A Slow Down Day blog
It’s a wonderful time of the year; but dwindling daylight hours, long dark nights, not moving enough, winter colds and flu, festive overindulgence, and money and family worries means the end of the year can leave you feeling frazzled and stressed.
If you are frazzled and stressed look after your gut health and it will help look after your physical AND mental wellbeing.
Did you know your gut and your brain communicate with each other and that changes in one will affect the other?
Bacteria in your gut influences your brain chemistry in various ways, including how you respond to stress. Conversely your brain affects your gut bacteria, stress negatively affects the balance of microbes in your gut. Slowing down can influence both your brain and your gut microbes, and therefore your mood and stress levels.
De-stress your diet:
Cut back on sugary foods and stimulants (caffeine, nicotine) that help prime your body's stress response. Sugary foods and ultra-processed / refined carbohydrates also negatively impact gut flora by encouraging bad-bugs to flourish so cutting back on these is key.
Learn to actively relax and adapt to difficult situations with less stress and debilitation. This helps shift the body’s stress response away from constant ‘fight or flight’ and into ‘rest and digest’ mode for greater equilibrium. Slowing your breathing, heart rate, and oxygen consumption, increase brain and muscle relaxation. Effective techniques for eliciting this active relaxation response include most forms of meditation, yoga, ta’I chi, qi gong, guided imagery, and abdominal breathing. (Meditation works best for me!)
Following a dietary pattern rich in fresh produce, including a variety of brightly-coloured vegetables, fruits, olive oil, nuts and seeds helps promote gut bacterial balance and diversity and may help support communication pathways between the gut microbiota and the brain.
Maria Zaretti BSc DipION mBANT is a Registered Nutritional Therapist with clinics in Deal and Canterbury. She sees clients with gastrointestinal related health issues and helps vegans, vegetarians and omnivores to find their best health and vitality.
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