Updated: Sep 29
If you haven't read part 1 you can read it HERE
I’d like to share with you a fascinating insight between the connection of the gut and its significant connection to emotions, depression, fear and anxiety. As well as digestive problems, living in a constant state of fear and anxiety can cause, to name a few, depression, cardiovascular conditions, impaired immune system, respiratory conditions, urinary conditions, insomnia and personality disorders and even suicide. Great for the Big Pharma.
We have all experienced butterflies in the stomach when we are nervous, we get gut feelings about things, and go with our gut when making a decision. These messages are sent from a surprising source, your second brain. Your gut is your second brain. Your gut has its own nervous system independent from the rest of the body, the scientific name for it being the Enteric Nervous System and is called the second brain because it can operate independently from the brain and the spinal cord (the Central Nervous System) I will call it the gut brain. The gut brain is in the digestive walls and consists of two thin layers with over 100 million nerve cells which is even more than the Central Nervous System!
We have always known that emotions trigger abdominal and bowel problems. I have treated a number of clients successfully who have had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and it was interesting to note that at the time of the onset of IBS, they had suffered a trauma or were having some sort of emotional chaos. IBS, Crohn’s disease, stomach upsets, constipation and diarrhea are all things that can be sparked off by emotions.
Although the gut works independently from the brain, the brain and the gut are constantly communicating. It is only recently that the medical profession has acknowledged that not only do emotions trigger gut problems but it can also work the other way around, that in fact digestive and bowel problems can trigger depression, anxiety and mood disorders.This is revolutionising medicine’s understanding of the links between digestion, depression, anxiety, mood, health and even the way you think. The guts brain signals to the Central Nervous System which triggers mood changes.This is quite significant as 30 to 40% of the population suffer from bowel and abdominal complaints. Most of us suffer from short-term ones at some time or other. So this could be a vicious circle unless we intervene.
In present day society we are all living in a state of stress, anxiety and fear. Many people have stressful jobs. Home and work life can be stressful. We are anxious of the future, what could or could not happen and what we think might happen. We worry about not having enough money, paying a mortgage or rent. Now we have the added stress and anxiety of the restrictions COVID is having on our daily life especially social distancing as this goes against our needs as humans. The world needs connection.
Your body‘s reaction to any sort of fear is to go into survival mode. Your body wants to preserve energy for the fight or flight reaction that it thinks you should have to survive. All your body systems slow down, including your immune system. I mention this because 80% of our immune system is where? Yes that’s right, it’s in our gut!
Serotonin is the happy chemical our body makes. 90% of it is produced in our gut! We have to keep our gut healthy!!
When we bottle up our emotions and don’t release them, where are they stored? In our gut! Because of our social conditioning we are taught to suppress emotions so there is a constant build up. This stuck energy does not go anywhere. It remains stuck within our bodies where it is said to create disease, tension and all manner of mental and physical illnesses.
Harbouring negative, painful emotions can have a profound effect on your quality of life. Along with causing significant emotional damage, they can also greatly affect your physical tissues, digestion and health. These stored emotions literally fester and prevent you from having meaningful, lasting relationships.
All these things I have mentioned cause inflammation within the gastrointestinal tract. The gut brain sends messages to the central nervous system, which in turn triggers mood changes, ie anxiety, depression and other mood disorders.
Another result is, even if we are eating incredibly healthy food, if our digestive system is not working optimally we will not absorb the nutrients all this wonderful food gives us.
So what can we do? Remember the journey to self love and respecting your body is in fact a journey and takes time. The better you feel the more you will want to do for yourself and your body. The journey to healthy living should be taken in gradual steps. It is not about deprivation or huge lifestyle changes, it is taking it a step at a time in your own pace, being kind and gentle with yourself and just doing the best you can..
First let’s look at fear and anxiety in our every day lives. Our anxiety is related to the future, the unknown. We fear what may happen, become anxious about what could happen, what we think may happen and the fact very that we don’t know what is going to happen, the unknown. We need to give our bodies time out from this our fear, stress and anxiety every day and how do we do that? We need to donate part of every day even if it’s only 30 minutes bringing ourselves back into the moment. Anxiety only exists when we are thinking of the future so this practice is vital. Some examples are
developing a daily meditation practice. There are many on You Tube to get you started. Meditation takes practice so stick at it, it’s essential for the mind! It will also reduce fear and anxiety levels in a more long term way when you get the hang of it.
yoga; I recommend Hatha yoga or similar
massage is a great way for your brain to shut off totally and completely relax
breathing! Pranayamic breathing or belly breathing (you will be taught at yoga) You can do this anywhere, even waiting at a checkout. We all shallow breathe just from the chest which is another indication we are living in stress. Deep belly breathing really helps anxiety, imagine you are breathing out the anxiety and stress on the exhale. Click here for instructions
You can find your own ways to destress such as a country walk, playing some music. You know what helps you personally. Reaching for a glass of wine or beer or lighting a cigarette does NOT help anxiety or stress, you only think it does!
Turn off the TV, especially the news! Media creates stress. When we are bombarded with all the bad news (when is it ever good) and it is a clever way of keeping us living in a a state of fear as we are far easier to control.
Do some positive mindset mentoring! You CAN reprogram your mind to become more positive and rid yourself of fear and anxiety. You deserve to enjoy life so learn the tools in able to do so. Remember things will happen and your worrying will not make any difference in the outcome. We as humans fear change but is it a bad thing? No, it's just a different path and we have to learn to trust in the process and believe the universe is unfolding as it should be. Trust in the process!
Next let’s look at our bottled up emotions. All those emotions festering and embedded in the tissues of your gut need releasing. Arvigo techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy® does just that. Emotional release is a healing mechanism which enables us to become more whole. In other words, it can also be seen as an integration of our true self. Whether you experience a traumatic event or develop negative feelings over a period of time, by releasing these emotions you can achieve greater well-being and live a more positive, productive life. Releasing trapped emotions is necessary to both our mental and physical wellbeing. Without some sort of emotional release therapy, we will be forever stuck and controlled by our emotions. Find a an Arvigo practitioner HERE
There are exercises you can do to help keep the gut healthy. As well as good for the mind yoga literally massages your abdominal organs and your gut. Pilates, hole hooping, belly dancing, anything involving moving your hips and pelvis is good for the gut and stress levels while you are doing it!
Join a club, get interested in something. Focus your mind on something other than the TV, it reduces stress levels.
Now let’s talk about nutrition!! As with everything else changing To a healthy diet involves time and patience, a step at a time. As soon as you feel deprived of some thing you said yourself up for failure. Forget all those fat diets, they don’t work and they are just there to make the weight loss industry a lot of money. As soon as you mention the word diet, it’s conjures up images of deprivation and concentrating on food you can’t eat rather than a process of changing to food you enjoy. Diet’s in themselves cause stress! The more you bring healthy food into your eating pattern, the more you will want to do it, because you will feel better for it.
The first change you could make what do you put into your stomach when you first wake up. The first thing goes into your stomach each day should be some thing the stomach could work with, something healthy. You can have your coffee or tea afterwards, as I said this is not about deprivation, it has to be something you yourselfcan achieve!
So before your coffee or tea here’s some suggestions of things you can drink when you wake up. If you haven’t got much time you could have a herbal tea. They are an acquired taste but you do get used to them and get to like them and there are many different varieties and flavours so you will find something you like. Even hot water with lemon in it will flush your system through. And you can add things like ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, honey or agave.
Try to stop drinking iced drinks. As I said you have over 100 million nerve cells in your gut brain and putting ice into your gut will cost them just to seize up and contract, which is definitely not good for your gut. Drink should be room temperature or warm. I know everyone likes a cold beer but just do the best you can with other things. Try to limit drinks like Coca-Cola and fizzy lemonade as they are full of sugar and really do nothing to help the condition of your gut at all!
The food you eat should be fresh natural whole foods incorporating fruit, vegetable, grains, seeds, nuts and pulses on a daily basis. Processed foods and fast foods are bad for your gut and your health. When you’re in the supermarket look at the labels, if you don’t recognize an ingredient, then you can be sure your body won’t either!
Go organic if you can. Pesticides have been linked to a number of health problems, including neurologic and psychological problems, cancer, and other diseases. If you can’t then buy some bicarbonate of soda and soak and wash your veggies in it beforehand.
I’m not saying you should do this all overnight, but be mindful of your eating, and try to limit the bad stuff in your diet. You will feel better which will make you naturally want to eat healthier. Not only will all these things improve your gut health, but it will also go along way to prevent all the chronic diseases society is suffering from today, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
You can accomplish anything you set out to achieve because you have ultimate control. You can reprogram your brain to want to live a healthy lifestyle.