Vagus Nerve Hack | Gastroesophageal Release

Do you suffer from acid reflux, and you’re trying to figure out how to manage your condition? Many factors go into this, but today’s focus is on a visceral release for your gastroesophageal junction that may, in fact, help relieve your symptoms.

Rather watch or listen? 

It’s important to remember that when we are in a stressed state, we have blood flow that’s moving away from the digestive tract. To be able to digest optimally, we have to be in a parasympathetic state, i.e., rest and digest.

Stimulating the vagus nerve via the digestive tract by performing visceral releases can be a great way to manage and treat your condition. 

The gastroesophageal junction connects the esophagus to the stomach. The esophagus, stomach, and the rest of the digestive tract are innervated by the vagus nerve. This junction itself regulates the food and fluid that is moving from the esophagus to the stomach. This is a very important function because this is one of the things that can contribute to acid reflux. From an anatomical perspective, the esophagus passes right through the diaphragm. As you’re performing the exercise, diaphragmatic breathing is very important before, during, and after to be able to calm the nervous system down and optimize esophageal mobility. If the diaphragm is restricted, then that means it could compress the esophagus as well. 

To perform this technique:

  1. To find the location, move down the sternum and under the xiphoid process. Perform this exercise lying down and while you gently press into the tissue. You might already feel some tenderness, which is quite common and normal. 
  2. Once you’ve assessed the tissue, then traction the tissue down and to your left towards the stomach. Once you’re there, perform your diaphragmatic breathing. As you inhale, you’re creating resistance against the tissue. As you exhale, move down and out while tractioning the tissue more. Perform this until you feel a release or until the tissue begins to feel more relaxed. You might also have another response in your nervous system, such as a sigh, swallow, or yawn. However, you will feel the tissue relax and feel not as tender. Those are all positive signs that you’re performing the technique properly. 
  3. Perform this in-between meals. You don’t want to do it immediately before or after a meal. You can perform this exercise right before bed or in the morning. 

Make sure you speak to a medical provider if you are dealing with a chronic condition to make sure this is an appropriate technique for you. Always be gentle and intentional, and never aggressive. 

Please make sure to check out all of our other vagus nerve hacks that can help you optimize your health and longevity. Make sure to give this a share and subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

Other things that may interest you:

Ancient Navel Massage Practices

Vagus nerve hack | Diaphragmatic and Lymphatic Release

10 ways to measure your health that’s not the scale

Vagus Nerve Hack | Trapezius Twist

Do you have forward head posture or know someone who does? Or maybe you are sitting at your desk all day and you are constantly feeling restricted? Well, if so, this vagus nerve hack is for you. We have Stanley Rosenberg to thank for the ever so simple, trapezius twist.

Rather watch or listen than reading?

Why do you have forward head posture?

Let’s talk about the neurology and physiology of why you might have forward head posture. Here are three key things that can contribute to it.

1. Airway Dysfunction

The decreased tone of the trapezius muscle and increased tone in the SCM muscle is often related to some type of airway dysfunction. This could be just from poor awareness of diaphragmatic breathing throughout the day or it can be related to structural abnormalities. This could be things like a deviated septum, small nasal valves, TMJ or other jaw issues, enlarged tonsils, and more. It can also have inflammation in the airway preventing you to be able to breathe optimally.

2. State of the Nervous System

Posture is your story. It is how you present yourself to the world. It is ultimately a reflection of your past experiences, thoughts, beliefs, emotions, and activities of daily living. There are so many things that affect it. If you are in a constant fight/flight or freeze state, that will be reflected in your posture.

For example, if you are in a fight or flight state, you might feel a constant tension in your neck muscles. This means that you are over-breathing in that state and using a lot of your neck muscles to do so. Conversely, if you think of the frozen state where we are shut down, hopeless, and numb, this might lead to more of a rounded posture.

3. Scars

No matter where your scars are in your body, they can directly impact the function of your cranial nerves, autonomic nervous system, emotions, and stabilizing muscles in your neck. Scars can have profound effects even far from where the actual scar is.

In healthy tissue, collagen fibers are normally parallel, but when scar tissue forms the collagen fibers are now perpendicular. The tissue is stronger, but it is not as elastic so it will impede the surrounding or distant muscles.

When To Do Trapezius Twist

Now for the fun part. The trapezius twist is a fantastic exercise to do right after you are sitting for a period of time. If you feel like your head is just leaning forward or you are having a hard time holding your posture, the trapezius twist will activate the trapezius muscles. It is a neural activation that is waking muscles up. You can check your forward head before and after you perform the exercise to see the difference.

How To Perform The Exercise

To perform the exercise, grasp your elbows and twist side to side at waist level for about five seconds. Then move to the chest line for five seconds. Lastly, move above the shoulders for five seconds. Recheck your forward head posture after you finish.

If you found this vagus nerve hack to be helpful, make sure to give it a share. Also, check out all our other vagus nerve hacks and make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel, The Movement Paradigm for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement. If you are interested in setting up a virtual or in-person consultation, please reach out to themovementparadigm.com. We would love to help.

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.

Other things that may interest you:

Vagus Nerve Hack | Sphinx

Vagus Nerve Hack | Hand Reflexology

Top 5 Vagus Nerve Hacks to Help You Relax and Restore

How Your Vagus Nerve Affects Your Gut Health

Optimal vagus nerve function drives your digestion, assimilation, and elimination. Let’s discuss all the reasons and benefits as to why optimizing your vagus nerve function will help with your gut health.

We first want to remember that the vagus nerve is 80% of our parasympathetic nervous system. Think of this as our ‘rest and digest system.’ For us to have optimal digestion, we have to be in a calm and safe state.

Rather watch or listen than read?

As we remember from the anatomy of the vagus nerve, it exits the brainstem, innervates muscles of the face, throat, and branches into the ear. It innervated the SA node of our heart and most importantly, it innervates our entire digestive tract. That is why it is so imperative that when we see gut motility and health issues, we want to look more closely at the vagus nerve.

For example, if someone is experiencing chronic stress or trauma, this may contribute to poor gastric motility and enzyme activity that ultimately leads to gut health issues.

8 Ways Vagus Nerve Is Involved In Your Digestion

We are going to discuss eight different ways that the vagus nerve is involved in your digestion. 

1) Upregulates Breakdown of Solids

The vagus nerve upregulates your mechanical breakdown of solid food. This is important because most of us are eating solid foods of course unless you have some kind of medical condition that warrants you to eat softer foods.

Being able to break down our food before it enters the entire digestive tract is important. Otherwise, we can have a whole host of symptoms from reflux, to bloating, flatulence, and so on. 

2) Stimulates Secretion of Saliva 

When food enters our mouth, that is our first step in the digestive process. We have our salivary glands that release salivary enzymes. This is helping to break down the food before it enters the esophagus. 

3) Stimulates Release of Digestive Enzymes and Bile

It stimulates your digestive enzymes coming from your pancreas as well as bile from your liver. These are very important in breaking down the food appropriately so it can continue to pass from the esophagus to the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine to be ultimately excreted. 

4) Allows for Accommodation of Food in Stomach

Optimal vagal tone allows for the proper accommodation of the food in the stomach. This is where hydrochloric acid and pepsin help to break down the food even further, especially our protein. 

5) Slows Gastric Emptying

This is important because we do not want the food to pass through the system too fast. Slow emptying will make sure we are getting proper absorption of the nutrients from the food that we are eating. 

6) Coordinates Motility of Intestines

When food comes into the small intestine, that is where we are absorbing our nutrients. Then the food has to pass through to the large intestine and ultimately excreted via the rectum.

Our migrating motor complex is very critical in the small intestine, which creates a wave-like action to help move the food through to the large intestine; this is an essential function that is dependent on the vagus nerve.

7) Decreases Inflammation and Intestinal Permeability  

Intestinal permeability is also referred to as leaky gut. When we do not have proper function of the vagus nerve, proper motility, and proper assimilation of the nutrients, these tight junctions in the epithelial lining of the gut lose their integrity.

This allows pathogens, toxins, undigested food, and bacteria to move through the bloodstream igniting the immune system causing an inflammatory response. This can cause a whole host of chronic health conditions. 

8) Increase Satiety

If you have optimal vagus nerve function and tone, you’ll be able to easily recognize when you are hungry and when you are full. When this is disrupted and you have a low vagal tone, often you will see this is difficult to determine. You may eat too much or you may not eat enough. This is a simple, but important, concept in terms of weight loss and overall health and performance. 

As you can see, the vagus nerve has a tremendous impact on our digestive system. It is innervating the entire digestive tract.

If you are experiencing chronic stress, low vagal tone, frustration, anger, worry, anxiety, or you’re in a freeze state, your gut health can be deeply affected. Many gut issues such as the leaky gut, IBS, and SIBO  are linked to some of the above. It is important to think of this from a global, integrated perspective.

In order to improve our gut health, we also have to improve our vagus nerve function. Please make sure you check out all my videos on vagus nerve hacks, so you can begin to regulate your own nervous system. 

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.

Other things that may interest you:

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

Vagus Nerve Hack | Breathing Before Eating

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

Vagus Nerve Hack | Sphinx

The sphinx, another powerful vagus nerve hack, can improve your cervical range of motion, thereby increasing blood flow to the brainstem and stimulating the vagus nerve. Let’s briefly review the anatomy, how to perform the exercise, and the implications that it will have for you. Please make sure to check out some of our other vagus nerve hack videos on YouTube so you can explore what works best for you.

Rather watch or listen than read?

Anatomy

In the meantime, let’s review the vagus nerve. Remember, it is the 10th cranial nerve and it is a paired nerve. It originates from the brainstem, exits anteriorly, and innervates muscles of the throat, heart, digestive tract, and is involved in all of our autonomic functions.

If we have forward head posture and limited cervical range of motion, our cranial nerves are going to be impacted since they exit from the brainstem. We need optimal cranial nerve function so that we can be in a state of social engagement. This means that we are connected, joyful, mindful, and/or grounded. It involves muscles of the face or facial expressions. Again, if our range of motion is limited, then that can impact the functionality of these nerves and thereby how we interact with the world.

Before you begin the exercise I would recommend checking your range of motion. You can start by keeping your head in a stacked position over your body and look all the way to the right and left. How does it feel? Is there pain and/or restriction?

You should be able to get your nose over towards your shoulder while keeping your eyes level, so make sure not to side bend when you perform this.

How To Perform

To perform this exercise, start by lying on your stomach and then prop yourself up to your elbows. From here starting with your head centered, lift your pubic bone off the ground, lift your head gently, and then slowly rotate to the left, holding that position for 30 seconds. Next, come back to the center, and then move to the right and hold that for 30 seconds.

Now that you’ve performed the exercise, you can reassess your range of motion to see how that feels. If it feels better, then that exercise was meant to relax or stimulate cranial nerve XI, the accessory nerve. This will relax your SCM muscle as well as your trapezius muscles. If it didn’t, then that means that there is another problem in another one of the cranial nerves. Just know that there are other exercises that may be more appropriate for you.

This is a developmental position, something we did as babies. When we prop up onto our forearms, it ignites a postural reflex. It is also optimal for reflexive stability. This is a great position, movement, and posture to work from, and even exercise from. If you have a stiff neck, or you experience migraines on a regular basis, then this is a powerful exercise to perform. Make sure to do it as often as you need to help with your symptoms.

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.

Other things that may interest you:

How To Assess and Treat Your Scars

Vagus Nerve Hack | Breathing Before Eating

Vagus Nerve Hack | Hand Reflexology

Vagus Nerve Hack | Breathing Before Eating

If you are experiencing acid reflux, bloating, constipation, or poor digestion, then this vagus nerve hack is definitely for you.

In order to have optimal digestion, we need a lot of blood flow to our digestive tract. When we are in a fight or flight state, or a stressed state, the blood is moving away from our digestive system which will slow gastric motility.

Rather watch or listen than read?

Why perform diaphragmatic breathing?

Performing diaphragmatic breathing before you eat will stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, thereby improving your digestion.

We breathe 20,000 to 25,000 times a day. So, when we are breathing from our neck and shoulder muscles and not allowing our ribcage to expand with each breath, our diaphragm becomes restricted. Since the esophagus passes through the diaphragm, it will become restricted as well, which can cause symptoms such as acid reflux.

We want to optimize the bi-directional communication between our gut and brain since 80% of that afferent information is coming from the gut up to the brain. We do this by diaphragmatically breathing.

This means when you inhale, you have a full 360 degrees of pressure through the abdomen, and when you exhale your belly button goes toward your spine. This will help to calm the nervous system down prior to eating by stimulating the vagus nerve and releasing acetylcholine to create a sense of calmness.

Simply taking 3-10 diaphragmatic breaths before you eat will help with your digestion tremendously.

It is important to calm the nervous system before eating so that we can truly rest and digest.

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.

Other things that may interest you:

Chew Your Food To Heal Your Gut

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

Vagus Nerve Hack | Hand Reflexology

Vagus Nerve Hack | Valsalva Maneuver

Let’s discuss another vagus nerve hack that you can incorporate into your day to decrease your heart rate and regulate your nervous system. This one is a little unique; it’s different than our standard slow, deep breathing. The Valsalva maneuver is great for anyone that’s experiencing super ventricular tachycardia (SVT), which is an increase in your heart rate. In essence, it will slow the heart rate down and create a relaxation response.

Rather watch or listen than read?

Anatomy

Now let’s talk a little bit about anatomy. The vagus nerve is leaving the brainstem and branches off to innervate muscles of the face, ears, throat, heart, digestive tract, and elimination tract. As it relates to the heart, specifically for this maneuver, the vagus nerve innervates the SA node of the heart. So, by creating pressure in the chest, it signals the SA node to signal the AV node to decrease the heart rate. In essence, the Valsalva will slow the signaling down in the lower chamber of the heart, which decreases the heart rate.

Precautions

Before we get into how you’re going to perform the technique, I do want to remind you who should not perform this technique. Anyone that has a known heart condition, congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, or heart disease, should not perform this, and/or check with your medical doctor. There is a temporary increase in blood pressure so it can place you at higher risk. If you do not fall into one of those categories, please feel free to give this a try.

How to Perform the Technique:

  • Inhale normally, pinch your nostrils, and begin to exhale.
  • Hold it for 10 seconds. You’re exhaling through the nose while you are pinching your nasal valves, thereby creating pressure in your chest.

Initially evaluate how you feel, and then you could repeat this several times. It should have a slowing of the heartbeat and relaxation response. A great thing to do is to take your pulse before and after the maneuver to see if it has lowered your heart rate. You can use your radial or carotid pulse, whatever is easiest for you. Just make sure not to use your thumb when taking your pulse. The Valsalva maneuver can be a great addition to your life and your health.

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.

Other things that may interest you:

Vagus Nerve Hack | Auricular Ear Release

Top 5 Vagus Nerve Hacks to Help You Relax and Restore

Vagus Nerve Hack | Neck Release

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.

Rather watch or listen than read?

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.

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

References:

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.

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.

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 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 gut bacteria. Serotonin 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 is 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 a 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 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, breathwork, 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 achieve what you want in your life and your health.

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.

Other things that may interest you:

5 STEPS TO HEAL YOUR GUT

Vagus Nerve Hack | Breathing Before Eating

How To Do An Elimination Diet

Are you in tune with your body? | INTEROCEPTION

Did you ever wonder why some people are so much more in tune with their emotions and their bodies than others? Did you ever wonder how in-tune you are with yourself?

Interoception, otherwise known as your internal awareness is also referred to as the eighth sense, one that we’re a little less familiar with. It also tells us about our autonomic function, such as respiration, digestion, our heartbeat, and even our emotions. We have visceral receptors that are constantly giving us information about our internal senses, but often times we don’t listen to them.

At the most basic level, interoception allows us to ask the question, how do I feel? Am I hungry? Am I safe? or Am I full? Am I sad? Do I have to go to the bathroom? Being in tune with what is happening inside your body is an amazing skill to have and has been shown to improve emotional regulation.

Interoception helps us to be able to manage our bodies, listen to signals, and take action. Having this greater sense of internal awareness helps us to be able to manage our emotions as well.

We often tend to stuff our emotions and push them away as if they don’t exist. When we can be in touch with our own body, emotions, feelings, and be able to learn how to express them, we can have a better quality of life. This also decreases our risk of chronic disease and illness that is associated with not being in tune with all of those things.

So you may be wondering, how can I test my interception?

A simple heart rate test: You can do this by sitting in a chair with your arms down to your side. 

Close your eyes or keep them open and without actually putting your hands on your body try to take your pulse. You want to attempt to sense your pulse, your heartbeat, for one minute.

After you record your number, then you will actually take your pulse. To do this, you will use your pointer finger and middle finger and put them on your wrist on the thumb side to feel your radial pulse. You can also use those two fingers and put them right behind your jawline to feel your carotid pulse.

You want to use very gentle pressure, and you should not need to dig in. Take your pulse for one minute and record your findings. You’ll wait two minutes, and then you repeat the test. Then, average the results of both the actual pulse and the sensed pulse.

Now to complete the following calculation:

1- ((Average heart rate – estimated heart rate)/ average heart rate) = _______

For your results: a result of .80 or higher indicates that you are very intercepted aware.

A score of .60 to .79 indicates you’re moderately self-aware.

Lastly, a result of less than .59 indicates that you have poor interoception.

Although this is not the only way to measure your self-awareness, it is a good starting point. If you find that you have poor self-awareness, that is okay. There are lots of ways that you can begin to improve your internal awareness.

Mindfulness is one of the best ways to become more in tune and aware of your emotions, thoughts, physical sensations, surroundings, and become present in your own life. Many times, we are anxious about the future or we may be depressed about the past, when in fact being present is actually a really wonderful place to be.

Hopefully, you will appreciate how important it is to develop and integrate these interoceptive skills in your life so that you can be fully present and enjoy everything life has to offer.

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 my YouTube channel here.

Other things that may interest you:

Is your anxiety or depression coming from your gut?

Top 5 Vagus Nerve Hacks to Help You Relax and Restore

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