There’s a lot of chat around stress and gut health at the moment. The good and bad bacteria and how they are not only affecting our gut but also our liver, our kidneys, our heart and our emotional wellbeing. The nerve connecting all these organs and more is the Vagus nerve.
The Vagus nerve runs from our head to our digestive system. Vagus is latin for wandering and this is exactly what the nerve does as it’s the super highway connecting our body to our brain. It transmits information from our brain to our tissues and organs and back. Health and wellness can be affected by the state of this nerve as well as illness and disease.
As the Vagus nerve wanders through our body is has an impact on our hearts, liver and gut. It affects our immune system, our mental wellbeing and blood vessels. If the Vagus nerve is balanced, we are balanced. However, many of us are living in a constant state of stress initiating our parasympathetic response and damaging the Vagus nerve.
Our parasympathetic response is also known as the Fight or Flight response. 1000’s of years ago our bodies cleverly helped us, when we were terrified either mentally or physically, by going into survival mode. Our ancient ancestors either fought or fled when faced with these life-threatening dangers.
In response to a danger our body would be flooded with the rush of hormones. These would cause our digestion to be inhibited (this isn’t the time to sit down to a 3 course meal when a sabre tooth tiger is about to eat you!) Glucose is released to give you energy to escape the threat and your heart rate is increased. Blood flow to the skin surface is reduced as its focused on arms, legs, muscles and brain. Our muscles will also become tense (often trembling) as they prepare for action. In order to prevent blood loss in case of injury our body will also ramp up its blood clotting ability.
This is all really helpful when the threat is “kill or be killed.” Nowadays, the stress of life is very rarely this dangerous yet our body is still responding in the same way. It’s hard for it to distinguish between a real threat and non-threat as it treats all stress in the same way. Spending most of our lives in this stress mode is leaving our system overworked and exhausted. This causes the Vagus nerve to become unbalanced and this level of dysfunction can lead to illness and exhaustion.
Signs of Vagus nerve dysfunction are: digestive issues, depression, anxiety, brain fog, fatigue, tinnitus, insomnia, infertility, migraines & headaches, vitamin deficiency and obesity.
We have to reset ourselves.
Nourishing the Vagus nerve is a good starting point. Healthy fats and potassium are excellent for revitalising the nerve. However we also need to create a balanced life. It’s all very well eating better but if we’re still being exposed to the stress that’s causing our bodies to fly into overdrive, we’re not going to change.
Deep breathing exercises using our diaphragm will help calm the body down. Meditation, yoga, reflexology and even exposure to cold can all help relax us and help increase our healing and health potential. Focus on your shoulders, let them drop to see how tense and high they’ve been. Yawing is a great way to reset the brain and take you into calm. Humming and singing reverberations can all help reset our nervous system. And laughing has a great impact on our overall wellbeing as well as the Vagus nerve.
The most effective way of healing the gut and Vagus nerve is to find the stress and eliminate it. Stress can appear in our body, mind, emotions and behaviour – all driven from the brain. Therefore we must re-programme our brain. Is our current programme hurting or healing us?
Worrying, complaining, irritation, sleeplessness, fatigue, tight muscles, feeling wronged or hurt, depression, feeling isolated, and addictive behaviours can all be signs of stress. To heal our brain we must help it reset. How we react to things must become our choice to enable vibrant health.
Anxiety, depression and mood issues are driven by how we react. We think they’re based on our reality but it’s actually just our perception. We need to get them out of our mind. Write down any conflicts, resistances, anxieties or problem areas onto paper. Get into a deeper level of consciousness and write it all down without any judgement or second-guessing yourself.
Then destroy it. The simple act of getting all this onto paper will help relieve your brain of the stress that’s been created and WILL help support your overall wellbeing.
By nourishing yourself, calming your body and freeing your mind you will live vibrantly. Do it, you deserve to be the best version of you.
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