The Role of Friendly Bacteria, Diet, and More
Who isn't striving for a happy healthy life? A UK survey interviewing 2000 men and women found that men generally consider themselves happier and healthier than women. Men reported less stress or depression, fewer sleep issues, and less frequent headaches or digestive problems.
Here are five tips to help you navigate the moving target of a happy healthy life:
The Role of Friendly Bacteria: Did you know that most of the body's serotonin, often referred to as the “feel good” hormone, is found in your gut? The friendly bacteria that naturally inhabit your digestive tract influence serotonin production. This means changes to your digestive environment can directly impact your mood.
How to Deal with Inflammation Naturally: Inflammation can result from a poor diet, stress, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria, illness, medication, and other lifestyle factors. Adopting an alkaline diet, by reducing your intake of acid-forming food and drink, can help control inflammation levels, contributing to both physical and mental health.
Strengthen Your Immune System Naturally: The strength of your immune system can directly impact how you feel, both physically and mentally. Research suggests that there is a higher rate of depression among people with compromised immune function. Boost your immunity by supporting digestive health and ensuring a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, and protective nutrients in your daily diet.
The Importance of a Well-Balanced Diet: A well-balanced diet promotes emotional health, stable moods, and mental calmness. Nutrients such as iron, zinc, essential fatty acids, and B vitamins play a central role in mood stability. Support both a happy gut and a happy mind by eating a diet packed with nutrient-dense plants, fruits, vegetables, and other natural whole foods.
The Power of Meditation: Meditation can make you smarter by increasing your memory, attention, self-awareness, and self-control. It reduces cortisol production, a stress-induced hormone that suppresses the immune system and can make you feel anxious and unsettled. It also slows down the aging process by significantly increasing melatonin and DHEA and decreasing cortisol.
The digestive system requires a high level of enzyme activity to extract nutrients from food and put these into action around the body. As we age, when we come under stress, when we are ill and when we eat 'empty' processed foods, for example, our pool of enzymes is further depleted. It is therefore important to rely less on your own reserves and instead choose foods that supply enzymes.
By incorporating these tips into your lifestyle, you can aim for a happy healthy life. Remember, it's a moving target, and the journey is just as important as the destination.
Emotions can impact the gut, but diet can also affect the brain.
Therefore, support both a happy gut and a happy mind by eating a diet that is packed with nutrient-dense plants, fruit, vegetables, and other natural whole foods, that will provide high levels of enzymes, as well as other cleansing and protective nutrients (like dietary, antioxidants and phytochemicals).
Lust For Life lists 20 reasons why meditation is the best thing you could do right now, to keep the list short, we picked the following 5 reasons:
It makes you smarter by increasing your memory, attention, self-awareness, and self-control
Reduces cortisol production, a stress-induced hormone that suppresses the immune system and can make you feel anxious nervous and unsettled
- Reduces blood pressure and heart rate
- Increases neuroplasticity - the brain's ability to organize itself, adapt to demands and enables you to become more efficient in the learning process
- Slows down the aging process. Meditation significantly increases melatonin and DHEA and decreases cortisol, which has a significant impact on slowing the aging process down
Deep Breathing Benefits Brain!
Deep breathing is another powerful tool that benefits the brain. It strengthens the connection between our emotions and our guts, often referred to as your "second brain". Stress and other strong emotions can trigger discomfort and unpleasant digestive feelings. Therefore, it's crucial to maintain a healthy gut to promote a feeling of well-being and happiness.
Clearly, the relationship between emotional state and digestive health cannot be ignored. The relationship is so strong, it could have a significant impact on anything from immunity removing link and nutrient absorption, to levels of inflammation, digestive efficiency, and regularity.
It is not a coincidence that we have sayings like "gut instinct", "gut-wrenching" and "go with your gut". Stress, nerves and other strong emotions could trigger discomfort and unpleasant digestive feelings - including, bloating, loss of appetite, cramping, nausea, irritable bowel, and spasms.
Chewing your food thoroughly is another essential aspect of a well-balanced diet. Saliva contains digestive enzymes that start breaking down the food as you chew. Eating while calm and relaxed promotes maximum enzyme secretion and aids digestion.
Most of us don’t know (depending on the kind of food) that we need to chew our food at least 30 times before we finally swallow. According to Healthline chewing your food at least 30 times before you swallow it seems to be the magic number.
Saliva contains digestive enzymes, while chewing digestive enzymes start breaking down the food. This stage is particularly important for carbohydrate digestion - you are missing out on an important step in the digestive process if food is not being chewed thoroughly because you are bolting it down in a rush.
All too often people eat when they are distracted because they are in a hurry, are stressed or their mind is engaged elsewhere. How often do you eat at your desk or while watching TV?
Similarly, hydrochloric acid and enzymes are secreted in the stomach to digest protein. Stress inhibits all enzyme secretion - meaning that eating while feeling stressed could result in food that is incompletely digested, often followed by bloating, reflux and abdominal pain.
Partially digested food is bad news for gut health. It can result in fermentation in the stomach and small intestine, and then putrefaction in the colon - basically, food rotting in the gut! This, in turn, results in increased bacterial activity and the production and associated release of toxins. These toxins are then able to enter the bloodstream, through the colon, slowly poisoning the body over time.
Specific Activity of Enzymes
The digestive system requires a high level of enzyme activity to extract nutrients from food and put these into action around the body. It follows that it is sensible to put the least possible strain on the digestive system, which includes eating while calm and relaxed (to promote maximum enzyme secretion) and eating foods that are naturally rich in their own digestive enzymes (such as 'living foods', sprouted foods, fermented foods, fruit, vegetables and other whole foods). Wheat-grass is a great example.
Keep in mind, that there is a limited number of enzyme activity in everyone; as we age, when we come under stress, when we are ill and when we eat 'empty' processed foods, for example, our pool of enzymes is further depleted. It is therefore important to rely less on your own reserves and instead choose foods that supply enzymes. Supplementing can also be useful in this respect.
Your Gut is Your “Second Brain”
Studies show that stress and emotions impact digestion. The digestive tract contains over 100 million neurons and the largest collection of neural tissue in the body, after the brain. This has led to the gut often being referred to as the 'second brain'.
Known as the enteric nervous system, this complex system of tissues in the gut detects emotional signals from the brain. Interestingly, it also works the other way - an unhappy, unhealthy gut sends signals back to the brain. So, look after your digestive system to promote a feeling of well-being and happiness.
Majdi Shahein | Naturopathic Doctor and a Detox Specialist with Detoxification Works ®
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