Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Healthy Holiday's Guidelines


  1. Healthy Swaps for classic meals:

    • Greek yogurt or avocadoes instead of sour cream

    • Cauliflower mash added to potato or sweet potato

    • Grilled or baked fruit instead of pies

    • Instead of a casserole, just sauté the veggie (green bean casserole vs sautéed green bean)

    • Healthier dips such as hummus and tzatziki instead of cheese balls and French onion dip

    • More Crudité, than charcuterie 

    • Bake not fry

    • Use olive oil, avocado oil instead of vegetable oil

    • Always fresh or frozen never canned or boxed

    • Swap out bread rolls for homemade whole grain bread rolls

    • Cider instead of eggnog

    • Don’t add salt, use other spices/herbs

    • Chocolate covered, dusted, etc. nuts instead of candy or cookies

    • Shrimp cocktail instead of fried apps

  2. Portion Control: hand gestures

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  1. Tips and tricks

    • Make your plate colorful

    • Choose clear liquids (Think water, vodka, gin, rum, club soda, seltzer water, tonic water)

    • Don’t skip meals; don’t go to a party with an empty stomach

    • Eat until you are satisfied, not stuffed

    • Eat slowly

    • No feeling of guilt allowed!

    • Wait 10 minutes before going up for seconds this gives your GI tract time to alert your brain of hunger/satiety cues

    • Avoid anything that says diet/low fat/etc. because something else was put in their to make it that way (normally not good things)

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

How to Survive the Holiday Season

We are well into the holiday season, but you may be finding the closer we get to another big holiday the more concerns you have about your health and wellness. How do I stay on top of my fitness? How do I eat without feeling guilt? How do I keep myself emotionally sane? All of these and more are valid questions running through your head. One of the best things you can do is to plan for both the expected and the unexpected. Let’s look at the first question involving fitness. This is something you have control over and you can plan in advance. Make sure you are signed up for classes (and don’t cancel them), fit in an at home workout using our content library, a live class, or pull up one of our short Youtube videos if you only have 10 minutes. Make movement a priority in your schedule. Having movement can also help with your mental health as we all know that exercise is tied positively to better mental health. Instead of releasing your frustrations on your family members, release them on the boxing bag! Eating can be difficult for some depending on your relationship with food and your relationship with yourself. Remember that no food is good or bad, you don’t earn it, and 1 day out of 365 days is not going to ruin anything for you. Make sure you enjoy it! Keep in mind the following basics: make sure you are stopping when you no longer feel a hunger cue (and if you are feel free to grab more!), fill up on protein and fiber first before diving into your carbs (both pasta, bread, and desserts), and make sure your plate is complete having protein, fat, carb, fiber, and fresh! Don’t demonize food. Enjoy what it gives to you and listen to your body!

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

The Vagus Nerve Part 7

 The Vagus Nerve Part 7: by Wendy Hayden

If our bodies aren't getting enough nutrition in our food, we can enter a sympathetic nervous system response. What we eat becomes the building blocks of the cells in our body. We now have cupboards and refrigerators full of food, but the food is often processed and devoid of the nutrition that our body needs to make healthy cells. You can eat calories but still starve your body of the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Some foods to include: wild caught fish, grass fed meat, organ meats, greens, sulfur rich foods such as garlic, onions, cabbage, and mushrooms, foods with bright colors, and seaweed. These foods can supply your body with the micronutrients it needs to heal your myelin sheath and feed your brain. Healthy fats stimulate the vagus nerve and regulate the activation of our innate immune system, and mast cells in our guts. Eating an anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce inflammation in the body, which can help keep the vagus nerve functioning properly. Foods like fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and healthy fats can all help reduce inflammation. Magnesium helps to maintain the proper balance of nerve cells, as well as their ability to communicate with each other. Without enough magnesium the nerve may become overstimulated, leading to fatigue, indigestion, and mood swings. Zinc is also important for healthy vagus nerve functioning. Zinc helps to regulate the neurotransmitters that control the activity of the nerve. Without enough zinc, the nerve may become overstimulated. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for proper vagus nerve functioning. Omega 3s help to reduce inflammation in the body, which can help to reduce the stress on the vagus nerve. In addition, omega 3s help to maintain the health of the nerve cells and their ability to communicate with each other. If you are deficient in potassium, your vagus nerve will not work as it should. Potassium rich foods include sweet potato, avocado, beets, wild salmon, coconut water, beans, dried apricots, pomegranate, cooked tomatoes, watermelon, spinach,and pumpkin. Vitamin B1, or thiamine, is especially important for proper vagus nerve functioning. B1 helps to regulate the neurotransmitters that control the activity of the vagus nerve. Vitamin B6 helps to maintain the health of the nerve cells and their ability to communicate with each other. Without enough B6, the nerve may become overstimulated and cause a variety of symptoms. B12 is very important to the making and maintaining of the myelin sheath on nerves. B12 is critical for the synthesis of neurotransmitters like acetylcholine. B12 deficiency can lead to neurological and psychiatric problems. If you are B12 deficient long term, you can experience neuropathy, cognitive problems, and Alzheimer's later in life. B vitamin-rich food includes grass fed animal products including clams, liver, fish, crab, low fat beef and dairy, fortified cereal and tofu, cheese, nutritional yeast, and eggs. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can promote the health of your digestive system, including the vagus nerve. Examples include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha. Eating these foods can help to increase the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system, which can help keep the vagus nerve healthy. Even the best nutrition or supplements are not strong enough to overcome a brain and nervous system that is stressed, but they can help to support your nervous system as you heal your vagus nerve. The vagus nerve releases cytokines that regulate mast cells and reduce inflammation. Mast cells can be activated by many types of irritants, viruses, and stressors. When our mast cells are activated, we have increased inflammation. When you have a mast cell reaction, you can have itching, flushing of the skin, swelling, difficulty breathing, hives, low blood pressure, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and heart palpitations. When we activate our vagus nerve, we can reduce mast cell activation. Eating can become a source of worry and dread, as we worry about how much we’re eating, what we’re eating, and how it’s affecting our bodies. That's why it is so important to take the time to cultivate calming rituals around eating, you can reduce anxiety while still enjoying your food. Rituals around meals like eating together as a family, or sitting at the table when you eat, signal our digestive system that food is coming. Our digestive system prepares for the meal by releasing digestive enzymes that help us digest our food. Mindful eating and a routine that signals you will eat can help with digestion issues you may be having.

Here are a few calming rituals that you can incorporate into your mealtimes: 

  1. Take a few deep breaths before eating. 

  2. Make sure you are eating in a calm environment where you feel safe

  3. Eat slowly and mindfully

  4. Don't skip meals

  5. Listen to your body and pay attention to your hunger and fullness cues

  6. Avoid negative self talk, don't judge yourself for what you're eating or how much

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

The Vagus Nerve Part 6

 The Vagus Nerve Part 6: by Wendy Hayden

Emotional freedom technique (EFT) is a form of energy psychology that uses a combination of tapping on acupressure points, affirmations, and visualization to help release trapped emotions and energy, allowing you to heal and find relief from physical and emotional issues. By tapping on specific points on the body, individuals can help to reduce their symptoms and experience improved wellbeing. One way to use EFT or the vagus nerve is to tap on the nerve itself. There are several points on the body that correspond to the vagus nerve. Tapping works similarly to acupuncture, but without needles. You tap on energy pathways and meridians to get energy moving in the body. Stuck pain and emotions move, sending a message to the amygdala that everything is ok and calm. The signals tell your body that you are safe. Along with the physical act of tapping, you follow a verbal script to work on a specific emotion that you want to release. EFT is a combination of ancient Chinese medicine, tapping on the meridians of the body, along with modern psychology, the statements while tapping. EFT uses a standard sequence of tapping on certain acupressure points near the surface of the skin. Many of these acupressure points coincide with the vagus nerve. The first step is to identify what to work on. Can you think of some stress? Where do you feel it in your body? What is the emotion that you want to release? The more specific you are with identifying the emotion, the more effective the tapping will be. This is an enormous step and can be difficult for some people as we often have a hard time admitting to struggling with pain or emotions. We might believe that it shows weakness to acknowledge something we are struggling with, but this is the first step in healing and releasing that issue. Identify on a scale of 1-10 how strongly you felt that emotion. Don't worry about tapping the perfect spots and EFT is very flexible.Start tapping on the fleshy side of your hand by your pinky, while tapping repeat your setup statement: “even though I have this emotion or pain (state your specific issue), I deeply and completely accept myself”. Repeat this statement three times. Now you go through the acupressure points on your body and tap while repeating the “reminder phrase”. Your reminder phrase is the emotion or pain you want to release. Tap the top of your head, the edges of your eyebrows near your nose, the bones on the outside of your eye, the bone below your eye, the indentation below your nose, the indentation between your mouth and your chin and tap these points while repeating your reminder phrase. Find your collarbone and go down an inch and then out an inch. Tap this spot. Lift your arm and tap on your side about three inches below your armpit (about where your bra band is) and repeat your reminder phrase. Take a deep breath, breathing out longer than you breathe in. You can set up a practice to tap once a day, or multiple times a day. Some find it helpful to tap in the morning to start their day relaxed and calm and some use it at night to wind down from the day's events. If you feel tension in your body, take a few minutes to tap. If the body tension jumps up, then there is more to explore. The increase in tension is a message from your body, telling you that you have more to explore and work on. 

Sunday, November 19, 2023

The Vagus Nerve Part 5

The Vagus Nerve Part 5: by Wendy Hayden

How to sit for a mindfulness meditation: 

  1. Take your place, you want a good stable and solid seat

  2. See what your legs are doing. Make sure they are comfortable in whatever place you sit

  3. Straighten but don't harden your upper body

  4. Settle your upper arms parallel to your upper body. Then let your hands fall onto the tops of your legs.

  5. Lower your chin a little and let your gaze fall gently down, feel free to close your eyes

  6. Don't force anything, be there for a few minutes. Relax. Take your attention to your breath or the feelings in your body

  7. Feel your breath as it goes in and out. Pay attention to what your body is doing with each inhale and exhale

  8. Unavoidably your attention will leave your breath and shift to other places. Don’t worry. There’s no need to block or reject thinking. When you get around to noticing your mind wandering…return your attention back to your breath

  9. Practice pausing before initiating any physical adjustments. With purpose shift at a moment you want allowing space between what you experience and what you choose to do

  10. Practice observing without the need to react if you find your mind wandering. Just sit and pay attention

  11. When you're ready, lightly lift your gaze and open your eyes. Take a while and feel the sound in the environment. Notice how your body feels, see your thoughts and emotions. Decide how you’d like to continue with your day

Here is a guided meditation script for your vagus nerve:

  1. Start by finding a comfortable position

  2. Bring your attention to the area at the base of your neck, right between your collarbones. This is the area where the vagus nerve starts its journey through the body

  3. Take a few moments to imagine the energy of the vagus nerve flowing through this area. As you imagine the energy flowing, take a deep breath and allow your body to relax

  4. Now imagine a soft white lights radiating from the base of your neck and traveling down the length of the vagus nerve

  5. As the light continues to travel, imagine it connecting to each of the organs and systems connected to the vagus nerve, bringing balance and calm to the body. Continue to focus on the soft white light traveling down the length of the vagus nerve and connecting to all the organs and systems. As you do, take a few moments to become aware of any sensations or changes in the body

  6. Inhale deeply through your nose, and exhale slowly through your mouth. Focus your attention on your breath and let go of any thoughts or worries that may be on your mind

  7. Feel your body relax as you exhale and let your shoulders and neck muscles soften 

  8. Now focus your breath

  9. As you inhale concentrate on drawing the breath deep into your body as if you’re filling your chest and belly with air 

  10. As you exhale imagine that your breath is flowing outward and releasing any tension or stress

  11. Now, close your eyes and focus on the space between your eyebrows. Feel the area between your eyebrows relax and soften. Take a few more deep breaths and imagine a soft light radiating from the area between your eyebrows. Allow this light to flow down your face and neck and then relax your chest and abdomen. Continue to breathe deeply and focus on the area between your eyebrows

  12. Bring awareness to your throat as you focus on your breath. As you inhale, imagine the air entering your throat and circulating throughout your neck. As you exhale, feel the air exiting your throat and releasing any tension or tightness

  13. After a few breaths, bring your attention to your body. Notice any sensations in your body and any areas of tension. After a few moments of awareness, relax any areas of tension by consciously encouraging your body to let go

  14. Visualize a wave of relaxation flowing through your body and feel your body progressively relax

  15. Now imagine a string connecting your throat to the base of your spine. Visualize the string emitting a gentle vibration that travels down the string and into your body and mind

  16. Now, with each breath silently recite the following mantra “my vagus nerve is functioning optimally. I am relaxed, peaceful, and content”

  17. Repeat this mantra on each breath and continue to do so for the next few minutes

  18. As you repeat the mantra, focus on your breath and the sensation of your throat and neck muscles releasing tension

  19. Notice how you feel, emotionally and physically

  20. Stay in this state of relaxation for as long as you like, allowing your body and mind to sink deeper into relaxation with each passing moment

  21. When you're ready, slowly open your eyes and take a few more deep breaths.notice how you feel and how your body has responded to the relaxation


Tuesday, November 14, 2023

The Vagus Nerve Part 4

 The Vagus Nerve Part 4: by Wendy Hayden

Music is very stimulating to the vagus nerve and can help switch us into a parasympathetic state. Chanting can help to stimulate the vagus nerve and bring balance to the body. During chanting, the vocal muscles contract and relax in a rhythmic pattern, which helps to promote relaxation and a sense of peace. The practice of chanting is a great way to relax and stimulate the vagus nerve because it is done in a deeply meditative state, with focused attention on the words and sounds being uttered. Chanting can help you reach a state of heightened awareness, allowing you to become more connected to your inner self. To begin your chanting session, take a few moments to settle into a comfortable position and take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath. Take a few moments to allow your body to relax and your mind to clear. As you inhale, feel your lungs expanding, and as you exhale, feel your entire body relaxing. Chant any words, sounds, or phrases that resonate with you. Feel free to make up your own words or use traditional chants. For example, you could chant “Om” or “Ahh” in a low, deep voice. Continue to chant OM, or your preferred sound, for several minutes, allowing the sound to penetrate your entire being. As you chant, feel the sound activating the vagus nerve and allowing it to release any tension. Feel the effects of your chanting as you relax even further. Brain health and gut health impact one another, and the vagus nerve is precisely the connection between the two. The vagal tone index can be considered as the body’s gut feeling that gets conveyed directly to the brain and produces a feedback loop of more positivity or more negativity. Stress levels are at historic highs and that can cause us to get stuck in fight or flight. Our nervous systems are getting stuck in sympathetic mode, indicating that the changes that take place in our body/mind during fight or flight are not being resolved after the event happens. Consequently, those changes, to varying degrees, stay with us for long periods. This results in chronic stress, which leads to a host of physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. When the vagus nerve gets stimulated through meditation, it affects the parasympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system to come out of fight or flight, decreasing stress. Mindfulness is the fundamental human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we're doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. You can follow mindfulness by sitting down for a formal meditation practice, or by being more deliberate and aware of the things you do each day. Nearly every task we do in a day, for example brushing our teeth, eating lunch, talking with friends, or exercising, can be done more mindfully.

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

The Vagus Nerve Part 3

 The Vagus Nerve Part 3: by Wendy Hayden

We can’t control most of our autonomic nervous system. We can’t make our heart beat slower by thinking about it or intentionally releasing a hormone. But we can control one thing that is usually controlled by our autonomic nervous system. We can control our breathing. Deep breathing activates neurons that detect our blood pressure. When we activate these neurons, they signal to the vagus nerve that our blood pressure is becoming too high. The vagus nerve then secretes the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which slows the rhythm of the heart. Deep breathing also stimulates the vagus nerve by stretching it when it passes through our diaphragm. Deep breathing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to transition to a parasympathetic state. There are many ways to practice therapeutic deep breathing and stimulate our vagus nerve. Practicing deep breathing regularly, over time, can increase our vagal tone, helping us to switch our system to a predominantly parasympathetic state, turning off our fight-or-flight response. Breathing through our nose instead of through the mouth signals our brain that we are safe. When we are stressed, we will breathe through our mouths. There are many types of deep breathing that you can practice that will help stimulate and tone your vagus nerve. Breathing in for 4 seconds and out for 6 seconds is a very basic, but effective technique. Breathing out longer than breathing in bears down on the diaphragm, making it more effective. Always exhale longer than you inhale. You want to breathe forcefully enough that your belly goes in as you inhale and out as you exhale. Take a moment and practice deep belly breathing. Put your hand on your belly and feel it expand as you breathe out. You can also place your hands on your ribs with your elbows out to your sides and breathe in, feeling your ribs expanding and filling with air, and then breathe out, feeling your ribs contracting as you release your breath. As a caution, always do any breathing exercises in a safe environment. Do not practice while in the bath, swimming, driving, or in any situation where it might not be safe to practice. I recommend sitting in a chair or couch or laying on the floor or your bed. Listen to your body and stop if you feel uncomfortable or faint. One yogic breathing technique is to breathe very deeply, expanding your belly and your chest as you take in the air. As you exhale, hum while breathing out, expelling air from your belly and chest as you hum. You want to breathe out while humming for as long as you can. Not only does the deep breathing stimulate the vagus nerve, but so does the humming. Alternate nostril breathing (ANB), or Nadi Shodhana, is another yogic breathing technique. To practice Alternate Nostril Breathing, sit quietly and breathe through each nostril separately. Plug one nostril by pressing against the nostril with your finger and breathing in the opposite nostril. Go back and forth between each nostril, slowly and rhythmically. Press your left nostril closed, breathe in through the right, then plug the right nostril, unplug the left nostril and exhale through the left, then plug the left nostril, unplug the right nostril and breathe in through the right. During this practice, have a finger closing at least one nostril at all times. Think of it as breathing air into your head through one nostril and then breathing out that air through the other nostril. Research has shown that Alternate Nostril Breathing can help lower blood pressure and increase feelings of calm. Cold exposure is increasingly being recognized as an effective way of stimulating the vagus nerve. Cold exposure can help to activate the nervous system and create a calming effect on the body. It stimulates the vagus nerve by sending a signal from the skin receptors to the brain. This activates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps to reduce stress, improve digestion, reduce inflammation and improve overall health. Cold exposure can be achieved in a few different ways. The most common way is to take a cold shower or a bath. A cold shower is a simple way to stimulate your vagus nerve daily. Ending your shower with 30 seconds-2 minutes of icy cold water can stimulate your vagus nerve. Cold water therapy, also called intermittent hypothermia or cryotherapy, is becoming more popular as it has been shown to reduce inflammation, improve skin health, and improve cognitive performance. Lowering the temperature of the water (not freezing) for a few minutes will help activate the vagus nerve. Sitting in a cold or icy pool for a few minutes can also help to stimulate the vagus nerve if you have one available. This can help to increase parasympathetic activity and improve digestion. Breathing in cold air helps to stimulate the vagus nerve. This can be done by going outside when it is cold and taking deep breaths. You can breathe in cold air, either through your nose or mouth. Simply take a deep, slow breath and hold the air in for a few seconds before exhaling. Cold can trick your body into survival mode, switching you into a sympathetic state. Studies have shown that as you adjust to cold exposure, your sympathetic response declines, and your parasympathetic response increases. If you find a cold shower too hard, you can start by putting your hands or feet in cold water. Work up to putting them in ice water and increasing the time you leave them in the water. You can also splash your face with cold water. Plunging your face in ice water triggers your dive reflex. This stimulates your vagus nerve both through the cold and from the lack of breathing. You can also use ice packs or ice to stimulate your vagus nerve. Just be careful to protect your skin so you do not get ice burn. Going outside in the cold for a few minutes or longer can also stimulate your vagus nerve. If you live in a climate where you have cold weather, you can take advantage of this simple way to stimulate your vagus nerve.

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

The Vagus Nerve Part 2

The Vagus Nerve Part 2: by Wendy Hayden

The vagus nerve is the highway that travels from the gut to the brain. Messages travel from the gut to the brain and from the brain to the gut along the Vagus nerve. Most of the communication is from the gut telling the brain what it needs to work properly. 80-90% of the communication messages are from the gut traveling up to the brain. Besides digestion, 80% of our immune system is in our gut. Poor gut health, leaky gut, and vagus nerve issues lead to immune problems, Food intolerances and nutrient deficiencies, especially vitamin D and glutathione can cause leaky gut; underlying infections like SIBO, yeast, mold, or detox pathways that aren’t working efficiently make our body toxic. Chronic stress, trauma, insulin resistance, hormone imbalances, estrogen dominance, adrenal fatigue/cortisol imbalance, and vagus nerve dysfunction can also cause leaky gut. When the vagus nerve isn’t working properly, communication between the gut and the brain breaks down and the gut doesn’t get what it needs. Low vagal tone causes constipation, low stomach acid, leaky gut, inflammation in the gut, imbalance in gut bacteria, and a lack of digestive enzymes to break down food. When the vagus nerve isn’t working properly, there is a lack of communication between the microbiome and the brain. Lack of communication between the microbiome to the brain causes problems with bacteria, parasites, and yeast. Low stomach acid can lead to many problems. We need stomach acid to digest our food, fight off parasites, stop reflux and fight bad gut bacteria. Many people struggling with reflux think they have too much stomach acid, so they take acid reducers. But a certain level of stomach acid triggers the sphincter muscle that stops reflux. If you lower your stomach acid, the sphincter muscle isn’t triggered to close. This leads to reflux. When our vagus nerve isn’t working, we don’t produce the proper amount of stomach acid, which can lead to reflux. Stomach acid helps break down our food. If you are struggling with constipation or you see undigested food in your stool, you might not have enough stomach acid. You can eat an organic whole-food diet, fermented foods, probiotics, digestive enzymes, and supplements to heal your gut, but if your vagus nerve isn’t working right, you will fight an uphill battle to improve how your gut works. You will still have gut problems if your vagus nerve has a low tone. Past or current traumas, infections, parasites, chronic stress, chronic illness, toxic relationships, abuse, or neglect can cause problems with our vagus nerve. But anything that makes us feel unsafe can affect the health of our vagus nerve. If students bullied you in school, if you moved frequently and weren’t able to be a part of a community, had mold in your home or work environment, if you work in a stressful job or have a stressful home life, it can affect your vagus nerve. Some signs that your vagus nerve isn’t working as it should: Swallowing or coughing issues, Heart palpitations, High blood pressure, Shallow breathing, using the chest instead of the belly, Slow to digest food/undigested food in stool/constipation, Liver problems, Acid reflux/Low Stomach Acid/Heartburn/GERD, Migraines, Poor circulation, Leaky gut, Kidney problems, Gallbladder problems, Cortisol issues, Hormone problems, including issues with your menstrual cycle, reproductive organs, or menopause, Depression, Anxiety, Inflammation, Sleep issues, Obesity and weight issues, Tinnitus, ADD, ADHD, Gastroparesis, IBS, Fibromyalgia, Diabetes, Sexual dysfunction, and Sleep apnea. Another test is to test your breathing. You can put one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Take three deep breaths. 1…………2…………..3…………. Do you feel the breaths in your chest or in your belly? If your hand on your chest is lifting and lowering, it is a sign that you are in a stressed state and can be a sign of vagus nerve dysfunction. If your belly is where you feel your breaths, then that is an excellent sign that you are in a relaxed state. Community is very important to our emotional health. Being with people that support us and that we feel a connection stimulates our vagus nerve. The vagus nerve signals the release of oxytocin, the bonding, or the love hormone. We think of oxytocin as just a hormone that is part of the birthing or breastfeeding process or the hormone that bonds us to our baby, but it involves much more than that. Oxytocin increases feelings of love, empathy, and connection to others and facilitates feelings of trust. Increasing our oxytocin lowers our feelings of fear and has an antidepressant effect. Scientists believe that oxytocin reduces inflammation by decreasing cytokines. Having love, compassion, and forgiveness for yourself will help you heal and help your vagus nerve. If you feel stressed or panicked, you might feel your shoulders raise, your tone of voice becomes strained and your brow furrow, this sends a signal through your vagus nerve that you are not safe. Consciously relaxing your shoulders, softening your tone, and putting a smile on your face can convince your vagus nerve and your brain that you are safe and not in danger. Take a minute right now to lower your shoulders, take a deep relaxing breath and gently smile. Did you feel any different when you did this? Note your thoughts on how you felt before, and after.

Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The Vagus Nerve Part 1

The Vagus Nerve Part 1: By Wendy Hayden

We have talked about the vagus nerve and the gut brain connection in multiple blogs and books throughout the past year. This book will explain that connection a bit more as it relates to symptoms in your body and how to help strengthen the vagus nerve. Feeling safe is the most important part of this healing journey. There is no right or wrong way to go through your healing process. One wonderful thing about the vagus nerve is that there are a lot of ways to stimulate it. If you notice an increase in gut symptoms while doing any of the techniques outlined in this blog, stop and try to figure out what is causing the symptoms. Are you feeling an increase in anxiety? Have you had stressful memories pop up? Are you feeling stressed out from trying to implement too many techniques at once? Once you figure out what is going on, you can develop a program that works for you and helps you to improve your gut and your mental health. The vagus nerve is the longest cranial nerve in our body and connects our brain to all of our major organs. It is the gut-brain connection. The vagus nerve allows the brain to send and receive messages from our facial muscles, throat, heart, lungs, and digestive tract. Signals travel in both directions along the vagus nerve. 80% of the signals travel to the brain from the organs in the body. Sensory functions of the vagus nerve are as follows: Producing somatic sensation information for the skin behind the ear, the external part of the ear canal, and specific parts of the throat, Providing visceral sensation information for the larynx, esophagus, lungs, trachea, heart, and most of the digestive tract, Performing a minor role in the sensation of taste near the root of the tongue. Motor functions of the vagus nerve involve: Stimulating the muscles present in the pharynx, larynx, and the soft palate, which is the fleshy area near the back of the roof of the mouth. Stimulating muscles in the heart, where it assists to lower resting heart rate. Stimulating involuntary contractions in the digestive tract, including the esophagus, stomach, and most of the intestines, which enable food to move through the tract. The vagus nerve controls the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is part of the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system regulates our automatic or unconscious actions such as our heart beating, the digestion of our food, blood pressure, body temperature, our metabolism, sexual response, or breathing. The parasympathetic nervous system handles the “rest and digest” or “feed and breed” activities. The parasympathetic nervous system works with the sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system handles our fight, flight, freeze reactions. These two nervous systems work in opposition to each other. When one is turned on, it turns the other off. Your body can’t be in a parasympathetic state while it is a sympathetic state. If you are in a stressed state, your body cannot heal, rest, or digest your food properly. When we are in a sympathetic state for a lengthy period, our vagus nerve weakens or loses tone. Vagal tone is basically how healthy our vagus nerve is. The higher our vagal tone, the easier it is for us to switch into a relaxed, rest and digest state. The autonomic nervous system's job is to keep us alive. It prioritizes stress over all other systems, including the digestive and immune system. It decides where to put our energy and resources. If we are in a life-threatening situation, our autonomic nervous system shuts down our parasympathetic nervous system and puts all of our energy into saving our life with our sympathetic nervous system taking the lead. If we were being chased by a wild animal, our sympathetic nervous system would give our body the signal to fight, run or freeze, depending on what would be the most beneficial to us in that situation. A body stuck in the sympathetic fight-or-flight response cannot heal. The problem with modern living is that our autonomic nervous system has a tough time telling the difference between a physical threat and an emotional threat. When we are stressed because of work, school, family relationships, or trauma, our autonomic nervous system can put us in a fight, flight, or freeze mode for an extended period. While a stressful job or a toxic relationship will not kill us immediately, our autonomic nervous system can’t tell the difference between an actual physical threat to our lives and an emotional threat. Besides stress, pathogens, bacteria, parasites or diseases can also attack our vagus nerve. Because our vagus nerve protects us, invaders can target it. When our vagus nerve loses tone, we can develop issues such as autoimmune diseases, inflammation, depression, anxiety, heart palpitations, headaches, tinnitus, problems swallowing, fatigue, seizures, blood pressure issues, constipation, weight issues, leaky gut, and IBS symptoms, parasites, pathogens, mold, spores, chemical toxins, parasites, bacteria, infections, and blood-borne illnesses. The vagus nerve detects something bad and signals the body to send in inflammatory cytokines to destroy the foreign intruder. If the vagus nerve is damaged or has “low tone”, then it can’t turn off the cytokines when the threat is no longer indicated.

Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Low Fermentation Eating Guide

The Microbiome Connection Part 6: by Mark A. Pimentel

Low Fermentation Eating Guide:

We are not going to go over foods to avoid and keep in mind this is only for if you have SIBO or IBS. Choose simple, easy to digest foods and avoid high fiber foods.

Foods to choose:

Baking powder

Cream of tartar


Almond flour

All-purpose flour

Dark chocolate

Avocado, coconut, olive, sesame oils

Nuts and seeds

Baking soda

Cane, caster, turbinado sugars



Agar flakes

Active dry yeast

Nut butters (all natural, no additives)


Bittersweet/semisweet chocolate

Vanilla extract/powder

Condiments that are minimally processed without high fructose corn syrup and additives)





Lactose free cottage cheese

Cocoa powder


Milk alternatives and lactose free milk (not soy)

Small amount of butter

Organ Meats




Corn flour






Bacon (nitrate and sugar free)






Passion Fruit







Dragon Fruit









Water chestnut







Sweet potato






Green beans


Green part of scallions










Bell peppers


Small amount of onion, garlic, and shallot (all cooked)








Hemp seeds

White or wheat bread/Bagels

Italian/French/Potato bread





GF pasta made from white rice, corn, or almond flour

Rice cakes made from white rice

Rice (white, sushi, paella, jasmine)

Dumpling wrappers

Cream of wheat


Maple Syrup/Glucose/Sucrose/Honey

Refined Cereal such as rice krispies

Phyllo dough