Looking beneath the surface is something I’m known for. I enjoy getting to the bottom of things, so I can clear out the garbage that has built the foundation for many’s issues. Once the root is cleared away, the rest dissolves and what’s left is our natural state of wellness.
If we look beneath the surface — even beyond what we see in the mirror — there’s a lot going on. Digestion for example, is a phenomenon that takes place beyond what the eyes can see.
Have you ever pondered on how our bodies are capable of eating food and turning it into eye balls? Or how we drink water and it makes blood and urine? It’s rather fascinating and is all done behind closed doors.
THE BRAIN-GUT AXIS
It may seem the digestive process is happening magically all on it’s own, it’s not. At a primordial level, we are doing it. We are digesting food (or not digesting it) based on the silent signals we send to our second brain (the gut) on a momentary basis.
It is through the vagus nerve — a little nerve that connects the tongue to the gut — that the gut is connected to the brain. The vagus nerve is stimulated by the receptors on the back of our tongues. When we eat something, it sends signals to the gut to start the digestive process. This is known as the gut-brain axis — the two are intrinsically connected.
When we are in states of stress; however, we tend to chew poorly, breathe rapidly and send a surge or stress hormones that interfere with the digestive process. Though food may be stimulating the vagus nerve slightly, the process is disrupted. One way it shows up physically is inn the way we chew.
Though simple, you’ll notice you cannot chew thoroughly and properly and be stressed at the same time. As you become more aware of your chewing, your heart rate slows and you become more relaxed. You cannot be relaxed and chew stressfully at the same time.
Therefore, in order to fully heal the gut, you have to; to some degree, heal the brain. Surely, there are supplements you can take that help heal the digestive system; however, they are just supplements — usually making up for what is lost when the brain is broken and digestive system goes hay-wire. When the mind is calm, the body is and all processes are functioning correctly.
IS YOUR BRAIN INFLAMED?
If the digestive system misses one too many beats we start to accumulate inflammation in the body. In short, undigested food leads to bacterial overgrowth, toxicity and inflammatory responses. When there is any sort of inflammation in the body for long periods, eventually other barrier systems will break down such as the blood-brain barrier.
This causes brain inflammation. I know pretty nuts to think about. Who would have thought all that fast-food actually makes people stupid too!
By taking measures to heal the gut though, one can do numbers for healing the brain — as they are connected. It’s not easy to think your way to healing when your brain is broken and inflamed. This is where working at a physical level becomes very useful.
Here are great tools that will help heal from the body, inward, as you slowly work on the inner-work:
- Broth– Made from the bones of wild or pastured animals, bone broth is one of the most healing foods for the gut next to probiotics. To spare you a novel, bone broth contains every essential nutrient to build a strong and healthy intestinal tract. It also soothes inflammation and has a direct impact on the nervous system. The gut is known as the enteric nervous system or second brain. When sipping broth, it soothes the intestinal tract, which sends the same calming signals to the brain. It’s a wonderful sleep tonic and overall stress-balancing food. Someone with a broken brain-barrier and gut tends to have an overactive sympathetic nervous system, foods like bone broth will stimulate the parasympathetic system, which helps the body relax and chill out. Which is totally essential to good digestion. The parasympathetic nervous system is the “rest and digest” mechanism. Check out my earlier post here to learn how to make your own broth and start sipping on it daily. If this grosses you out too much, or takes too much time, then get your hands on some grass-fed gelatin or collagen. It’s a modern day miracle.
- Glutamine– When we put our bodies through high amounts of stress of any type — physical, mental, emotional — our need for glutamine is increased. When overly stressed, glutamine is one of the first nutrients our bodies use up. Our natural production becomes depleted and our body falls apart in many ways. At this point, which is the point many people are at, glutamine becomes an essential amino acid that we need to get through diet or supplementation. Otherwise, our guts become vulnerable to permeability — aka Leaky Gut. Which again, is caused by stress and poor digestion. By consuming glutamine rich foods (like bone broth or my favorite Vitality SuperGreens) we provide the gut with the exact nutrition it needs to build intestinal lining. It also:
- Removes metabolic residues from digestion such as ammonia, which can cause leaky gut.
- Synthesizes proteins
- Contains gluconeogenesis, which keeps blood sugar stable. Which when out of balance throws hunger hormones out of whack.
- Processes nucleic acids, which makes up our DNA.
- Probiotic Foods– Without probiotics (healthy gut bacteria) we die. It’s that simple my friends. We are more bacteria than we are human. The good bacteria are our protectors from harmful bacteria, yeast, fungi and parasites. When we kill off these wonderful little micro-organisms our immune system becomes vulnerable and we get sick. People have written entire books on probiotics because of their value and importance. If you’re not in the know on probiotics, please educate yourself. I’d start with the Body Ecology Diet book for an easy read on what is a vast topic. In short, probiotics are what digest our food on a essential level. They are responsible for extracting nutrients and turning them into our hair, skin, nails, tissues, organs and so on. They are the miracle workers! Without them, again, we die. It’s not even a matter of healthy skin and hair or a bloated stomach, it’s a matter of diminishing biological energy to the point of cellular death and disease. So avoid this, and drink kefir regularly.
How quiet time heals the gut
When you meditate, do tai chi, breathe slowly, certain yoga or best of all do these things in nature — you flood your brain with oxygen. In states of chronic stress people don’t breathe well. Their hearts beat rapidly all the time and their breathes are short and shallow.
When the brain is flooded with oxygen and we are breathing deeply, we active the parasympathetic nervous systems. Which tells the body it is okay to relax because we are not in threat. We can get back to building resilient, healthy and beautiful bodies to live our lives fully!
Surely, there are supplements that can help oxygenate your body but nothing like oxygen itself. Also, the supplements only help treat the symptom. Which can be helpful if you are working on healing things at the root; such as learning to relax, enjoy life and be happy again.
To get to the root, we have to learn how to breathe again. In order to accomplish this feat, we’re going to have to teach our bodies that it is OKAY to relax. That means a bigger task than most want to sign up for. Because it means using your own inner-power to create a sense of well-being each moment. Can you handle the responsibility of creating happiness and serenity each day?
And I will say this, the more you’ve hardwired your brain to fear relaxation, the more you need it. Or die early and diseased, you’re choice…
ARE YOU ADDICTED TO BUSY-NESS?
In physics there are some basic types of energy; potential energy, genetic energy, thermal (heat) energy, work energy and free energy. Looking just at heat and work energy, we find a fundamental difference. Work energy is found by calculating force x distance. Heat energy, there is only force or effort, but not much distance. So, in work, we actually get some where, from point A to point B, but in heat energy, there is a lot going on without any distance being produced (you’re not getting anywhere).
This is the difference between getting something done (productivity) and being busy. Many of us are busy getting nothing doing and it is a waste of energy. So, this is a major obstacle for many of us; were addicted to busyness. And due to the lack of actual productivity, we have difficulty actually resting. If you’ve ever done a hard days work, some manual labor or some sort, where you are actually productive, it is easy to rest.
So, let me just ask you an honest question, what are you being productive in life, or just busy?
Here are some things that can help:
- Set an achievable goal and get it done: Most of us fail to produce something because we set too high of a goal. This is ambition; where our desires exceed our competence and ability. Set easy to achieve goals and finish them each day to get them done. Do things to get them done, not to just look busy.
- Take 10: Just for 10 minutes each night set aside total quiet time before you frantically jump into bed. If you’re an achiever, then use your Type-A traits to your advantage. Make quiet time as important as stressing out over everything else 😉 But then when your actually in quiet time, shush our mouth and mind and just be.
- Accept your insanity: Nothing changes until we first accept it. Admit you’re addicted to stimulation and can’t relax. Then accept it. Then laugh about it. Then go for a walk in nature and smell a flower, become fascinated by something beautiful and realize that your problems aren’t “out-there” they are in your mind. And you can leave that thing any time you wish to be happy.
- Breathe: This one is simple and sweet. Just as often as you can, use your mind to your advantage and check in with your breathe. Are you breathing short and shallow from your chest? If so, take a few deep breathes form your belly; feel it relax as we tend to hold a lot of tension there. You don’t need Qigong or Tai Chi to relearn how to breathe, you can do it anywhere and it’s totally free. This is a simple and wonderful place to start becoming self-aware.
Making appointments with yourself to just be is not for everyone. Some people simply lover suffering and stress too much. I know it because I was one of them. I learned to survive by being stressed as if it was actually helpful.
Despite how we’ve been programed to remain busy and stressed at all times in today’s world, I will give you a secret…STOP THINKING AND LOOK. Thinking is condensed energy, its harder to think about something than it is to do it, to feel and to look. Looking, observation, awareness require much less energy and are more effective than thinking.
In regards to relaxing, stop thinking, look around, there’s stillness here, all the data and information in the world is there. So, if you want to know something, just look. You don’t need to give yourself a headache about it. By becoming more observant and aware, you might also find that things are never as bad as we imagine them. So, in order to be free from the trap that is the mind; don’t think, look. After all, it is difficult to truly rest and relax if your mind is still turning when you go to lay down.