Many functional medical practitioners make the statement that “ All Health begins in the Gut”. You will see this statement littered all over the internet in a multitude of health and wellness blogs. While I am in no way refuting the importance of gut health I would like to argue that it is not the absolute foundation of health that it has been made out to be. In my health coaching practice I have found that digestive wellness is actually a secondary issue to the most primal of all needs.
If you were running through the forest being chased by a wild bear would you stop to eat a sandwich?
As human beings our most primal needs must be satisfied 1st before any secondary needs can be addressed. What could be more important than eating to survive? Well it turns out that the ability to find food (and digest it properly) is secondary to our most primary need. Our primary need is to feel safe. This need is so important it is totally automated and controlled by the most ancient part of our brains. This part of our brain is known as the reptilian brain. The reptilian brain has 3 main objectives:
In that order.
So if you are running through the forest trying to escape that bear its very unlikely you will even be aware of any hunger pangs. Your brain will flip an internal switch from “Rest and Digest “mode into “Fight, Flight or Freeze” mode. All of your resources, energy and blood supply will be directed to saving your ass.
In the modern world it’s quite unlikely that you will encounter wild bears or sabre toothed tigers chasing you. However a multitude of stimuli bombard us daily to propel our reptilian brains into a search for safety. Work place deadlines, traffic jams, bills and arguments with your spouse to mention just a few……….
So if you want to really help your gut you need to look at ways of reducing the stress response in your life. Not only do you need to look at these techniques, you need to actually IMPLEMENT them! Not just occasionally but daily. I call it “Taking out the garbage”! What would your home look like, how would it smell if you took the garbage out once a year before you left for vacation? Not a pretty site! It would be a toxic breeding ground for infection and disease.
Stress is cumulative. The more stressed you are the more you resonate with the vibration of stress. Ever notice that if you are in a bad and irritable mood you run into a lot of other irritable angry people too? It’s not a random coincidence; it’s the law of resonance.
So break free from the self-destructive, self-perpetuating cycle of stress by trying some of the following techniques:
This could be a seated or moving meditation. There are many ways to meditate. Find which works for you and do it daily.
2: Contemplative or mindful Nature walks.
This offers the added benefit of fresh air and sunshine to bolster your immune system which is one of the first systems to be ravaged by chronic stress.
3: Belly Breathing.
Just practice taking slow deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. In for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds. Many of my clients initially struggle with this as 5 seconds seems like a loooooong time for people who are stressed shallow breathers. It can be done lying on a foam roller to simultaneously decompress the spine.
4: The Grateful Log.
I learned this one from my mentor Charles Poliquin. Just write down 5 things every day that you are grateful for. The trick is it must be a heartfelt gratitude and not a head based one otherwise it’s like spraying air freshener in a room full of rotting fish. The problem is only temporarily masked. When you develop an attitude of gratitude you flip a switch in your brain to focus on the lighter more positive side of life and that law of resonance kicks in. You now reframe your life to see the good things.
If you are trying to control everything in your life and micro manage every detail you have no freedom or space to just be. In a world where goal setting and achieving targets seems to have become the be all and end all there is no ease, no room for joy or spontaneity. One of my clients came in to me last week very wound up about something and a phrase popped into my head:
“ Relax….God is taking care of all of the details”
If you don’t like the word God, just substitute “The Universe”.
Life is here to support us if we just let go and allow it to unfold. So by all means dream and connect to your hearts desires. Just don’t try to man handle them into existence.
So before you try to heal your gut find safety first and you may find your digestive issues resolve all on their own or at the very least way faster.
For more tools to reduce stress in your life check out my book Cracking the Mind/Body code or try one of my Nutrition and lifestyle coaching programs on the right hand side of this page.