Why You Should Track Your HRV

Do you know that there is such a simple way to track the state of your nervous system, your resiliency, and your readiness to perform in life or sport?

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What is heart rate variability (HRV)?

Essentially, HRV is the inter-beat between the heartbeat, so it is different than your heart rate. It is a measure of the autonomic nervous system. Because of that, heart rate variability is the best way to measure vagal tone.

You’ve heard me talk many times about vagal nerve function. It’s a way for us to see how well recovered our nervous system is, therefore, how ready we are to take on life stressors. Ultimately, it plays into our emotional resilience as well.

Personally, I find that tracking heart rate variability is one of our greatest technological advancements. The fact that we can objectively measure our nervous system, to me, is simply fascinating.

How to track your HRV

First, I want to disclose that I am not an affiliate of these tracking devices, which there are many.  I have found, however, that in my personal experience and professional experience, some tools have been extremely valuable.

I personally used the Whoop watch for over three years and found that to be extremely valuable. It helped me understand the patterns of my HRV, my recovery, and how sleep, alcohol, stress, foods, and exercise affected it.

I also recommend the Oura ring, which is another great tracking device to look at not only the HRV but, of course, but all of the other things that factor into your HRV. This is great if you don’t want to wear a watch. The rings are quite fashionable, might I add.

And currently, I’m using Elite HRV, which is a chest monitor, along with a free app, that is super easy to do. Every morning, you can take your morning readiness score. You can wake up and have your chest monitor on. You can get your baseline heart rate variability and resting heart rate to be able to see what your readiness is for that day. Are you sympathetic or parasympathetic? Are you ready to perform? The Elite HRV is a really valuable tool. It’s easy to use; you don’t have to wear a watch or a ring. You can also use this for biofeedback to change your HRV before you start your day with things like paced breathing, for example.

I think all of these tools and more — Fitbits, Apple watches, Garmin — can be valuable tools.  It depends on what is most practical and appropriate for you, like wearing a watch, ring, or chest strap, for example. The goal is that you’re tracking it consistently, so finding the tracker that works for you is very important.

What is a good HRV?

This is a tough question. There is no specific number that you are trying to achieve, and that is why it’s important that you track your heart rate variability over time. There are some numbers that different companies have done research on to determine what is their average population’s heart rate variability. For example, Elite HRV has tested over 72,000 people, and they have suggested that the average HRV is around 58. This may include a more athletic population, so the heart rate variability might be higher.

Now, ultimately, a higher heart rate variability is better than a low heart rate variability for looking at average. Different populations also might have lower heart rate variabilities, so it’s really important to determine what yours is. Therefore, once again, tracking over time is necessary.

The above devices, as long as you’re consistent, will help you determine what your best heart rate variability is in addition to your best readiness score and how well your autonomic nervous system is recovered.

Tips

1. Remember that a high heart rate variability is not always a good thing, and a low heart rate variability is not always a bad thing.

Although I just mentioned that overall that’s a positive thing, just because you have an outlier of a really high number one particular day, that could actually mean that it’s signaling you may be getting sick, you’re having an immune response, or you are in a deep state of recovery. You may not be ready to perform! You may need rest and recovery.

The same applies with a low heart rate variability. It is not always a bad thing. If you had a really intense workout or a competition day, for example, you would have taxed your nervous system.

In summary, both of those are okay, and any outliers don’t necessarily mean something’s good or something’s bad.

2. Have a consistent time that you’re assessing your heart rate variability

The great thing is that most tracking devices will naturally do this. For example, with the Whoop watch and the Oura ring, you’re going to wake up in the morning and look at your HRV and other scores. With the Elite HRV, you can monitor first thing in the morning, same position, etc., to ensure consistency.

3. Track trends

Although heart rate variability by itself is a particular score, and it’s giving us information, it does not at all tell us why you have that. That’s the work you have to do!

Here are the things that you want to think about. How was your sleep last night? Did you get seven to eight hours? A lot of the tracking devices can do that as well. Do you feel well rested? Did you have a tremendous amount of stress yesterday? Did you do an intense workout yesterday? Did you not work out at all? Did you sit all day? Did you have a lot of caffeine? Did you eat really well or crappy? What kind of stress are you under? Are super busy and overwhelmed? Are you feeling like you’re just ruminating over a certain thought?

All of those things are going to factor into your nervous system and how well your nervous system is recovered.

You really want to be diligent about tracking those things, whether that’s through the device or independently, to really understand your trends. This allows you to make positive changes going forward.

In summary, heart rate variability is an amazing way to track your resilience and your recovery, and I can’t recommend it enough. I’m not suggesting you have to track forever, but you want to track until you don’t need to track anymore. You want to track until you really understand your health habits and all the things that you can control to really optimize how you feel.

I hope this was helpful. If it was, give it a like, give it a share, and subscribe to our youtube channel, The Movement Paradigm, for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Make sure you reach out to us for our upcoming Vagus nerve program that starts on September 19th. We would love to have you deep-dive into concepts like this and many others. Register here.

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Optimize all 3 brains

Optimize all 3 brains

We have three brains that all have complex neural networks that need to work together in sync, for us to be able to live our best lives — our heart, brain, and gut.

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The connection between the heart, brain, and the gut

You’ve definitely experienced these connections in your lives so far. For example, when you’ve had butterflies in your stomach, when you were nervous to speak in front of people, or when you just followed your heart and made a decision based on that. 

There are so many instances where you have felt and experienced these deep connections. And these three brains, these three independent nervous systems, our heart, our brain, and our gut, are so powerful in how we communicate, listen, and make decisions.  

The brain

We have our first brain, which has billions of neurons that are constantly creating new wiring and information. It allows us to be able to have memory, communicate, have language, and to be able to have conscious thought and perception. It’s also where our limbic system is, the emotional center of our brain. 

Gut

Our second nervous system, our gut, is responsible for digestion and all of the metabolic functions associated with that. The gut allows us to absorb and process the nutrients we get from our food. It’s not only important for all the different enzymatic reactions in the body, but it also has neurotransmitters like serotonin. 

Ninety percent of our serotonin, for example, is in our gut and is formed by the bacteria in the gut microbiome. 

The gut has a huge role in hormonal and immune function, too. 

Heart

Our heart functions independently outside of the brain. We have numerous electrical and chemical reactions happening. Our heart brain acts as our emotional center. As mentioned previously, when we “follow our heart,” we are “following our emotions.” 

The common link between the three brains

What is the common link among all three of these nervous systems? The vagus nerve.

The vagus nerve is the common connection. It exits the brainstem, moves into the carotid sinus of the heart, the SA node of the heart, and then innervates the entire digestive tract. This is the common link where more information comes from the viscera to the brain, called afferent information. 

How to optimize the three brains

The one simple way that we can optimize all three of these brains at the same time is diaphragmatic breathing.

There are so many different types of breathing, such as pranayama breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, and box breathing.

The key is diaphragmatic breathing.  Place the tongue at the roof of the mouth, gently touching the top teeth. Inhaling through the nose, allowing the abdomen to expand 360 degrees, and exhaling through the nose, letting the belly button move towards the spine, allowing the abdomen to contract and the ribs to come down. You could do this seated or lying down, whichever you prefer.  

Tapping into our most optimal breathing pattern (ideally, you’re working towards 5.5 seconds in and 5.5 seconds out) is where we really get a lot of benefit from diaphragmatic breathing; we are stimulating the vagus nerve.

Stimulating the vagus nerve creates a release of acetylcholine, which creates that relaxation response. We are creating GI motility because the diaphragm moves down into the abdomen as you inhale, and as you exhale, the diaphragm moves back up. Think of it like you’re massaging the vagus nerve. 

Of course, as it relates to the relaxation response, you’re creating a calming effect here, so we’re not in that fight or flight limbic system, but we can move more towards our prefrontal cortex in our brain, where we have more insight and rationale, while we are able to consciously and deliberately make better decisions. We’re able to listen more attentively.

Diaphragmatic breathing, I always say, is your superpower; you have it within you, so please make sure to use this throughout your day, regularly and repeatedly. I tell my patients to take three diaphragmatic breaths every hour.

To one connect all these brains, bring yourself to a parasympathetic state through breathing so that you can think and act more clearly and respond rather than react. 

If you need help with your overall health, please schedule your discovery session here: https://p.bttr.to/3qHXz8i

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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Neuroscience Hack | 15 minutes exercise

If you’re like me, you’re always trying to learn a new skill. Did you know that exercising for 15 minutes after you perform or learn a new skill can help you retain it much better?

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What you need to know about learning a new skill

I think most of us can agree that when you’re trying to learn a new skill, whether that’s a musical instrument or a new movement skill, it can be quite challenging and daunting. Even though you may be able to learn it, how well are you able to retain that until your next practice session? This of course involves a whole host of different things.

From a neuroscience standpoint, research shows that performing a bout of exercise for 15 minutes following some type of motor skill can improve the connectivity and retention of that particular skill.

For example, if you are learning the guitar and you practice for five to 10 minutes, then you would perform a 15-minute bout of exercise immediately after, preferably more cardiovascular-based. This could look different for each person, whether that’s walking, Animal Flow, jump rope, running, lifting, etc.

Focus on some movement that you can keep your heart rate slightly elevated for that duration. As I mentioned, this is shown to improve cognitive retention and memory. 

Among many other things, movement can help enhance learning. We should apply this concept to children. Rather than having kids sit all day long and trying to learn new material and skills, we could enhance their brain function if we focused on movement throughout the day. For example, as soon as you start walking, you light up your brain. If we can pair movement and learning together, we’re going to do much better in life. 

Make sure to give this a share and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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Top 5 Neuroscience Hacks

Do you want to do my favorite neuroscience hacks that can help improve your memory, retention, and overall cognitive health? If you’re like me and you’re constantly trying to learn new things, these can be invaluable. 

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5 Neuroscience Hacks

1. Taking a 10 Second Pause

Studies have shown that taking a 10-second pause, interspersed with trying to retain new knowledge, can help you to get a 20-fold replay. In other words, whatever information you are trying to retain, you could learn that 20-fold by taking very intentional 10-second pauses. How does this happen? It’s will affect your hippocampus and your neocortex which is critical for memory and retention. 

2. Listening to White Noise

Although some people may be distracted by white noise, many individuals that suffer from ADHD or ADD can benefit greatly too. White noise can help increase dopamine which can help with working memory. It can help tune out the background noise and help you to focus on the task at hand.  

3. Wearing Blue Light Blockers

We are stimulated by blue light all day long. However, after seven o’clock when your circadian rhythm is beginning to shift and you plan to use electronics, blue light blockers can be very helpful. It is one of the simplest things that you could do that can improve the quality of your sleep, thereby improving memory and retention. 

4. Crossing Midline

Crossing midline is a great way to connect the right and left hemispheres of our brain which is connected via the corpus callosum. When you cross midline, you’re improving coordination and communication between hemispheres, which can ultimately help you improve your learning. Something as simple as bringing your knee to your opposite elbow either in the sitting or standing position can be a great way to wake up your brain!  

5. Movement

Movement is key for learning. Sitting all day while trying to learn something new is not the most ideal way to optimize your retention. Aim to move every 30 minutes and also try moving while simultaneously learning, like walking while listening to an audiobook. 

Of course, that’s not all of the amazing things that you can do to help improve your cognitive health, memory, and retention. See what resonates with you and see if that can be integrated into your life. 

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.

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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.

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How stress affects your sex hormones

Everyone talks about how much stress can impact your health, but do you know how much it can specifically impact your hormones?

Whether you are experiencing hormonal imbalances such as heavy periods, erectile dysfunction, low libido, or even things like breast cancer or endometrial cancer, you want to make sure that you’re assessing the amount of stress that you have and more importantly, how you’re managing stress in your life.

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What you need to know about stress

When we are in a constant chronic stressed state, we have an increased release of cortisol, one of our key stress hormones.

When cortisol is increased, initially you will have a decrease in the production and manufacturing of our sex hormones such as progesterone, testosterone, androgens, and estrogens. Initially, less progesterone will contribute to a more estrogen-dominant state. This can contribute to an increase in aromatase, which is a key enzyme in estrogen metabolism. This can contribute to things like fibroids, endometriosis, and even breast cancer.

The interesting thing is when we have long periods of stress, this will decrease the production of our androgens and estrogens so this can attribute to things like hot flashes, low libido increased stress, and our ability to manage stress. 

In essence, cortisol, influenced by our ability to manage stress, will, directly and indirectly, impact our sex hormones.

How can you begin to address stress management in your life?

Although you can’t get rid of stress, you can learn how to manage it in your life. That can involve proper sleep, proper nutrition, hydration, decreasing alcohol, as well as nervous system regulation techniques.

Please be sure to check out all my vagus nerve hack videos. You can do deep breath work, meditation, yoga, animal flow, and so on. Make sure that you are scheduling time for relaxation, and not over-scheduling yourself for obligations. 

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

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Vagus Nerve Hack | Pyloric valve release | visceral release

If you’re experiencing any gut issues or stress, then this vagus nerve hack, the pyloric valve release, may be very powerful for you.

The pyloric valve connects the stomach to the small intestine. If you have increased stress, blood flows away from your digestive tract. Additionally, low fiber intake, decreased pancreatic enzyme efficiency, or low stomach acid can contribute to pyloric valve dysfunction.

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Essentially, when food is not broken down well, then the bacteria are passed downstream to the small intestine. That can cause a whole host of issues from dysbiosis and SIBO — small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

The interesting thing about the pyloric valve is that it is innervated with parasympathetic fibers as well as sympathetic fibers. The sympathetic fibers act on noradrenaline, which will increase the contraction of that sphincter. The parasympathetic fibers contribute to the relaxation of that sphincter. And that’s where the vagus nerve comes into play.

How do you perform this release? 

First, you want to locate the pyloric valve by lying on your back. You start from your umbilicus, or belly button, and come up about two inches. Everyone’s torso is going to be a little bit different, so the location of the pyloric valve will be different for every person.

Once you come up about two inches, then you should be able to feel the sphincter. It will feel like a little circle. You’ll be able to work your way into the tissue.

Once you’ve located it, you can begin to do a very gentle soft release here using a small circular motion. Then, when you do the actual pyloric valve release, move your hands over to the left, towards the stomach. Use both hands to gently pull the tissue in towards the pyloric valve. Once you gently pull the tissue over, you will hold that for one to two minutes to allow everything to relax. 

Whenever you’re doing these types of releases, think intentional, not aggressive. You want to let the tissue relax and soften. You may feel tenderness at first which is normal. It should release, however, as you continue. You do not want to perform this right after you eat.

Try doing this before bed to help down-regulate the nervous system. It’s a great way to calm the nervous system. You could also do this before you eat to bring yourself to a parasympathetic state to optimize your digestion. Enjoy! 

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

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Is intermittent fasting for you?

Have you heard about intermittent fasting? Maybe you’ve had a friend or family member who’s been successful with it and you are wondering if you should, too? Let’s dive into what intermittent fasting is, the types of fast, its potential benefits and adverse effects, and how you can incorporate it safely into your life.

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Intermittent fasting is a broad term defined as periods of feeding and restricting. This can include many different forms. Think of intermittent fasting as an umbrella term.

Here are four common ways to intermittent fast:

1. Time-Restricted Feeding

This involves prolonging the amount of time that you’re not eating and shortening the time that you’re feeding. The most common example of this is a 12 hour fast from night until the next morning. For example, eating dinner at 7:00 p.m. and then eating breakfast at 7:00 a.m. If you were prolonging that further, you could fast up to 16 hours. A 12 to 16-hour fast is most common, although more is an option as well. 

2. Alternate Day Fast

This involves eating your normal calories on one day and on the next day you have a decreased caloric intake of approximately 600 calories.

3. Modified Fasting

This could involve reducing your caloric intake by about 10 to 20% on a day or multiple days a week. You could go as little as 600 calories. 

4. Fasting Mimicking Diet

This is typically done one time per month for five days. During the five days, you would consume a ketogenic diet, which is high in fat, low in protein, and very low in carbohydrates. This would be done on five consecutive days once a month as a means of a cyclical fasting-mimicking period. 

Benefits

The next big question is what the benefits of fasting are, and there are quite a few. It is important to recognize that there are a lot of mice studies and some human studies, so there needs to be more research with greater human subject samples.

Additionally, restricted eating, intermittent fasting, carbohydrate restriction, and caloric restriction can all have similar effects on the body. Autophagy, our natural cell recycling program, can be improved through all three of these.

Shorter-term studies on mice and humans show that there can be a positive effect on insulin resistance, blood pressure, blood sugar, lipids, as well as inflammation, weight loss, and even brain health. There’s no doubt that longer-term studies on humans are needed to support the long-term benefits of sustained weight loss. 

Who should use caution?

Now, who should use caution with intermittent fasting?

First, I believe that you should work with a health practitioner to guide you and coach you to make sure that this is the right time and the right plan for you. Anyone that is frail, pregnant, has a previous eating disorder, has disordered eating should not fast.

If you have low blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, or insulin-dependent diabetes, you also should not fast. Perhaps one of the biggest reasons that is overlooked is if you have an HPA Axis dysfunction, hypothalamic pituitary adrenal dysfunction. This is our main stress pathway in our body.

If you’re under chronic stress, it is not a good idea to do intermittent fasting. This perhaps may be the sole reason why I choose to not put many of my patients on intermittent fasting because. It can be yet another stressor on their body that they can’t tolerate at this time. I’m also very cautious to do intermittent fasting with women, especially if they are dealing with existing hormonal issues, such as cortisol dysregulation, estrogen dominance, or low progesterone.

For men, however, I have found that it can be very helpful, but there are some things to think about even beyond the things I just mentioned. It depends on your specific goal if intermittent fasting will help you achieve your goal. For example, if you are lifting to build muscle mass, you have to eat more calories. Intermittent fasting may not be the best fit because it may be very hard to get in all the calories that you need in a condensed period of time. It is important to think about what your goals are, your current health conditions, or the concerns that you’re working with. 

Tips for successful fasting

If you decide to give it a try, track how you’re feeling for at least one month. If fasting is helping you meet your goals, stick with it. If it’s not, stop. It’s that simple. If it’s a way of life for you, fantastic, but it’s not and your body’s not responding the way you thought, it’s okay to change gears and move in a different direction. 

  1. Make sure that you’re drinking a lot of water. 
  2. Clean your gut and health up first. 
  3. If you are waking up and drinking bulletproof coffee with ghee and MCT oil, you have already broken the fast. If you put creamer in your coffee, you’ve broken the fast. 
  4. Build up tolerance slowly. Start at 10 hours, 11, 12, and so on. For women, I would recommend no more than 14 hours and for men up to 16. 
  5. If you feel unwell at any point, stop the fast and reconsider if this is the right approach for you? 

Having metabolic flexibility, being able to fast and feed is very powerful and is evolutionary in nature.  If you decide to, make sure you are taking all the necessary steps and track your journey.

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Vagus nerve hack: visceral sympathetic release | celiac plexus, superior/inferior mesenteric plexus

Did you know that stress can inhibit the vagus nerve? When we are stressed, we are activating our sympathetic nervous system, our “fight or flight” system.

We can access the sympathetic nervous system through our viscera. We can do specific visceral techniques on ourselves that can down-regulate the sympathetic nervous system so that we can upregulate the vagus nerve, which is the cornerstone of our parasympathetic nervous system, or “rest and digest” system.

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How stress affects our viscera

Stress can affect us in so many ways, but let’s specifically speak to how it affects our viscera.

Stress inhibits or turns down the vagus nerve, which is what innervates our entire digestive tract. If we are stressed, blood flow moves away from the digestive system. If we’re in a sympathetic state, we are not able to digest, assimilate, and even eliminate our food as well as we should.

Additionally, if we have a high vagal tone, then we will have good protective epithelial or gut barrier function. If we are in a constant fight or flight system, then, unfortunately, we don’t have that protective barrier that can contribute to things like leaky gut, IBS, and even inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). 

So what can you do about it?

The visceral sympathetic release technique is something you can do on yourself that can downregulate your sympathetic nervous system. You can target the celiac plexus, the superior mesenteric plexus, and the inferior mesenteric plexus, which are all nerve bundles part of this system

While you’re lying down, you want to assess each of these three areas. 

  1. You will start about an inch under the xiphoid process, which is the bone right under your sternum. That is your celiac plexus. 
  2. Then, move down to halfway between your xiphoid process (bottom of your sternum) and your belly button to your superior mesenteric plexus. 
  3. About one inch above your belly button is your inferior mesenteric plexus. 

Assess for a temperature, edema, or tenderness in each of these areas. Wherever you notice any kind of restriction, decreased elasticity, swelling, or soreness, then that’s the area you want to address. As with any type of release, you want to have a very gentle approach, especially with the viscera. You are manipulating fascia, which does not need to be aggressive. You want to be very intentional about your technique and your pressure.

This is a great opportunity for you to tune in to your own body and viscera. As you move through the technique, you’ll find the key areas that you want to release and proceed to hold each spot. You can use both fingers, one on top of the other, to sink into the tissue until you feel one of those shifts in what you’re assessing.

Is there a decrease in tenderness? Does it feel like there’s less swelling around the area or is it more elastic?

You can assess for any change in the tissue or does it feel like a sense of relaxation?  That could feel like a sigh, swallow, yawn, or just a sense of calmness in your body. 

After you perform the technique, reassess to see how that tissue feels. You can reinforce that with diaphragmatic breathing to up-regulate your parasympathetic nervous system even more. This can be a great technique to do before you go to bed or before you eat, especially if you have gut issues. 

If this was helpful, make sure you give it a share. Also, 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.

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Optimize your testosterone

Did you know that testosterone in men can decrease at the age of 30? However, that does not necessarily mean that you need hormone replacement. Today we are going to talk about the science of low T, the causes, and what you can do about it.

Rather watch or listen? 

Let’s first start with this — testosterone can affect men and women. However, we will focus mostly on men. The signs of low T in a man can be anything from low mood, low energy, erectile dysfunction, low libido, fatigue, poor sleep, decreased strength, and muscle mass among other things. This is something that most people associate testosterone with, but it’s important to recognize all of the other symptoms that correlate with low T. It can also lead to things like brain fog and irritability.

Many things can affect low T and it is important to dig deep to see if this is a possibility for you and how you can improve it. 

Causes of Decreased Testosterone

Now we are going to get into things that decrease testosterone. 

1. Chronic Opioid Use

One of the biggest drivers is chronic opioid use. This happens in up to 74% of chronic opioid users. That means if you are going to go play golf or work out and you pop a couple of Advil’s, remember that could be associated with your low T.  

2. Insulin Resistance

Increased visceral body fat (belly fat) is inflammatory in nature and drives insulin resistance. This can cause elevated blood sugars and lipid issues. Also, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension can all be associated with low T. 

3. Poor Sleep

This is what I see the most in my men with low T; they are experiencing poor quality sleep. That might mean not getting enough sleep, watching TV before bed, sleeping with the TV on, using their phone right before bed, or drinking alcohol right before bed. All of these things are going to tank your testosterone. 

4. Inflammatory Diets

The Standard American Diet is what many men consume. High-fat, high-sugar, and processed foods. All of these things often drive food sensitivities, inflammation, and then begin to spiral into affecting our sex hormones. In this particular case, your testosterone. 

5. Stress

Stress is what drives high cortisol. Whenever we’re thinking about how our sex hormones are affected, we want to think about adrenals first. This produces our stress hormones and an imbalance can affect the thyroid and then sex hormones. If you have high levels of stress, this may be an area to focus on. A lot of times I’ll see men that are in their 30s to 40s that are experiencing high-stress lives that have low T simply because of their lifestyle. 

6. Low Protein Diets

Men need to have at least 30 to 40 grams of high-quality, essential amino acids in every meal. This is key for optimal hormone health. We also need healthy fats!

What You Can Do About It

So, what do you do about it? First, you should get properly evaluated by a functional medicine practitioner, a hormone specialist, or a professional that can guide you and coach you through this journey. With that said, if you decide to pursue hormone replacement, you want to make sure that your lifestyle factors are dialed in.

If you are experiencing high stress, poor sleep, inflammatory diet and you decide to start hormone replacement for low T, I can assure you it will not be as effective. It is so important to address the basics first so that you can optimize your natural T before approaching your potential hormone replacement. So what other things can you do?

1. Moderate Intensity Strength Training

You want to be performing over 200 minutes a week of exercise, most importantly coming from your strength work. Strength training will naturally boost your T. It’s such an easy way to do it, but it has to be consistent just like anything else. 

2. Proper Sleep

Addressing sleep is so imperative. This requires a journey. It can be starting by just looking at your sleep hygiene and picking one thing that you could change such as blue light blockers after seven o’clock, having a set time that you go to bed and wake up, and turning the TV off 30 minutes before bed. There are lots of things that you can do to begin to shift your natural circadian rhythm so that you are optimizing your repair and restoration.

Ultimately, we want to think of testosterone as a growth and repair mechanism. When you have rotator cuff injuries, stenosis in your spine, or degenerating discs, you want to be thinking about testosterone, especially when that’s happening in your 30s, 40’s, and 50’s. Sleep can optimize your natural repair process. 

3. Intermittent Fasting 

This has been shown to be very helpful for optimizing testosterone in men. This can be done in a 16-8 window; fasting for 16 hours and feeding for eight. This has to be highly individualized to the person and their activity level. This is not for everyone. However, just know that it is something that could be explored to see how that works for you and be objective when you’re able to; look at blood work or saliva when you are testing your hormones.

4. Essential Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are key to helping you optimize inflammation and supporting other functions in the body. One thing you could do is eat fatty fish at least two times a week if not more. Also, things like walnuts and flax seeds are great sources of omega 3’s. For a therapeutic dose of EFA, you want 3-6 g of EPA/DHA in a supplement. 

5. Zinc and Vitamin D 

These are key for low T. So please make sure that if you’re not getting enough in your diet that you are supplementing as well.

6. Botanicals

Botanicals can be very valuable in supporting natural testosterone. 

There are a lot of things that you can do to address the basics in terms of lifestyle to naturally support testosterone before you explore testosterone replacement. I think there’s a continuum and you want to make sure that you’re doing things at the right time for the right reasons and with the right guidance. I cannot stress that enough.

If you need help, please make sure to reach out. I will make sure that we take great care of you, educate you, and make sure to get you in the right direction. We also have a great support team that can also help you depending on what you need.

Give this a shot. Let me know how it goes. If this was helpful, make sure you give it a share. Also, 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.

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