Healthy Gut Brain

Did you know that our intestines are linked to our brain? Our guts are formed of the same material as our brains when we are developing as an embryo, hence we experience “gut feeling”. Our guts are also linked to our brains through systems within the body which I will explain. The link between the guts and the mind is strong. Some scientists even think that our guts control our minds! It is also believed that there is a relationship between our mental health and our gut health, that possibly one could be triggering the other e.g. poor gut health is triggering anxiety and vice versa.

Scientists have identified the gut-brain axis, which basically means how the brain and the gut talk to each other. In the realm of science this is all pretty new stuff, but it’s an area that is growing and is super interesting. This relationship which is affecting our brain and emotional system is occurring through hormones, our immune system and autonomic nervous system. I could go off on a tangent about the microbome but that’s probably a whole different blog post. But just think of it as your own little footprint of bacteria. This is developed within your guts and comes from your mother at birth. These bacteria in your gut communicate with your brain in different ways including the vagus nerve (which we treat regularly in craniosacral therapy) and hormones which again we can work with in cranio.

When our gut bacteria are out of balance we can be left feeling down, washed out, our skin can suffer with conditions like eczema and it can worsen asthmatic symptoms and allergies to name a few things.

So how can you improve your gut health and encourage positive effects on your gut brain?

Craniosacral Therapy

In cranio we are making a direct connection to the different nervous systems of the body. We can work directly with the vagus nerve, we can work with the glands that are producing the hormones that play a part in the gut brain axis, and we can work directly with the intestines. We can support the body to move back to a place of balance and strengthen the gut brain axis.

Kombucha

This is a fermented tea drink. It has grown hugely in popularity in the past couple of years. It’s even found its way into cocktails! You can buy it in healthfood shops and most supermarkets now or you can buy your own kit and ferment your own. Companies such as Lakeland and Amazon sell Kombucha kits or you can search online. I had one from Happy Kombucha, they are super helpful and my kit worked really well.

Kefir

Kefir is a drink that comes in two forms, water based kefir and milk based. My personal favourite is water based kefir. I got to try this in Vinnie’s Eatery the other day. They homebrew their own Kombucha and water kefir and it was super tasty.

Saukerkraut

This German picked cabbage dish is super tasty and can be purchased in supermarkets or you can make your own.

Kimchi

Is the Korean version of pickled cabbage again can be purchased or if you are feeling adventurous you could make your own!

Probiotics

Another way to encourage good gut health is to take probiotics. I would recommend going to a healthfood shop or pharmacist if you would like more information about these. I buy mine from the Nutrition Centre in Cheltenham. I take it first thing in the morning with a glass of water.

Sleep

We all know how important sleep is to our bodies and minds.

Here are some tips on how to get a better nights sleep.

  1. Establish a routine

    Try to do the same things every evening to wind down. To support your body’s natural circadian rhythm try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day. Your body will naturally get used to this pattern.

  2. Cut down on screen time before bed.

    The blue light from our screens is super stimulating for our bodies. Try and limit your screen time as much as possible before going to bed. Rest your eyes with reading a book or magazine to help settle your system. You can also set night time mode on most devices now. My favourite app for this is called Flux, which I have on all my devices including my laptop. You enter your wake up and bed time and the app will naturally adjust the white light on your screen.

  3. Stretch, meditate, breath, be mindful.

    Maybe you like yoga or pilates and could try a few restorative positions before going to bed. You could try meditation. There are some great apps out there with sleep meditations, Calm is my favourite, which I do every night in bed. You could also find some free ones on Youtube. If meditation feels a bit too far fetched, you can just follow your breathing. Follow your in and out breath, or try counting. The Breath Guy on instagram has some great breathwork tips. If all of that feels too tricky to begin with, just do something before bed that is mindful. When you brush your teeth, have two minutes where you are just brushing your teeth. Notice how the toothpaste tastes, how does the brush feel, notice the movements and just be with what you are doing.

  4. Aromatherapy and Scent

    Aromatherapy oils in a diffuser can help settle the system. Lavender and Veitiver are two of my favourites. You can find pre-blended oil such as the Neal's Yard Night time blend. Or have a look for yummy night time candles. Go with something you like and incorporate this in your bed time routine.

  5. Herbs

    Herbs such as skullcap and valerian can help relax the body and mind. I like to have a night time tea, my favourite is Pukka.

  6. Temperature

    Your body doesn’t want to be too warm when you are sleeping. You can take a warm shower or bath before bed to help the body cool. You could again use some aromatherapy like a lavender bath oil. Aromatic foaming bath from Neals Yard is lovely. If you can maybe turn your radiator down in your bedroom or get some fresh air circulating.

  7. Sleep Diary

    If you are going through a time where your sleep is super unsettled you could keep a sleep diary. This may help you notice patterns of what is affecting your sleep. You might even find you have something on your mind and the diary may support this.

  8. Craniosacral Therapy

    Last but not least! Craniosacral supports your “rest and digest” nervous system. A huge benefit of this is improved sleep. Lots of my clients say that’s the first thing they notice after a session is how well they sleep.