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.

Why a Stool Test Can Change Your Life

Do you want to finally understand the root cause of your digestive issues? Perhaps chronic inflammation or autoimmune disease, maybe even anxiety or depression? If so, please join me in diving into why a stool test can be so valuable in helping you understand why you’re not feeling so well.

In this blog, we’ll explore the incredible insights stool analysis can offer, how it can help uncover hidden factors contributing to your health issues, and why it’s an essential tool in my practice. Join me on this journey to better understand your body and reclaim your health.

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The Importance of Stool Analysis

You might be thinking, ‘Why on Earth would I do a stool test?’ Well, if you are like most of my patients, you are experiencing some kind of chronic health condition. That could be as simple as dry, itchy skin, or swelling in your hands, or arthritis. It may also be chronic digestive issues— your bowels are very irregular—or you have an autoimmune disease, or you have anxiety or depression.

The stool test is a great avenue to understand in depth what is happening in your microbiome, which is directly connected to your brain through the gut-brain axis—our bidirectional two-way communication. So, when we can begin to look at exactly what’s happening, which I will get into detail about, we can have a very systematic approach to addressing the root causes of why some things might be happening to you.

What to Look For in a Stool Test

So, what are we looking for in a stool test? The first thing that’s really important is that we always want to pair any testing, any special testing or labs, with your clinical presentation. So, it really is important to understand what you’re experiencing day to day, moment to moment, and how these things correlate with your stool test. As I said, we want to do that with every clinical lab value.

Pathogens and Infections

Now, when we’re looking at this, we are first looking at pathogens. So, we might have something like C. difficile or E. coli or a parasite like Giardia. All of these things could pop up. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you had E. coli yesterday, but if the numbers are elevated and they’re out of range, that could mean you have a chronic colonization for it. So, if you were exposed to it, you could actually get it very easily. If there was something like Giardia, which is a parasite that can destroy the microvilli of the intestine like Celiac can, that is really high priority. That’s something that would need to be treated.

H. pylori and Commensal Bacteria

Next, we look at H. pylori. So, H. pylori is an infection that occurs in the stomach. It is a bacterial infection. It is a gram-negative bacteria, and this is present in 50% of the population. So, literally, one in two stool tests I see, someone has H. pylori. Normally, if they have it, then their significant others should also be tested and/or treated for it because it is highly transmissible.

Opportunistic Bacteria and Dysbiosis

Then, we look at your commensal bacteria. We often hear about this as your beneficial bacteria. So, in this case, we can get a really nice profile of what is happening. Now, we often think, ‘Well, we want a lot of really beneficial good bacteria,’ but actually, we want it in a healthy range. We don’t want them too low. We don’t want them too high. This is because either one of those extremes can cause issues. 

Then, we look at the opportunistic bacteria. So, this is a bacteria that can be problematic, and it can cause or be linked to inflammation and autoimmune disease. It can also be linked to things like histamine intolerance.

Small Intestinal Health and Yeast Overgrowth

We can also see small intestine patterns. So, we’re referring to the stool test; we’re looking at the large intestine, but we can see patterns that may present as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which can warrant further testing or monitoring of diet. We can also see if there’s a yeast overgrowth. 

Some signs of that may be things like chronic fungus in your toenail that’s not dissolving. Maybe you have a history of vaginal yeast infections. Maybe you have thrush in your mouth.

Assessing Overall Intestinal Health

The last segment of the stool test is where we can really look at your overall intestinal health. This is really, really valuable because we can look to see how you’re digesting food. So, your steatocrit is a measure of fat. Is the fat in the stool high, which means that you’re having a malabsorption of fat?

Addressing Issues

So, how do you go about addressing all of that? I see really complicated cases and very complicated stool tests. 

What I love about the stool test is that you can prioritize and make a systematic approach to it. What I found works well for my patients because a lot of times they’re coming from other providers where they’re taking tons of supplements and they’re overwhelmed by everything, or they don’t want to take that much, or they’re just overwhelmed in general with the process.

So, what I really like to do is look at the stool test, prioritize what is a pathogen, what is an infection, what needs to be treated right away, and break it up into phases for each patient. 

For one patient, it might be one, I’d call it gut healing phase one or phase two; for another patient, it might be four; for another patient, it might be three. So, it could just really depend on how complicated your case is, how many supplements you’re able to take or not able to take.

I really try to do one to two at a time that might be related to a specific treatment, and that really works well emotionally, mentally, and physically for most patients. 

Key Takeaways

So, the great thing about it is that it’s objective data, and you can really organize it in a fashion to improve your symptoms slowly over time.

I could give you countless stories of how that has happened with patients, and it is one of the most profound tests you can do to optimize your health. Personally, I love doing it as a preventative measure. So, coming from gut issues after cancer, I really began to dive into stool testing regularly to keep making sure that I’m addressing things if they come up. So, that’s what happens with our world and our environment.

If this was helpful, please give it a like, give it a share, and, of course, 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.

If you need help more individually, please reach out for a discovery session. We would love the opportunity to help you in any of these areas. And in addition to that, you can feel free to join our app, the Movement Paradigm. We have monthly challenges, live Q&As, and an amazing community, all geared toward whole-body health. So hope to see you there!

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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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8 ways to heal your chronic pain

Chronic pain is in part considered a neurodegenerative disease and is mismanaged in our country. We need to dig deeper into the biological and metabolic factors as well as the pathophysiology of chronic pain. This goes well beyond opioids and NSAIDs.

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What you need to know about chronic pain

Essentially, chronic pain will distort the cognitive and emotional processing of day-to-day experiences. The volume in chronic pain is dialed up, and our ability to inhibit or turn that volume down is decreased. Therefore, we have what we call sensitization. That means that our nervous system is hypersensitive. Everything is amplified, and the ability to dampen it is decreased.

In addition to that, it can be associated with anxiety and depression. Oftentimes, these may go hand in hand. Of course, it’s necessary and important to look at any type of adaptive movements or compensations that may be contributing. Beyond that, it’s important to look at toxin exposure, intestinal permeability, otherwise known as leaky gut, inflammation, dysbiosis in the gut, and hormone imbalances. Increased cortisol from chronic stress or decreased sex hormones, like DHEA, progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone, can influence our ability to perceive pain. 

Lastly, chronic pain does not equal tissue damage. With acute pain, there is often acute tissue damage which contributes to increased swelling, pain and increased white blood cells in the area. However, with chronic pain, there is no tissue damage. The tissues have healed, yet your brain is still perceiving that there is increased pain.

8 ways to heal your chronic pain

Let’s discuss eight things you can do to address your chronic pain.  

1. Stop the Opioids and NSAIDs

Long-term use of opioids can actually increase pain and your perception of pain. NSAIDs drive leaky gut, so intestinal permeability. That contributes to a release of lipopolysaccharides (LPs), which is considered an endotoxin. The more LPs that you have in your body, the more inflammation and the more pain you can experience. 

2. Support Key Nutrients

Chronic pain is considered a dysfunction of the mitochondria, the powerhouse of cells. You want to make sure that you’re supporting the nutrients for your mitochondria. Proteins, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, for example, are crucial for the membrane health in your cells. 

3. Improve Glycemic Responses

Eat balanced meals with proteins, carbs, and fiber sources to prevent blood sugar dips throughout the day. If you’re eating a high glycemic food like candy, white bread, or enriched foods without any protein or fats, you can have poorly regulated blood sugar. You want to improve your membrane thresholds by stabilizing your glycemic response. 

4. Modulate Stress

This can be done through mindfulness practices, meditation, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, autogenic training, progressive relaxation, and much more. This is a crucial part of healing chronic pain and understanding your body’s signaling, which can be done through a variety of modalities. 

5. Purposeful Graded Exercise

It is important to start low and go slow in a very systematic progression. For example, if you were going to start walking, you would start walking for five minutes every other day. Once you’re able to do that without any increase in pain, then you can proceed to eight minutes. This will allow you to progress safely without getting discouraged.

6. Heal the Gut

Your gut is 70% of your immune system. This is what drives inflammation, and typically, chronic pain is associated with chronic inflammation. You want to get to the root of your gut issues. Gastrointestinal issues might not be obvious and could present as systemic inflammation, joint pain, and so on. 

7. Prioritize High-Quality Sleep

It is important to make sure that you are not only getting enough sleep, but you’re getting deep and REM sleep to fully restore and repair your body. 

8. Assess and Decrease Toxins

You can start by going to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) website and begin to choose one product at a time to switch to a cleaner product. This could be something as simple as switching from plastic water bottles to stainless-steel water bottles. You could change the products you’re using on your skin or your hair. Toxins, including medications, are things that can continue to perpetuate the chronic pain cycle. 

You can get better! You can heal your chronic pain. Look beyond just basic physical therapy, exercises, cortisone shots, and surgeries. You have to dig deeper into all of the things that play into chronic pain. 

We are happy to help, so please reach out. We do virtual and in-person consultations, so we’d love the opportunity to help you on your journey. If this was helpful, give it a share and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Need help? Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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Vagus nerve hack | Diaphragmatic and Lymphatic Release

Did you know that the lymphatic system is one of the most powerful yet neglected systems in the body and it’s critical for our immune health?

As we know, nearly 90% of all chronic diseases and chronic health conditions are associated with excessive or persistent inflammation. How do we get rid of inflammation and detoxify our bodies? We do this primarily through the lymphatic system and our detoxification organs.

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Our liver is one of the most important detoxification organs, but we also want to factor in our lungs, kidneys, skin, and even our tongue.

How does this relate to the vagus nerve?

Although the vagus nerve does not innervate the lymphoid organs directly, it does play a huge role in the neuroimmune axis. There’s information coming into the brain via the vagus nerve and from the brain via the vagus nerve. Our diaphragm is one of our main respiratory pumps for the lymphoid system. If you are having any gut issues and if you suspect that your lymphatic system is congested, which it is for many people, this is a great technique to release the diaphragm to optimize your respiratory pump. The vagus nerve passes right through the diaphragm, so when you are stimulating the diaphragm, you are also stimulating the vagus nerve. 

How do you perform the technique? 

You can do this lying down or standing up. Use a scooping technique right underneath the ribcage on the left side. The diaphragm is attaching to the inside of the ribs. Push down towards the opposite hip with your hands gently to release the spleen, stomach, and pancreas. Perform this about 10 times.

Then, switch to the other side where we will release the liver and gallbladder. Perform 10 times.

Lastly, come into the center of the abdomen between the sternum and belly button. You will incorporate this with your breath. Inhale and relax the hands, exhale push in with your hands with a pumping motion. This will help pump the lymphatic system. This should not be aggressive at all, just intentional. Perform this for another 10 reps.

Make sure you check out all of my other vagus nerve hacks, but if this was helpful, make sure to give it a share. Also, subscribe to our YouTube channel. The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

If you are interested in making a consult for yourself, please make sure to reach out. You can check us out at staging.movementparadigm.flywheelsites.com, we would love the opportunity to help you.

Need help? Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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Detoxification… it’s not what you think

Have you seen on social media the latest detox diet? Three days to detox your body? Unfortunately, it is not that simple. We want to take into consideration our toxic burden, our total toxic load, and how this affects our overall health. 

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What you need to know about toxins

We are exposed to so many toxins on a day-to-day basis.

For example, before a woman leaves the house in the morning, she puts on an average of 168 different chemicals on her body. When it comes to men, it’s 86, according to the Environmental Working Group. For female teenagers, it’s even greater because of all the extra products that they might be using. Not to mention the glyphosate that is in many of our crops, GMOs, pesticides, cleaning chemicals, and all of our personal care products.

We are exposed to many toxins in and around our environment. Let’s not forget things that we’re putting in our bodies. The foods that we’re eating can have processed ingredients, chemicals, heavy metals, etc. Rice, for example, has very high amounts of arsenic. Although not all of it is within our control, some of it is.

A toxin, by definition, is a poison made by a human organism. A toxicant, on the other hand, is synthetic and manmade. Our total toxic load equals our total toxic exposure minus the ability to bio-transform and excrete toxins or toxicants.

In essence, if you have an increased toxic burden, and you are constipated, you’re not able to excrete. If you are not drinking enough water, you’re not excreting through your urine, and therefore will have an increased total toxic load on your body. 

How toxins affect each individual

Everyone’s ability to detoxify is unique. This is very important because that is why certain people can be exposed to things their whole lives, smoke, drink, and not have anything happen to them. Then other people make all the right choices and unfortunately they may end up with chronic health conditions.

We have to factor that into our equation of how toxins will affect each person. This means that when you are not able to excrete and biotransform and have high toxic exposure, this could lead to chronic illness.

Who can be susceptible?

This could be anyone who has nutrient deficiencies, increased exposure to toxicants, and/or has some type of intestinal dysbiosis, imbalance of beneficial and bad bacteria. Also, someone who is undergoing a tremendous amount of stress, getting inadequate protein, eating a lot of highly refined carbohydrates, and genetics can be at risk.

The other thing that we want to mention as it relates to detoxification is that our liver is our major detoxification organ. We have two phases of our detoxification, phase one and phase two.

Sometimes when people try to detoxify, they may upregulate phase one detoxification, but if they are not supporting phase two with specific nutrients, managing stress and sleep, and so on, then they could feel much worse. 

We want to remember that there are different phases of detoxification and there are specific nutrients that support phase one and phase two. So, if you are not supporting those detoxification pathways, you can become much worse and feel very sick. Whether you are trying to detox from heavy metals or from foods, doing this with a qualified health practitioner is recommended.  

So, what are some things that you can do to promote healthy detoxification? 

1. Reducing Toxic Burden

Start with going to the Environmental Working Group and begin to evaluate some of the products that you use such as your cleaning chemicals and personal care products.  Determine the rating and if they are rated high, begin to search for how you can replace those maybe one by one. Keep it slow and steady, so it doesn’t seem overwhelming. You can’t detoxify if you still have a high toxic load. 

2. Choose Organic

You can use the clean 15 Dirty Dozen guide that is also on the EWG website to use as a reference to determine what foods are more important to get organic than ones that aren’t.

3. Addressing Constipation

If you are constipated, meaning you are not going to the bathroom at least once a day, and t looks like a snake, address this immediately! You want to make sure that you have healthy bowel movements consistently because that is one of our main ways to detoxify. 

4. Drinking Water

Is this the only thing that you should do? No, but I do want to emphasize the importance of this because we also excrete through our urine. If you’re well-hydrated, you’re going to be urinating more frequently, which is going to contribute to healthy detoxification. 

5. Eating a Rainbow

This is perhaps one of the most important things and the reason for this is that eating the rainbow is actually an art and a science. Each specific color of the rainbow is contributing to very specific phytonutrients. These phytonutrients are supporting the phase one and two detoxification pathways.

If you are just consuming a multivitamin, you are getting some of it possibly, but not to the extent that you will be getting if you’re eating whole foods. The detoxification program that I use for patients offers many therapeutic foods and colors. Eat a rainbow every day

6. Cooking Preparation

High heat cooking can contribute to AGE’s, advanced glycolytic end products. This can contribute to oxidative stress and inflammation. Cooking with olive oil, for example, is not the best for high heat cooking oil. Therefore, it can contribute to inflammation. Olive oil has so many health benefits so consider putting that on a salad and using avocado oil for high heat cooking.

In summary, you may need to be toxify for various things. My advice is to seek out a professional that can help guide you and support you.

Need help? Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Ileocecal Valve Release | Visceral Release

If you are experiencing any kind of gut issues like bloating, constipation, diarrhea, SIBO, leaky gut, or even upper GI issues like GERD then you should give this vagus nerve hack a try, the ileocecal valve release.

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What is the ileocecal valve?

The ileocecal valve connects the small intestine to the large intestine and prevents any backflow of nutrients and undigested food into the small intestine. The large intestine is where we have most of our beneficial bacteria. So, we don’t want to have a backflow of toxic material moving into the small intestine where it is not supposed to be. This can cause a whole host of issues such as SIBO or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth. The small intestine is where we’re supposed to be absorbing the nutrients from our food. Issues around this ileocecal valve can typically cause a lot of tenderness around the area.

How does the vagus nerve fit into this?

The vagus nerve modulates digestion through the migrating motor complex. This migrating motor complex is located in our small intestine and helps to move things through towards the large intestine. It can also affect the ileocecal valve. In essence, the vagus nerve influences our small intestine and ileocecal valve. 

How do you perform the release? 

While lying down, find your hip bone. Then, orient yourself to your belly button. From those hip bones, move 1/3 of the way up towards your belly button and that is called McBurney’s point. When you get to that area, sink your fingers nice and easily into the tissue. First, assess to see if it is tender? Does it feel restrictive? Once you’ve assessed the tissue on your bare skin, gently compress the tissue inward and then traction the tissue up towards the belly button. Try to hold gently anywhere from two to four minutes. You may feel a decrease in tenderness and/or some motility. Sounds are common and normal. This is a great technique to do right before bed. Try to perform on a daily basis for eight weeks. 

Need help? Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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Jaw-Emotion Link

If you experience jaw pain, you should know about its link to emotions. Poor vagal tone is linked to things like clenching and grinding.

When we have overstimulation of the trigeminal nerve from the masseter muscle, one of our main jaw muscles, we are in sympathetic nervous system (flight/flight) overdrive. Clenching or grinding your teeth at night or during a stressful situation is very common.

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Other Factors that Affect Jaw Pain

Poor tongue posture can also contribute to jaw pain. The tongue should be on the roof of the mouth and gently touches the back of the teeth in our resting tongue posture.

If we have dysfunctional breathing or breathing from the neck and shoulders, that creates a stress response. That can further drive dysfunction in the trigeminal nerve.

The trigeminal nerve innervates the muscles of the face, sinuses, and nasal cavity. It is one of the biggest nerves that we want to associate with our sympathetic nervous system, our fight or flight system. It is also deeply connected to the vagus nerve.

Our vagus nerve is 80% of our parasympathetic nervous system. These two nerves are bringing information to the brain and affect transmitters such as serotonin and noradrenaline, which are linked to neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Ultimately, when we have dysfunction or miscommunication in these nerves, whether the sympathetic nervous system is increased or the parasympathetic nervous system is decreased,  then this can contribute to jaw pain. 

Most often, you’ll see clenching and grinding at night. Our reticular activating system is part of our brainstem and when we’re sleeping, our cerebrum is at rest and our reticular activating system is that alert system that is going to tell us if our child is crying.  Think of it as our survival mechanism. So during sleep is often where we’ll start to see the sympathetic overdrive kick in. 

Takehome Message

The take-home message is that there is truly a jaw-emotion link. If you’re suffering from TMJ, have your airway evaluated. It is important to make sure that there are no structural abnormalities that are contributing to it. However, you also want to dive into the emotional aspect of it. Explore your emotions, learn how to regulate your nervous system, try many of my vagus nerve hacks, speak to a professional. Find what works for you. 

I hope this was helpful if it was please give it a share with your friends and family. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Trapezius Twist

Is your anxiety or depression coming from your gut?

Is your anxiety and/or depression coming from your gut? So many people are suffering from anxiety and/or depression, so it’s important to look at the connections between the gut and the brain, and the gut’s influence on mood and behavior. This is an important aspect of looking at mental health and addressing some underlying physical causes. 

The gut-brain connection is fascinating, and it is essentially our bidirectional communication between our gut and brain. It has multiple pathways, including the hormonal, immune system, and nervous systems. For the purpose of today, let’s focus on two aspects: the hormonal and nervous systems.

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The hormonal connection is based on neurotransmitters which are essentially chemical messengers; we also refer to them as hormones. They are signaling from the gut to the brain and the brain to the gut. We have 90% of our serotonin, which is our hormone that provides feelings of happiness, located in our gut. 50% is the dopamine in our gut, which is our feel-good hormone. We also have GABA, gamma amino butyric acid, which decreases feelings of stress and anxiety. All of these are located in our gut! Therefore, gut issues, infections, inflammatory diets can influence our mood and behavior. 

Our gut bacteria form these neurotransmitters, so different strains of bacteria will influence these different neurotransmitters. For example, Streptococcus and Enterococcus produce serotonin. Escherichia produces norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin. Bacillus species also produce norepinephrine and dopamine. Bifidobacterium produces GABA. Lactobacillus species influence our acetylcholine, which is important for relaxation response, and GABA. 

The nervous system pathways of the gut-brain connection, on the other hand,  primarily exist through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve originates from the brainstem; it’s the 10th cranial nerve, and it’s actually a pair of nerves. It innervates muscles of the face, throat, heart, respiration, digestion, and our entire elimination track. It is one of the most important nerves of our digestive system. Therefore, we are influencing this gut-to-brain connection when we are either stimulating the gut from a viscera and/or probiotics or vagus nerve stimulation exercises such as breathing. 

It is imperative that we begin to look more closely at these powerful connections and that we look beyond the genetic and environmental components to see why someone may be experiencing anxiety and depression or other mental health issues. Things such as leaky gut, SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), systemic inflammation, inflammatory foods, and the standard American diet will undoubtedly influence these neurotransmitters and the vagus nerve. This attributes to changes in our serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels, thereby impacting our mood and behavior. 

What can you do about it? Find a functional medicine provider to help you navigate the physical causes of anxiety and depression. You could also start with testing: leaky gut, SIBO, stool testing to look at your microbiome. 

You can also start by making small changes. Focus on eating an anti-inflammatory diet, optimizing your sleep, and working on stress reduction connections.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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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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polyvygal chart
Adapted by Ruby Jo Walker with permission

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? According to Deb Dana, there is a simple and effective approach in her book, the Polyvagal Theory in Therapy.

  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.

For more on Deb Dana’s work and her Polyvagal resources visit: www.rhythmofregulation.com.


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:

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Dana, D., & Porges, S. W. (2018). The polyvagal theory in therapy: Engaging the rhythm of regulation. W.W. Norton & Company.

Porges, S. W., Porges, S. W., & Porges, S. W. (2011). The polyvagal theory: Neurophysiological foundations of emotions, attachment, communication, and self-regulation. First Edition ; the pocket guide to the polyvagal theory: The transformative power of feeling safe. first edition. W.W. Norton & Company.

ROSENBERG, S. T. A. N. L. E. Y. (2019). Accessing the healing power of the vagus nerve: Self-exercises for anxiety, depression, trauma, … and autism. READHOWYOUWANT COM LTD.