We've been on a kick exploring the gut-brain connection lately, and it's been illuminating! You know, there is a reason we talk about feeling "butterflies in our stomach" or having a "gut instinct"...Did you know that microbiota in the gut have a complex communication system with our brains? When we get an intuitive feeling in our bellies, science actually backs up that there is a connection between our gut microbes & our brain chemicals. These little bacteria in our intestines influence our mental state, and chemicals in the brain then influence the health of our intestines, which thus contributes to the health of our immune systems. So if you're looking ways to deal with stress & depression (especially during the Holiday season!), consider taking a look at your digestive health.
Traditional medical systems, such as a Ayurveda, have long put focus on healthy digestion as key to our overall health. Talk to any Ayurvedic practitioner, and they will probably ask you if you're regular right off the bat! If you struggle with digestion issues, here are a few tips for getting back into balance:
- Drink more water! Start the day with a room-temperature glass of water, before anything else. This helps jump-start the kidneys and intestines.
- Take a 15-20 minute walk after eating. This light physical activity helps get your digestive system working.
- In the winter months, keeping your body warm is key to keeping all systems running smoothly. Add warming tastes like ginger, cayenne, garlic & cinnamon to your meals. Wrap a warm towel or a heating pad around your lower back & belly to bring heat to your kidneys & intestines.
- Make or buy digestive bitters. These herbal tonics are made from bitter herbs like dandelion, and are often combined with tummy-calming herbs like ginger & fennel. The bitter taste stimulates bile production and supports healthy digestion.
- Yoga poses & intentional breathing can help digestion. Try this "Wind-Relieving" sequence from Do You Yoga
Image & yoga sequence from Chara Caruthers, Do You Yoga
Interested in learning more about the gut-brain axis? Here's a few books we've been perusing:
- The Mind-Gut Connection by Dr. Emeran Mayer
- The Balance Within: The Science Connecting Health & Emotions by Dr. Esther Sternberg
Stay healthy, friends!