Balance October 2017 - 53

H E A LT H Y G U T

When the relaxation response kicks in,
apparently, a lot of fun and funky things
happen. The body stops thinking it's subtly
under threat, the skeletal muscles relax, blood
flow returns to the limbs, we can experience
and maintain sexual arousal and, importantly
for our discussion here, we can break down and
absorb our food. The gut calms. This is the first
ingredient Ted was missing and why his gut
could finally speak its mind when he ampeddown his stress response. And the reason for
my drool. According to Wolff, a dry mouth is a
result of a stressed nervous system. 

MOOD AND FOOD
As we all know, food and mood are rather like
the old chicken-and-egg problem. When we're
in a lousy mood, we crave the very things that
undermine our health but research shows
that when we calm down the nervous system,

READER'S DIGEST

TIPS TO HEAL
YOUR GUTS
FEEL THE LOVE
Build your relaxation response
to soothe a rocky tummy.
Use a targeted programme like
thebellylovemethod.com, do
restorative yoga or yoga nidra.

GET A GOOD SHOT
IN THE GUT

THE FIRST KEY TO
HEALING THE GUT
MAY BE THE BODYMIND CONNECTION,
BUT DON'T FORGET
THE BACTERIA
we eat the right things and the good stuff is
absorbed, digested and made into good brain
chemistry, meaning we can reverse-engineer
the stress response in the longer term.
As it turns out, taking anti-depressants can't
actually make the wellbeing and happiness
neurotransmitter serotonin, it can just keep it
around for longer. But if we eat foods that can
help our bodies to create serotonin for itself
and can digest and absorb their brain-boosting
nutrients, then we are on the way to feeling a
whole lot better, from the gut up.
Joan Mathews Larson's classic 2001 book
Depression Free, Naturally (£12.42, Wellspring/
Ballantine) is a revelation, albeit with something
of a misleading title. It focuses on dietary
supplements such as amino acids, tryptophan
(the parent of serotonin), Vitamin C, B vitamins
and Omega oils and their direct impact on
everything from recovering from addiction to
re-establishing our ever-diminishing attention
span. It's a must-read for anyone wanting to
heal rumbly tummies and grinding guts.

56

Sip waterborne priobiotics
or a milk drink with authentic
live kefir cultures to get
gut-brain resilience right up.

SPILL IT!
Emotions can sock you in
the gut. Training centres
like CCPE (ccpe.org.uk)
or online referrals at
welldoing.org, can find you
a sympathetic therapist.

USE THE FOD MAP
Consult your GP or specialist
about a diet low in FODMAPs
(fermentable sugars) or cut
sugars, caffeine and alcohol
to feel your digestion, energy
and mood improve.

GET COHERENT
Using a coherent breath app
on your phone to remind
you to breath in and out at
a slower rate, which will
help calm both your
nerves and your tummy.

BA LA N CE October 2017

While the first key to healing the gut may
be the body-mind connection, there are other
tiny bodies to consider: bacteria. Without the
right bacterial composition in the gut, we can
easily dispose of our food before extracting its
nutrients, thus nothing good gets through. In
her clever and funny book Gut (£8.99, Scribe
UK), German writer and scientist Giulia Enders
mentions a 2013 study that found four weeks
of taking a certain 'bacteria cocktail' led to real
changes to the areas of the brain involved in
processing emotions and pain. 
Recently, a one-two gut punch of a sudden
bereavement and a break-up, and a whole lot
more, led to my being distinctly off-mojo
with clear evidence (which I won't go into here)
that my gut balance was off kilter.
I got hold of a high-intensity probiotic shot
and took the tasty bacteria cocktail on an
empty stomach as directed.
Apparently the shot-approach bypasses the
stomach acid that is the primary killer of good
bacteria as it passes through digestion. Mostly,
we want this acid to kill bacteria because it
protects us from the bad 'uns. But, much like
the distinctly horrible Montezuma's revenge
I contracted in Mexico at the age of 14, good
bacteria also bypasses our defences in water.
It worked, and I started feeling the effects
on my mood, junk food cravings diminished,
my depressed gut was distinctly quiet and my
energy rose. In addition, I felt more emotionally
resilient again.  The bacteria made it through
my defences and started restoring balance.

BRAIN ACHE
There are other more subtle defences, however,
that may be warping our collective guts. This
brings us back to the yogic idea that 'everything
is food' but we can't always digest it. 
Essentially, our systems for digestion may be
tripped up by being in fight or flight mode, and
our fast paced information-rich environment
leaves behind too much undigested
psychological material.
What Dr Rick Hanson, author of Hardwiring
Happiness (£9.99, Rider) calls the Negativity
Bias, doesn't help. The human brain is trained to
protect us, to perceive threat more prominently
than positive cues. When we feel under threat,
our bodies are programmed to increase stress
hormones and shut down digestion.
So perhaps we need not only look at what we
are eating and how, but ways to slow down our
fast modern breath, find Dr Benson's Relaxation
Response, and start digesting on every level. B


http://www.thebellylovemethod.com http://ccpe.org.uk http://www.welldoing.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Balance October 2017

Balance October 2017 - 1
Balance October 2017 - 2
Balance October 2017 - 3
Balance October 2017 - 4
Balance October 2017 - 5
Balance October 2017 - 6
Balance October 2017 - 7
Balance October 2017 - 8
Balance October 2017 - 9
Balance October 2017 - 10
Balance October 2017 - 11
Balance October 2017 - 12
Balance October 2017 - 13
Balance October 2017 - 14
Balance October 2017 - 15
Balance October 2017 - 16
Balance October 2017 - 17
Balance October 2017 - 18
Balance October 2017 - 19
Balance October 2017 - 20
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Balance October 2017 - 25
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Balance October 2017 - 28
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