles to help you towards your goals. In other settings, an internal assessment may be completed on your first visit. 

Treatment Approaches May Include:

  • Exercises: Once an assessment is completed, you will be provided tailored exercises based on your pelvic floor needs. This could begin with working on relaxing the muscles in order to progress into strengthening the muscles through their full range. Integrating exercises into your daily life allows for improvement of function and reducing symptoms.
  • Education: Understanding your condition and how to manage symptoms effectively. Creating a toolbox of exercises for your symptoms and goals is important to help you feel empowered with being able to make changes to help you feel your best. Most importantly learning the anatomy of the pelvic floor to best understand how to advocate for yourself. 

Empowering Men to Take Charge of Their Health

The goal of pelvic floor physical therapy is not just to alleviate symptoms but to empower men to regain strength, confidence, and control over their bodies. Addressing pelvic floor issues can significantly improve your quality of life, allowing you to engage in activities you enjoy without fear of embarrassment or pain.

Building Strength and Confidence

Through dedicated pelvic floor physical therapy, men can:

  • Regain Control: Effective management of incontinence and bowel issues.
  • Enhance Performance: Improved sexual health and function.
  • Reduce Pain: Alleviation of chronic pelvic, hip, and back pain.
  • Recover Holistically: Optimal recovery from prostate surgery.

By taking proactive steps toward assessing and treating pelvic floor dysfunction, men can look forward to a future where they feel strong, confident, and in control. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength, and investing in your health now can lead to lasting benefits.

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned, reach out to us for an appointment or a local pelvic floor physical therapist. It’s time to take charge of your health and rediscover your potential.

How to Improve SI Joint Pain: 6 Causes & Solutions

Struggling with SI joint pain even after physical therapy? You’re not alone. This pain can be frustrating, but the good news is there are often solutions. In this blog, we’ll explore six common causes of SI joint pain and offer targeted strategies to get you back on track. We’ll go beyond generic exercises and delve into specific approaches to address the root of your discomfort. Here’s how to improve SI joint pain.

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What is the SI Joint?

When looking at the pelvis from the back, consider the bones: the sacrum, a triangular bone, and the ilium on each side. These pelvic bones are connected by various ligaments, including the sacrotuberous and sacrospinous ligaments, creating force and forming closure on the SI joint. Pain typically occurs in the lower back region, often near the bony bumps, but it can also present in different areas around the pelvis.

The SI joint is very stable due to its self-locking mechanism, known as form-force closure. This stability depends on the forces entering the joint. For example, a vertical load creates stability through form, while different forces transmitted through the joint also contribute to stability.

Six Causes of SI Joint Pain and How to Improve Them

1. Asymmetry

Most people with SI joint pain experience it on one side. Our bodies are asymmetrical due to the placement of organs like the liver, pancreas, and spleen. Daily activities, such as writing with one hand, driving, and crossing legs, can exacerbate these asymmetries. This can lead to changes in the diaphragm and respiration, affecting the stability of the entire integrated unit. For instance, a pattern of crossing the right leg may lead to internal hip rotation and weaker external rotation, contributing to pain.

2. Force Transfer

Asymmetries affect how we transfer force through our bodies. Our fascial tissue, a 3D network, plays a crucial role in this process. The deep longitudinal line, which includes the lower leg, hamstrings, hip rotators, and low back muscles, is essential for force transmission. Compensations and imbalances, such as flat feet or tight lower leg muscles, can impact this line and contribute to SI joint pain.

Optimal stability and reflexive stabilization from the deep front fascial line, which includes the foot, inner thighs, pelvic floor, diaphragm, and even the tongue, are critical for SI joint mobility and stability. Ensuring all the surrounding musculature is stable is essential for effective force transfer.

3. Foot Position

Foot position can influence SI joint pain. Overly everted (turned in) or inverted (high-arched) feet can stress the SI joint. A rotated-in, flatter foot may lack deep stability for proper force generation, while an externally rotated foot can stress the SI joint ligaments. Achieving a neutral foot position through mobility and stability exercises can help balance the lower leg and reduce stress on the pelvis.

4. Breathing

Proper breathing involves positioning the diaphragm correctly, with the rib cage over the pelvis in a stacked position. This allows the diaphragm to communicate efficiently with the pelvic floor. An open scissors posture, where the pelvis is tipped down and the rib cage up, can cause compression on the SI joint. To improve breathing, keep the tongue on the roof of your mouth, breathe through your nose, and focus on a 360-degree breath. Exhale with the abdomen contracting while maintaining a stacked position.

5. Pelvic Mobility

While stability is crucial, pelvic mobility is equally important, especially during gait. SI joint issues often involve mobility problems. The pelvis should move forward, backward, rotate, and side bend for optimal movement. Practicing pelvic movements while lying down and coordinating with your breath can restore natural fluid movement in the pelvis.

 6. Integration

To bring it all together, stability, sequencing, timing, coordination with breath, foot position, and addressing asymmetries are essential. An effective exercise to integrate these elements is the short foot exercise.

How to do the Short Foot Exercise:

  1. Step with one foot forward and the other foot slightly back, creating a small kickstand.
  2. Hinge at the hip.
  3. Breathe in through your nose, exhale, and gently root the tips of your toes into the ground.
  4. Breathe in with the tongue at the roof of your mouth, exhale, and root the tips of your toes into the ground.
  5. If this feels easy, progress to a single-leg stance.

This exercise promotes reflexive stabilization from the foot, enhances breath control, and engages deep stabilizers. It helps integrate stability and mobility for optimal pelvic movement and efficiency.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

You can always join us in our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have lots of challenges every other month—everything from movement to the nervous system, nutrition, and so on. And we have a great community of people.

You can also reach out to us for an individual appointment for functional medicine or holistic physical therapy. If you really want to get to the root cause, please reach out to us.

Other things that might interest you:

5 Steps to Addressing SI Joint Pain | the Truth About SI

What you need to know about hip bursitis

Why you should consider eliminating gluten and dairy | Elimination Diet

How to Improve Your Digestion: 6 Ways You Need to Know

Are you experiencing digestive issues such as bloating, constipation, diarrhea, belching, or gas? In this blog, we’re going to dive into six specific ways on how to improve your digestion.

We’ll also explain the importance of a healthy digestive system and how to achieve it through natural practices.

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What You Need to Know About Digestion

Digestion is a complex process with many variables, but there’s a lot we can control. The breakdown of food starts in the mouth with enzymes from saliva. The stomach uses hydrochloric acid and pepsin to break down proteins. The pancreas releases enzymes to break down carbs, proteins, and fats. The liver and gallbladder produce bile to aid fat digestion. The small intestine has enzymes to complete digestion. 

When digestion breaks down, it can lead to gut issues like dysbiosis, leaky gut, inflammation, and even pathogens.

So, what are some tips to improve digestion?

6 Tips to Improve Digestion

1. Bringing yourself to a parasympathetic nervous system state

This means ‘rest and digest.’  When in fight-or-flight mode, blood flow moves away from the digestive tract. If we’re multitasking, like reading or looking at our phone, we’re increasing cortisol and diverting blood flow away from the digestive tract, which slows digestion. I recommend a nervous system practice before eating. 

If you’re stressed or anxious, you might need to do a somatic practice to get rid of excess energy. This could be shaking, bouncing, or body drumming. Follow this with diaphragmatic breathing: in through the nose, out through the nose, tongue at the roof of the mouth, allowing the abdomen to expand and contract fully. This helps bring blood flow back to the digestive tract. You can also take a moment of gratitude or mindfulness to be present with your food.

2. Limiting your water intake around meals or fluid intake

If you’re having digestive issues, try to limit water intake to 15 minutes before, during, and 15 minutes after meals. Increased fluid around meals can decrease stomach acid and reduce digestion efficiency. From an Eastern medicine perspective, drinking cold water can also negatively affect digestion. Plan your fluid intake to avoid excessive drinking during meals.

3. Chewing your food 20 to 30 times

Chewing is crucial for optimizing digestion because it breaks food into small particles before it reaches the small intestine. Even if the food is soft, try to chew as much as possible. Ensure your diet includes food that requires chewing and isn’t all soft processed foods. Modern society’s shift toward softer foods has affected jaw structure and chewing ability.

4. Walking after your meals

A short walk, even as brief as 2-5 minutes, can significantly aid digestion. This is preferable to eating a large meal and then lying down on the couch. Walking helps support the digestive process, so it’s a great habit to form.

5. Meal spacing

This is important for people with digestive issues. Meal spacing is vital for the migrating motor complex (MMC) in the small intestine, a wave-like action that moves food through the digestive tract and aids in bacterial transport from the small intestine into the large intestine.  Eating too frequently, like every two and a half hours, can disrupt the MMC and slow digestion.

To optimize our motility in our gut, we want to space the meals out. Aim for at least three to four hours in between meals and an overnight fast for 12 hours.

Everyone’s day will look different based on activity, interests, and preferences, but try to focus on spacing the meals out instead of frequent grazing and snacking.

6. Nervous system regulation

Regulating the nervous system is crucial for digestion, not just around mealtime but throughout the day. If you’re constantly in fight-or-flight or freeze mode, it affects digestion. Try nervous system-regulating practices like breathing exercises, shaking, body drumming, or swaying. Before bed, you can do abdominal massage techniques to calm your nervous system and enter a state of social engagement, connection, and safety, which can optimize digestion.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

You can always join us in our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have lots of challenges every other month—everything from movement to the nervous system, nutrition, and so on. And we have a great community of people. 

You can also reach out to us for an individual appointment for functional medicine or holistic physical therapy. If you really want to get to the root cause, please reach out to us.

Other things that might interest you:

3 Vagus Nerve Hacks for Sleep

Are you having trouble sleeping, or maybe you are feeling tired but wired before bed? You might be looking for practices to downregulate and improve your sleep. Today, we’ll explore three vagus nerve hacks that can help.

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How to Get Better Sleep: 3 Vagus Nerve Hacks

1. Cold Exposure

The first exercise is cold exposure. It might sound unusual before bed, but a small study suggests that cold exposure can stimulate the cardiac vagal reflex, promoting nervous system calmness. You can use an ice pack (not extremely cold) on your lateral neck, where the vagus nerve is located. The study used 16-second intervals, so you can apply and remove the ice pack or keep it on briefly (no longer than 20 minutes). Find a temperature that feels relaxing and soothing, not stress-inducing.

2. The Basic Exercise by Stanley Rosenberg

This exercise involves interlacing your fingers, bringing them behind your head on the occipital area, while lying down relaxed. Then, turn your eyes to one direction and hold it until you sigh, swallow, or yawn. Repeat on the other side. This exercise provides neurological input through your eyes and hands, increasing blood flow around the brainstem (where the vagus nerve exits). This can stimulate the vagus nerve and induce a state of rest and relaxation.

3. Ear Pull

You can perform this exercise on your side. Gently pull your earlobe back and out diagonally. Hold it until you sigh, swallow, yawn, or feel relaxed. Repeat on the other side.

Remember, you don’t have to do all three exercises. Choose one or try this routine before bed to promote relaxation.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our YouTube channel, the Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. Our goal is to help you live your best life, heal, transform, and, more importantly, thrive.

You can always join us in our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have lots of challenges every other month—everything from movement to the nervous system, nutrition, and so on. And we have a great community of people. 

You can also reach out to us for an individual appointment as it relates to the physical pain that you might be having and any emotional issues that you’re dealing with, such as anxiety or depression. If you really want to get to the root cause, please reach out to us.

Other things that might interest you:

3 Pelvic Exercises for Constipation

Are you experiencing chronic constipation or feeling like you’re bearing down when going to the bathroom? Here are three pelvic exercises for constipation you should try!

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The connection between the pelvic floor and bowels is crucial. As pelvic floor therapists, we frequently discuss this, especially if you’re experiencing bowel issues. The pelvic floor and the bowels must work in sync all the time. When constipated, many tend to bear down or push down into the pelvic floor to facilitate bowel movements. Let’s delve into some basic mechanics first before discussing strategies.

Understanding the mechanics

When we’re looking at the pelvis, we want to think about our natural breathing mechanics. So, when we’re breathing in, the diaphragm comes down, and we create this intra-abdominal pressure that fills to the base of the pelvic floor. This should be a 360° pressure, not a downward pressure into the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is lengthening on your inhale and when we exhale, the pelvic floor is contracting. 

Anytime that we lose these natural mechanics or coordination of our respiratory diaphragm and our pelvic diaphragm, then we begin to have issues. So, for example, if you are doing heavy weight training, unless your are creating a proper valsalva, then you’re pushing down into the pelvic floor, which is what will contribute to leaking. It is extremely important that we have optimal mechanics for healthy bowel movements and life, of course! 

3 pelvic exercises for constipation

1. Utilize a Squatty Potty

The first recommendation that I’d like to give is to use a Squatty Potty. You can use blocks or another object to raise your feet, but this will allow for proper pelvic positioning. When you have your knees a little bit higher than your hips, then you can create an optimal pelvic position to open the pelvic outlet to allow for a healthier bowel movement. 

2. Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

As soon as you are about to go to the bathroom, you can perform slow diaphragmatic breaths. Inhale through the nose, while having your tongue at the roof of the mouth, creating proper intraabdominal pressure, then relaxing as you exhale, while the pelvic floor gently contracts. You want to create a sense of relaxation. We have to be in a relaxed state to defecate, urinate, and have an orgasm. 

3. Try the “Belly Big, Belly Hard” Technique

When you feel like you are about to push, you want to take that pause and consider using the  “Belly Big, Belly Hard” technique. This is where we want to prevent the downward pressure on the pelvic floor, which creates faulty mechanics and significant pelvic floor dysfunction over time. 

Make a fist with your hand, just like you’re making a straw. Breathe in through the nose, blow into the “straw” for 3 seconds, and then pull away. 

That will create the appropriate amount of pressure to allow you to have a healthy bowel movement without pushing. You’re creating the optimal amount of 360-degree pressure, You’re going to let the cheeks puff up as you’re doing it and as you’re exhaling, it should feel like you’re able to have a relaxed bowel movement. 

It’s a great technique for when you feel like you’re about to push.  You may need to perform a few times. It is extremely effective. 

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