Supporting Your Immune System - The Connection Between Your Brain and Gut
By: Dr. Fiona Lovely, DC
Recently, a panel of AST experts joined forces to discuss the important topic of immunity. I had the pleasure of sharing the connections between the brain and the gut and below are just a few of my takeaways.
The human immune system is made up (in part) by the 4.4lbs of organisms (100 trillion of them!) which make up the human microflora, or microbiome and cells of the lining of the gut. The health and stability of the microbiome is what you are establishing and feeding when you take your daily probiotic. Think of it like a garden to be cultivated. They are bacteria, parasites, fungi, virus living within us and helping to regulate the system. They even contribute to our DNA, our genetic makeup and our ability to adapt to any environment. Poor diet, stress, chronic disease and antibiotic therapy will diminish or eliminate the bugs of our gut. You must re-seed the garden after antibiotics and it must be inoculated with a high quality probiotic supplement ongoing. I am often asked why it is important to eat organic - remember this, the pesticides, fungicides, etc that are sprayed on our produce are not fruit and vegetable selective! They will kill off your microbiome too.
The health of these systems, the microbiome, your organ reserves and health and your voluntary inputs (nutrition, stress management, exercise, etc.) make up the terrain that dictates how healthy you are. Terrain is the term used to describe the inner environment of a human being. The health of the terrain explains why some get sick and some do not.
What can you do to help the health of your gut?
Let’s look at stress. When you are experiencing stress, your defences diminish because the brain is sending resources to the stress response system. We are living through one of the most intensely stressful times in our history, so if you are feeling stress, you aren’t alone. Stress is our current way of life, it isn’t going away anytime soon, you cannot control it. But what you can control is your response to something stressful. Are there calming thoughts you can have when something stressful comes up? Can you pause to meditate or incorporate meditation into your daily routine?
Take a closer look at all of the different things that you are consuming daily. News? Negative people? Toxic relationships or stinking thinking? Are you a complainer? Do you engage in drama? All of these things encourage you to have both negative thinking and a survival response. When you are surviving, your blood flow shunts from the extremities to the core organs resulting in your immune system taking a back seat to critical functions.
Here are three things you can start doing today to help with gut health and thus, immunity too:
- Here's a quick way to check your breathing. (One hand on your chest, one on the belly and eyes closed. Take three deep breaths. Which hand moves more?). Chest breathing happens when we are sympathetic dominant or in survival mode. When you breath shallowly, your brain gets the signal that you aren’t safe, which deepens the survival mode, it can last for years! So, soften belly while you breath, exhale longer than you inhale.
- Get your gut right by eating the foods which heal rather than inflame the lining of your intestines. Identify food allergies and eliminate them from your diet. Eat probiotic and prebiotic foods, and ensure you supplement daily.
- Have a gratitude habit. Start to recognize where and what and whom you can be thankful for. Gratitude lowers inflammation, boosts immunity and makes you better looking too!
Healthy mind = healthy brain = healthy gut = healthy immunity = health.
*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Three Things You Need to Know if You Have a Concussion
[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Fiona Lovely
Concussions can happen anytime to anyone. We are learning quickly just how far reaching the effects of a mild traumatic brain injury can be. Unfortunately, they can last way beyond the original injury. There is much you can do when you have a recent concussion and getting this info into play in a timely fashion can go far into resolving the symptoms of a concussion.
There are three things you should know if you have a concussion. Here is that critical info for you:
- Rest is the most important factor in whether your symptoms last a week or 6 months or more. Get serious about rest during this time! Take a week off of work, school and all recreational activities. Yes, I’m serious! Your brain needs this rest. But please don’t fill up your time with screen time - smart phone, tablet, laptop or TV. The bright lights, loud sounds and rapidly moving graphics on a screen are deadly to your brain at this sensitive time.
Things you can do while resting:
- Listen to quiet music or a podcast.
- Read a paper book or magazine in natural lighting.
- Play a board game or cards.
Yes, this sounds boring but lots of us grew up without devices and turned out just fine! Embrace the quiet. Sleep as much as you want to. Give yourself permission to rest. Just to drive this point home a bit more - taking time off now will absolutely make the difference in whether this injury continues to make you miserable for months (or years even) or for a week. Rest like your life depends on it, because the quality of your life after concussion, does.
- Food is the second critical piece to getting yourself back to your life after a concussion. Here are some things that you should do:
- Eat like an athlete. Lots of protein and healthy fats.
- Eliminate processed foods and sugar.
- Eat smaller more frequent meals.
- Great choices include nuts, free range eggs, avocado, natural raised meats, veggies and fruit.
- Take extra care to include fatty fish like salmon, tuna, etc. Brain foods!
Drink plenty of water - 2-3 litres daily if you are an adult (half of your body weight in ounces if you are uncertain exactly how much). No sugary drinks or milk. Drink water.
There are 3 supplements I recommend for everyone with a traumatic brain injury:
- Omega Fats - Omega fats rebuild the structure of the brain (along with the fish, avocado, nuts and coconut oil you are eating).
- Vitamin D - Vitamin D acts to help the brain structure clean up the cellular debris from the physical injury.
- Probiotics - These are the healthy bugs that reside in our gut and make up a big portion of our immune system and contribute massively to our overall health. Turns out there is constant communication from these bugs in our gut via the Vagus nerve to the brain. Let these bugs be the healthy ones (not just the pathological bugs we pick up along the way without proper probiotic inoculation.)
Now, if you have managed to do a good job of 1 & 2, you won’t need number 3. If your symptoms persist beyond a week or two, refer to number 3:
- Rehab for a concussion is sometimes the only way to feeling well again. If you have applied rest and good food principles and you still don’t feel well, you may require some help getting your brain firing on all cylinders again. Functional Neurology, often called Chiropractic Neurology can help. After completing a thorough assessment of your specific brain function, we can create a rehab plan specifically for your brain and its needs. Using adjustments, movement and the 5 senses, we can re-wire the parts of your brain that are broken. It’s called neuroplasticity and basically it means that the neurons that fire together, wire together. Reinforcements of these connections over time mean you get your brain back to normal! Neuro rehab is fun and will teach you a great deal about how your brain functions and how it can function optimally.
There are few in the country who are trained properly to assess and rehab your brain functionally after injury so it’s important to research and select a qualified professional. If you have questions about a concussion please reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org. I am proud to be a part of the wellness team at Active Sports Therapy.
*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]