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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Other things that may interest you:

WHY DO YOU HAVE CRAVINGS | 4 reasons

Top 5 Vagus Nerve Hacks to Help You Relax and Restore

What To Eat To Improve Your Nerve Health | 10 NUTRIENTS

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

The truth about your thyroid

Are you a person that sets a New Year’s resolution every year, but doesn’t quite follow through with it? Maybe you know a lot of friends and family members that set goals, but by the end of the year, you ask them if they’ve done them

Did you know that one in seven adults is diagnosed with an underactive thyroid and 60% of the people with a thyroid condition are unaware that they even have an issue? Hashimotos thyroiditis is an autoimmune disease and affects 1-2 % of the population.  It is also more common in women than in men. It is really important to understand the common signs and symptoms, risk factors, proper testing, why do you get thyroid issues, and why is it so prevalent?

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that sits underneath the Adam’s apple. It is important for just about every organ system in our body. It secretes two hormones, T3 (Triodothyronine)and T4 (Thyroxine) and the thyroid impacts everything such as body temperature, metabolism, growth and development, brain development, among many other important essential functions in our body.

What are some things that can happen when the thyroid goes awry? The ten most common symptoms of an underactive thyroid are:

  1. Dry skin and hair
  2. Weight gain
  3. Fatigue
  4. Hair loss
  5. Menstrual irregularities
  6. Edema
  7. Muscle/joint aches
  8. Constipation
  9. Depression
  10. Cold intolerance

What are the things that disrupt the thyroid?

1. Stress

When we think about the hierarchy of how our thyroid might be affected, number one is always the adrenals. So when we have chronic activation of our stress pathway that means that we are chronically releasing cortisol. Cortisol negatively impacts our thyroid function. Our adrenals impact our thyroid which then in turn can impact our sex hormones. If we want to think about reverse engineering why you may have gotten a thyroid condition or how we would want to address the root cause, it’s important to always include stress management as part of the equation.

2. Toxins, infections, radiation, medications

Other things that will impact the conversion of T4 to T3 are things like infections, radiation, medications, trauma, and toxins. Examples of toxins are things like herbicides, pesticides, cleaning chemicals, and plastic water bottles.  Take the Toxic Exposure Questionnaire HERE. Medications such as Lithium, used to treat bipolar disorder, various cancer drugs, and Amiodarone, used to make the heart beat more regularly, can contribute to hypothyroidism.

3. Nutrient deficiencies

Some of our key nutrient deficiencies that will drive thyroid dysfunction because the thyroid needs these things for proper conversion are ferritin (iron), vitamin D, Vitamin A selenium, zinc, and iodine. These are all key players in making sure that we are identifying the root cause of the thyroid dysfunction and also treating it appropriately.

Testing

Now that you know the common symptoms and causes, let’s look at testing. As it relates to testing, the most common lab value that is tested is TSH, the thyroid-stimulating hormone. This is a reflection of the pituitary gland, the master gland, which is what secretes this particular hormone. When thyroid levels are low in the body. The pituitary gland will make even more TSH.  This can be totally normal and you can still have thyroid dysfunction. So, it is necessary, and critical, to have a full thyroid panel if you are suspecting symptoms. I would look at the patient’s history, clinical presentation, risk factors, and then determine if thyroid testing is appropriate. But, you need a full panel. That would include your TSH, Free T3, Free T4, total T3, reverse T3, TPO antibodies, and thyroglobulin antibodies. It is important to have all of those to get a full picture of what’s happening and you can look at specific ratios.

If you’ve been dealing with any of these issues please make sure to reach out so that we can help guide you on the right path.  Recognize that hormone replacement is appropriate, in many cases, and it’s just a matter of finding the root cause so that you’re not just simply putting a Band-Aid on what’s happening. That’s why it’s really necessary to figure out what nutrient deficiencies you may have and what potential toxins you have been exposed that are contributing to your condition. You want to make sure that you continue to work towards finding the underlying causes of your thyroid condition, so that you can continue to feel your best, and living the life that you deserve.

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

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4 REASONS YOU SHOULD RECONSIDER NSAIDS

Do you have arthritis and you’ve been told by your physician that you should be taking some kind of anti-inflammatory and/or pain medications? You’ve maybe settled on Ibuprofen, or perhaps you have tried some prescription medications. Well, let’s talk about why we may want to reconsider.

Let’s start by saying that osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition. It is important to recognize all the potentially inflammatory triggers that could be impacting your pain and function: food, bugs, toxins, trauma (both physical and emotional), and hormone dysfunction. Let’s not forget the movement compensations over many years that are also contributing to your painful patterns. It is not simply that you have poor genetics, or you played football when you’re younger, or you hurt your knee many years ago. Those may play into it but they are definitely not the only driver and you do not need to be debilitated by your pain and function. There are many negative side effects of NSAIDs.

1. Impacts the GI System

It can significantly impact your GI system. It can affect the lining of the GI system, even in the stomach, and can contribute to GI bleeds. Now let’s remember that 70 percent of your immune system is in your gut. If you are negatively impacting your gut lining by taking NSAIDs regularly, then you are impacting your ability to regulate inflammation. Remember, osteoarthritis is inflammatory.

2. Linked to Heart Issues

NSAIDs have been linked to more heart attacks, strokes, and other heart-related conditions.

3. Affects Kidneys

It can impact your kidneys and the blood flow to the kidneys.

4. Decreases Pain Threshold

Your pain threshold is lower. So, what may have just been a little bit of pain, such as a one or two out of 10 is now a five or six. This is because you cannot manage or process pain as you could before with chronic NSAID use.

This goes without saying but physical therapists are the best way to improve your overall function, decrease pain, and help you to do exactly what you want to do. Please reach out to us we would love to help you. Also focusing on things like breathing, yoga, meditation, all of the things have been shown to help with being able to manage pain more effectively.

I know that you think I might suggest ice or heat, but we’re going to ditch those. Neither one of them is going to have a positive or therapeutic impact on your arthritis. It may feel good, but it is not doing anything to help. When you’re using ice it’s decreasing blood flow to the area creating vasoconstriction, so it does not decrease inflammation despite what people think. Also, heat can potentially bring a little bit of blood flow to the area, but it’s such superficial heat that it’s very minimal. Although it might feel good once again it is not necessarily doing anything to improve your function. You want to try to move as much as possible because that has been shown over and over again through research that is the most effective treatment for arthritis.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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

WHY DO YOU HAVE CRAVINGS | 4 reasons

Did you ever wonder why you get cravings and why these cravings can be so overpowering they prevent you from sticking to your nutrition plan? There are four key reasons for cravings.

1. Dopamine response

You may have heard someone say they’re addicted to sugar or you may even be addicted to sugar. Sugar can cause a dopamine response, just like it can with things like alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. This can cause a neurochemical and biochemical response in the body, therefore attributing to cravings. Think of it as a feed-forward mechanism.

2. Gut bacteria

We have a trillion different bacteria in our gut that all like different things like fiber, carbohydrates, and fat. When we don’t give them what they want they get pissed off. These specific bacteria are, in essence, seeking out certain foods so it’s important that we have a diverse healthy diet filled with lots of antioxidants and phytonutrients. If we feed it with exactly what it needs and wants, we won’t have cravings for other things, perhaps like carbohydrates, salt, or sugar.

3. Habits

You may go hours and hours without eating and without checking in with your body, and then all of a sudden, you are starving. This is a perfect example of how your habits and not being internally aware of what you need can attribute to your poor eating habits and choices. This will impact the cravings that you have for sugar, carbohydrates, and energy-rich foods that are giving you a quick burst of energy because you have let the tank stay empty way too long.

4. Blood sugar

This is really imperative in making sure that you are decreasing cravings. Let’s start with the basics. Every four to six hours you should be eating unless you are hungry. Now there are some exceptions if you are doing intermittent fasting. If there is already some existing blood sugar dysregulation, that would mean that you probably have to eat a little bit sooner than that, but ultimately that is our goal. Now to do that, we have to have a balance of nutrients; a protein, a healthy fat, and a fiber source. If we’re getting these balanced meals every four to six hours, then we should be able to keep our blood sugar stabilized. If you happen to just wake up, eat a bunch of sugar and carbohydrates such as oatmeal with honey and blueberries, our blood sugar is going to go way up, and then crashing down. Then, you will crave carbohydrates. So, make sure you are consistently incorporating a protein, a fat, and a fiber source in each of your meals to optimize your blood sugar control and prevent cravings.

In essence, being able to regulate cravings is within your control 100 percent. There are lots of ways to address it. Even if you have some preexisting health conditions, like insulin resistance, or dysregulation of your blood sugars, etc.; this could impact your cravings. However, try to work on these key fundamental things so that you can decrease your cravings and ultimately feel your best.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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

What is SIBO?| Is this the cause of your digestive issues?

Have you heard about SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) or perhaps you’ve been diagnosed with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) but you don’t know what to do about it? You may be wondering  if this is the cause of your digestive issues? Is this what’s making you feel so terrible? Let’s start by saying that SIBO is very complex and there is not one easy roadmap to treat SIBO. It is really important to understand what it is, the anatomy behind it, the risk factors, some of the symptoms that you could experience, and most importantly, the underlying causes. SIBO is exactly what it sounds like, an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. It is not necessarily an imbalance between the good and bad bacteria, although it can be pathogenic, it is in essence, an overgrowth. The small intestine is meant for digestion and absorption of nutrients, where the large intestine is meant to house our beneficial bacteria. When we have a backflow of this bacteria into the small intestine, that’s when we can begin to overpopulate and have an overgrowth.

Let’s go over some brief functional anatomy so that you understand what’s happening. When you start chewing your food, you produce salivary enzymes to help begin the digestive process. The food is then passed through our esophagus, i.e. the food pipe, into the stomach. The stomach begins to produce hydrochloric acid (HCL) to break down the food even further. We have our gallbladder that releases bile to help break down the food moving into the small intestine. Our pancreas is also releasing enzymes to help further break down this food. Once the food moves into the small intestine which is 18 to 25 feet long, so it’s not small, digestion and absorption of nutrients occurs. The small intestine connect into our large intestine. There’s an ileocecal valve that prevents any backflow. From here, we then move the food into our rectum for waste removal. We can think of the large intestine as the house for the good bacteria and our storage for waste and excretion.

What symptoms can you have with SIBO?

One of the most frequent complaints is bloating. This is when the gases build-up from the bacteria eating the food. When the gas is releases, it causes pressure or distension in the abdomen. The small intestine is not made for any kind of buildup. When this buildup occurs and we’re not able to process it or digest it properly, this is when you can begin to have symptoms of nausea and acid reflux. The other two symptoms that are very common are constipation and/or diarrhea. You may have both and it could be alternating, or you could gravitate more towards one or the other. This can often be referred to as SIBO-C or SIBO-D. In addition to all the common digestive complaints associated with SIBO such as constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux, cramping, and abdominal pain, you can also have other health issues. This can range from skin issues to significant fatigue to anxiety or depression, and the list goes on.

What are the risk factors for SIBO?

1. Disease states. That can be an autoimmune disease or any other chronic disease that can be a driving factor.

2. Surgery. Specifically abdominal surgeries that create adhesions from scar tissue. This can impact the motility of the small intestine.

3. Medications. This can be any kind of pharmaceutical drugs or antibiotics that you may have been taking, chemotherapy, etc. All of these can drive SIBO.

Now, what are the underlying causes of SIBO?

This is often much more difficult to figure out, and sometimes requires a lot of investigation. The underlying cause essentially is when the system fails. When this protection mode and the normal process of digestion is not happening the way that it should. This can happen for various reasons.

1. If we do not have the appropriate amount of stomach acid in the stomach to be able to begin to break down food properly.

2. If there is an enzyme deficiency, which means that you do not have the capability of being able to break down food and absorb the nutrients.

3. The immune system. Seventy percent of the immune system is in our gut specifically in the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT). You can appreciate that if this system begins to fail and our immune system becomes more heightened, this can be an underlying cause of SIBO.

If you have IBS or have chronic digestive issues, you may look into this as a possible cause. You can get tested for SIBO here.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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THE SCIENCE OF KNOWING WHAT TO DO BUT NOT DOING IT | 6 Mindset Hacks

Did you ever wonder why you know exactly what you should be doing to make your life better, happier, healthier, but you don’t do it? You keep saying next week, next year, in five years, but it never really becomes a reality. We have all been there but let’s talk about the science of why that happens and what you can do about it. To put it simply, we are humans and we all have emotion. With that, we are naturally going to gravitate towards pleasure and away from pain. Say for example, Friday night rolls around, and your spouse or significant other wants to order pizza. You’ve had a long week so even though you’re planning to have a salad, you go for the pizza. Another example is sleeping in versus working out in the morning. The reality is that we consistently overcomplicate things. We make them way too complex for what they need to be.

Your subconscious mind is 99 percent of your mind. This is the house of all of your past experiences. This includes your memories, beliefs, and unresolved emotions. This is the domain of your habits. Our conscious mind, however is one percent of our mind and is responsible for our thoughts, goals, awareness of self. For us to be able to set a goal and be able to succeed at it, we have to align the subconscious mind with the conscious mind. Even though we know what we should do i.e. our conscious mind, our subconscious mind is a million times faster and much more powerful. If those two are not aligned, then unfortunately we will not be able to meet our goals or set out to do what we said we were going to do. As it relates to habits, we run our day on approximately 45 percent to 95 percent on habits.  Our thoughts are actually part of our habits. We have about 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day. You can hopefully appreciate that if these conscious thoughts are overpowering our conscious mind, then we are going to default to whatever is easier. We are not necessarily going to move towards the pain, we are going to move towards pleasure, whatever is the easiest thing right now. Going back to that Friday night pizza, “I’ve had a long week and I’m tired,” so I’m just going to go back to what’s comfortable and what’s easy…pleasure.

Additionally, when we get out of our comfort zone, for example setting a goal to exercise every day, this signals fear to the body. Immediately we have chemicals released that are signaling fear and danger. So guess what happens? We also want to move towards what’s easy, what’s comfortable, and what’s pleasurable. We easily will revert back and not achieve our new year’s resolution to exercise every day.

So let’s talk about six ways that you can begin to align your subconscious mind with your conscious mind, you can begin to make your goals a reality.

1) Healthful habits

You want to develop healthful habits so that when your conscious mind gets tired from all those thoughts that are racing through your head, that your subconscious mind decides to take over and do the right thing.

2) Be aware

Be aware of your thoughts, inner voice, and most importantly the language that you are speaking to yourself. If you continue to say, “I’m never really going to get strong,” then you will not get strong. You will not necessarily work out like you’re supposed to in order to get strong. So, you want to make sure that you’re in tune with the language that you’re speaking and shift it to a productive language. “I am going to work out so that I am strong.”

3) Clarity

Have clarity about what you want, what are you striving to do, and the goal(s) that you are hoping to achieve. If you do not have clarity of your vision, dream, or goal, then it will be very challenging to allow that subconscious mind to be aligned with the conscious mind.

4) Take small action steps

This is extremely important to make sure that you are making small incremental changes, especially in your habits. Think of the first time that you were told you had to brush your teeth. Since you were a young child, you’ve been brushing your teeth every single day, at least we hope so. That’s a perfect example of how habits start.

5) Consistency

It is so crucial that for you to do what you want to do, to be consistent with your habits, day in and day out. Blocking time in your schedule, for example, to allow yourself the time to be able to perform whatever it is that you need to do. Whether that’s working out, meal prepping, or meditation. Be consistent with whatever you do so that it becomes a habit, just like brushing your teeth.

6) Celebrate

Celebrate your successes! This is where we can have serotonin and dopamine responses that can improve that feeling of happiness, as well as reward and motivation. It keeps you motivated to keep doing what you’re doing to keep this habit going to make sure that it’s truly part of your life.

There are six different ways to help you align your subconscious mind with your conscious mind, allow you to achieve your goals, and do what you say you are going to do.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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

THE TRUTH ABOUT YOUR BELLY FAT

Do you have abdominal fat that you just cannot seem to get rid of? You’ve tried different nutrition plans and exercise programs, and it just won’t budge. You also know that there is a lot of risk of having abdominal weight gain, but you’re just not sure what to do about it. Although you may not want to hear this, abdominal weight gain is linked to high cortisol levels, which is one of our key stress hormones that is released during the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis, our stress pathway. When we have chronic stress, we have chronic cortisol release, among other stress hormones that are linked to abdominal weight gain, obesity, and increased visceral and subcutaneous fat.

There are two types of fat that we’ll see in the abdominal region, one of which is subcutaneous fat, and two is visceral fat. Subcutaneous fat produces helpful hormones, one of which is leptin which suppresses your appetite and helps to burn fat. Two is adiponectin which helps regulate fats and sugars.  So, if there’s any increased abdominal fat, then this will impact the production and function of these hormones. The visceral fat will be found around the liver, intestines, other organs, and even underneath the abdominal wall. An interesting thing about visceral fat is that the more visceral fat you have, the harder and thicker it becomes. It becomes denser, so that’s when you may feel that your stomach feels hard and not as elastic as it once did. This of course can increase inches to your waistline. In addition to that, you also have increased cytokines in your visceral fat. There are more cytokines in the visceral fat than there are in subcutaneous fat. These proteins are linked to low-level inflammation and inflammation is linked to many chronic diseases. Lastly, it also releases more retinol-binding protein, which will contribute to more insulin resistance.

Based on research, having increased abdominal fat is linked to colorectal cancer, dementia, asthma, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Just remember that abdominal weight gain does not discriminate among genders. So, men and women both can get abdominal weight gain. Women are more susceptible to it after they’ve gone through menopause because their estrogen levels have decreased, which is linked to high cortisol levels over time and chronic activation of the stress pathway.

Now, what can you do about it?

1) Stress management: This could include practicing mindfulness, meditation, journaling, speaking to a counselor, and trying to be aware of your responses during your day to day actions of life. We cannot get rid of stress, but we can learn how to respond to our stressors more effectively. We can respond with clarity and creativity, rather than reacting. When we can begin to do this we can shift our nervous system into a state of more social engagement, safety, a grounded, mindful state rather than in a fight or flight or freeze state.

2) Anti-inflammatory diet: This can be very challenging for many people. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is filled with processed, high sugar, high fat foods. Aim to have a diet low in sugar, processed foods, and try to eat more clean and natural whole foods.

3) Exercise. First, determine what level of exercise is appropriate for you. If you are in a state of chronic stress, then doing high-intensity interval training is not appropriate because that is also a stressor that can put you into a state of complete overload. Identify the appropriate level of exercise, be consistent with your exercise, and remember that exercise is not the same as movement. We exercise 30 minutes a day, but we should be moving all day long. We should be consistently increasing our movement levels, which means sitting for no more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time before we get up and move our bodies. Our bodies are meant to move, they crave movement, and if we don’t do it, we lose it.

4) Sleep. Sleep is more important than nutrition and exercise combined. Aim for seven to nine hours a night.  But, It’s not only about how much sleep you’re getting but it’s about the quality of sleep you’re getting. How much REM and deep sleep are you getting? Are you giving yourself enough time to down-regulate your nervous system before you go to sleep, are you using your phone up late at night or watching TV and stimulating your nervous system as opposed to calming it down and preparing for a restoration process? If you are chronically sleep deprived, this will increase the stress response in your body and contribute to weight gain, specifically around the mid-section.

Good luck in addressing your abdominal weight gain, i.e. stress belly.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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

GUT-BRAIN CONNECTION 101

The gut-brain connection is so powerful in your immune health, hormonal health, and nervous system. If you’ve ever had a gut feeling then you know exactly what the gut-brain connection is. The gut-brain connection is a bi-directional communication between the gut and the brain. The gut, meaning our second nervous system or our enteric nervous system, and our brain, our first nervous system. This bi-directional communication happens through multiple pathways, including hormonal, immune, and our nervous system.  The objective of the gut-brain connection is to maintain normal gut function, as well as appropriate behavior.

The first brain has 100 billion neurons and our second brain, our gut has about 500 million neurons. You can see how powerful this neural connection is, and this neural connection happens primarily through the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve originates in the brainstem and then wanders down to the gut. It signals in both directions. For example, if you are getting anxious about a presentation that you have to give you might feel that in your stomach, but if you are eating some kind of inflammatory foods, then that can cause you to potentially feel anxious.

Now, the next connection is hormonal, and this is based on the neurotransmitters or the chemical messengers that we have that communicate between the gut and the brain. Ninety percent of our serotonin is located in the gut that is produced by the gut bacteria. Serotonin is provides us with a sense of happiness. We also produce 50 percent of our dopamine, our feel-good hormone, in our gut. Another hormone we produce is called GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid), which decreases feelings of stress and anxiety.

Last but not least, our gut-brain in connected via immune pathways. Seventy percent of our immune system is in our gut. So, when we have any kind of gut issue, we typically have an immune or inflammatory issue. In the case of leaky gut, for example, when you begin to have pathogens and toxins that are crossing the epithelial lining and moving into the bloodstream, this is going to cause an immune reaction. If this continues, this can cause a leaky brain because those pathogens and potentially undigested food can cross the blood-brain barrier causing inflammation in the brain feeling things like brain fog. So, as you can see there is a very strong immune system connection as well.

You may be asking, what can I do to optimize my gut-brain connection? The first thing you can do is try to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, which simply means a whole food, natural, clean diet. Make sure that there are lean proteins, healthy fats, and lots of vegetables and fruits. If you are experiencing any specific gut or health issues, please make sure to reach out to us we’d be more than happy to help you.  We can see you virtually or in person.

The next thing is to manage stress. Stress is one of the biggest things that can impact the gut-brain connection on both levels. You can help to decrease your stress through mindfulness, meditation, breath work, yoga, journaling, reading, or whatever is helpful for you, perhaps even speaking with someone.

Next, is making sure you’re getting enough sleep. Also make sure that you’re getting an optimal amount of sleep as well as quality sleep.

Lastly is movement. Instead of thinking of exercising 30 minutes a day, try to just move as frequently as you can throughout the day. This will help to optimize your immune system, nervous system, as well as your hormonal system by getting in regular quality movement.

I hope this helps you become more successful and achieving what you want in your life and your health.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

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

UNLOCK THE POWER OF EXTREME FOCUS | Wake up your Reticular Activating System

Do you want to unlock the power of extreme focus and be able to use your mental energy to do whatever you want? Well, let’s start by waking up the reticular activating system of your brain.

Have you ever decided to buy a car, or if you’ve bought a car and you’ve picked a certain color and now you see that everywhere? When I decided that I wanted a jeep, I began to see jeeps everywhere. When I bought a jeep, I realized that the roads are inundated with Jeep’s. My Reticular Activating System has brought to my attention, to my consciousness, that all these Jeeps were around all along, but now, I am noticing them. The Reticular Activating System (RAS) is a bundle of neurons located inside of the Reticular Formation, which is in the brainstem. This is the most primitive part of our brain. The Reticular Formation is responsible for cardiovascular function, pain perception, sleep cycle, consciousness, and habituation, which is directly linked to the Reticular Activating System.

The Reticular Activating System is responsible for our wakefulness, our ability to focus, our fight-flight response, and how you ultimately perceive the world. It can control what we perceive in our consciousness, essentially a gatekeeper of information. When we are at a restaurant and we’re speaking to our friend or significant other, we can tune out all of the extra noise that’s happening, and be able to focus in on the conversation that we’re having. That is a perfect example of the RAS at work because otherwise our system would be overwhelmed and just inundated with constant sensory information. The RAS acts as this gatekeeper so that we can focus our attention on specific things, and remember… these specific things can help us meet the goals that we’ve set for ourselves.

How can you wake up your RAS so that you can have extreme focus, better sleep/wake cycles, and be able to have a deeper consciousness and intention throughout your life? Read on.

1) Evaluating the head and neck position. If you have had a concussion, some kind of traumatic brain injury, a sports injury, whiplash from a car accident, or just chronic overuse and repetitive stress injuries; you could have some type of misalignment in the cervical spine. This can cause compression on the brainstem and affect cranial nerve innervation.  As the head comes forward into this extended posture it can create compression, and therefore decrease blood flow around the brainstem for the cranial nerves and the reticular activating system to function at its optimal capacity. So, reach out to your physical therapist or movement expert to help you with this.

2) Vestibular/Visual Exercises: The RAS is connected to our vestibular system, so think of our inner ear, and the connection with our visual system. A great exercise to do is to hold your finger out in front of you, keeping your eyes focused on your fingertip, and then turning your head back and forth. As you’re continuing to gaze right at your fingertip, you can start to move your head side to side, then you can go up and down, and you can even go on a diagonal.

3) Meditation: Meditation is a fantastic way to be able to use your senses to hone in on your present experience and filter out whatever is unnecessary. Of course, just like anything meditation is a practice that needs to be cultivated over time, but probably one of the best ways to begin to tap into the power of the RAS. This can help bring you clarity and focus to allow you to reach your goals.

4) Turning your brain on the exact messages that you want:  If you want a silver Jeep, start thinking about the silver Jeep. It’s that simple. If you want to be confident in a dress that you want to wear, then start thinking about it. If you keep thinking that you can’t do that, you keep getting distracted from my goals, you keep thinking about all the things that you haven’t done or you can’t do, then unfortunately you will not be directing your attention, focus, or drive and activating this RAS to achieve what you want. So start thinking about what you want in your life, and use that as a way to really drive your conscious behavior and therefore your subconscious behaviors.

I hope this helps you become more successful and achieving what you want in your life and your health.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule.

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