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Home > Health & Wellness > The gut is your second brain

The gut is your second brain

My name is Debbie Lash, I am a LA trained yoga teacher and health coach. I’m passionate about helping people take control of their health in order to live their best life.

If you are suffering with gut health issues, don’t think for a moment that you have to live like this.  Or maybe at this point you’re not entirely sure of the state of your gut microbiome or even what that is?

Your gut microbiome is an extensive ecosystem of bacteria and fungi housed in your digestive tract. It’s key functions are related to metabolism, digestion and your immune system.  Many refer to it as the ‘second brain’. We often talk about a gut feeling when we meet someone for the first time or we’re told to ‘trust our gut’ when making a difficult decision. The mind/gut connection is not just a metaphor, they are connected by an extensive network of neurons and a highway of chemicals and hormones that constantly provide feedback about our hunger, levels of stress, or if we have ingested a disease-causing microbe.

If your gut isn’t at its healthiest, it will give signals to inform you that it’s not happy. Here are a few of the symptoms:

Stomach disturbances like gas, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea

Sugar cravings

Sleep disturbances or constant fatigue

Skin irritation like Eczema

Food Intolerance’s like lactose, casein and gluten

Food is the biggest player here and you can take back control of your health by simply eating more vegetables, legumes, beans and fruit, as well as fermented foods and probiotics/prebiotics.  Please try to avoid highly processed and fried foods and anything with artificial sweeteners.  Last, but certainly not least, increasing your water intake has beneficial effects on the muscosal lining of the intestines as well as helping the good bacteria in the gut.

When I had Candida 20 years ago, otherwise known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, caused by the stress of an exit from a very traumatic relationship, I had to completely change my diet for 3 months, eliminating gluten, wheat, yeast and sugar. Yes it was extremely challenging but I refused to go on living that way. No probiotic pill or medicine was going to address the root cause so I had to change my lifestyle in order to heal. It was a short-term diet to cleanse my system but it’s a long-term lifestyle change to prevent it coming back, and this is where my yoga journey began.  But what I learnt on the way up was incredibly valuable and nurtured my desired to help others who are struggling with similar issues.

I truly believe that your body holds all the answers and it’s just a matter of tuning in and listening.

Yoga can be a key factor in improving your gut health, for example,  twisting postures have many benefits such as enhancing your digestion system and encouraging your liver and kidneys’ detoxification processes. They provide a “squeeze & soak” action to the abdominals organs; when the twist is released, fresh blood rushes in and soaks the area, rejuvenating and oxygenating.

SAGE MARICHI POSE / SEATED TWIST – Cover photo

PARIVRTTA ANJANEYASANA / TWISTING LUNGE

Deep forward bends compress and massage the abdominal organs, which helps dislodge trapped food, bloating and gases.  These physical inward turns also facilitate a sense of quiet, calming the nervous system, helping you to let go of stress and tension.

PASCHIMOTTANASANA / SEATED FORWARD BEND

UTTANASANA / STANDIND FORWARD FOLD

Backbends stimulate the proper functioning of the digestive system, moving and stretching stagnant areas in the gut.  They open the body to deep diaphragmatic breathing that invigorates the nervous system, counteracting fatigue, and has the ability to energize the mind and body.

USTRASANA / CAMEL POSE

URDHVA DHANURASANA / UPWARD BOW POSE

 

Breath work otherwise known as Pranayama stimulates the vagus nerve.  The vagus nerve connects the brain with the torso, the gut-brain connection.

 

My favourite pranayama for gut health is Kapalbhati, known as the breath of fire.  It is a warming and energizing breath that aids in cleansing the body working from deep within the belly.

Never underestimate the power of food, yoga and breath work to balance and reset your gut health.  Your body can either digest or stress, it can’t do both.

When I’m working with clients who want to address gut health issues, these are my top 3 health hacks to alkaline your body, which will fast-track you to a happier and healthier life:

  1. Start each day with hot water and lemon
  2. Add liquid Chlorophyll or Apple Cider Vinegar to water and drink before bed so it works whilst you’re sleeping
  3. Take good quality Probiotics daily (ones that need refrigerating seem to be the best)

I also have a yoga class on my YouTube Channel ‘Debbie Lash Yoga’ specifically designed for gut health and digestion.  If you have any questions and would like to contact me, you can reach the following ways:  www.debbielash.com or Instagram ‘@debbielashyoga’ or join one of my classes at Earth Yoga in Santa Catalina and Portals.

Namaste!

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