Restore Body/Brain Balance
Tips for a More Enjoyable Holiday Season
by Lynn DelGaudio and Emily Fischer-Bunker
The holidays are almost here and just the anticipation of the season can really improve our mood…. for a while anyway. We’ve all been there. It’s the onset of the holidays and we’re elated, but over time, we feel worn out, stressed out, and before we know it, we’ve overeaten and feel overall lousy. This is a good indication that our body and mind are out of balance.
Our body is a set of inter-influential systems. When the systems are working in harmony, functioning properly, we have well-being. However, when they are out of balance, this disrupts the proper function of our systems, and in turn, hinders our well-being. We may feel anxious, sick, foggy, depressed, etc. One of the most influential connections in the body is the gut-brain connection and getting it in harmony will have a profound impact on every other system, and our overall well-being in body and mind.
Restoring harmony is as easy as these tips:
- Manage your stress!! You can do this through breathwork, exercise, meditation, a walk in the park etc. This is enormously important for many reasons, but we’ll just list a few here:
- First, stress suppresses gastrointestinal secretions, such as stomach acid and enzymes, that aid in the digestion and extraction of nutrients from our food. And our food (or lack of nutrients) directly impacts our mood.
- Secondly, stress interferes with our bodies ability to repair the mucosal lining, which can lead to gut permeability; a.k.a Leaky Gut, meaning the gut lining, which is supposed to act as a filter to allow only those nutrients our body needs into our bloodstream, ends up allowing proteins, small food particles, and toxins into our bloodstream. This creates inflammation in the body and brain, impacting brain function and mental well-being.
- Thirdly, stress can lead to up to four times less blood flow to the digestive system which leads to a decrease in metabolism. And a decreased metabolism can lead to weight gain, which can impact our mood and clarity.
- Increase your fiber intake through a Practice appreciation. The practice of appreciation is a powerful tool! It helps to keep the mind in a clean, calm state, by shifting us into the regions in the brain where growth and healing are possible. Bonus: it just feels good! With our busy lives and overconsumption of media, we tend to spend too much time in stress, fear, and anxiety. Practicing appreciation brings us into the present moment and a much happier state. And what better time of year than around Thanksgiving and Christmas to either begin or really amp up your practice!? plant-based, whole food diet. This promotes healthy digestion, increases the beneficial bacteria in the gut, which helps boost the immune system, enhances functions in the body, and generally improves overall health. In addition, this improves the regularity of bowel movements and that has a direct impact on your mood.
- Exercise! This doesn’t have to be anything major or strenuous; simply taking daily walks can be incredibly beneficial. The gentle movement has been shown to increase gut motility, decrease stress, improve mood, enhance immune system function, and improve wellbeing.
- Meditate! This is one of THE best ways to clear the mind and decrease stress! The nervous system and the gut are inextricably linked, so when we calm the nervous system through meditation, we activate the ‘rest and digest’ (parasympathetic) response, which can help alleviate digestive issues, decrease inflammation, improve nutrient absorption and metabolism. Just ten
minutes a day will bring profound changes! Try it!
- Avoid inflammatory foods. That may seem a little difficult to do around the holidays, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips:
- Make a plan for how you will deal with the temptations of ‘junk’ foods. Having healthy snacks on hand, eating a little something satiating before going to a party, and deciding how often you will allow yourself a small indulgence are all ways of helping prevent the after-holidays blues.
- Follow the 80/20 rule and eat well (healthy) 80% of the time but allow yourself to indulge 20% of the time (you can make this 90/10 if you like!!) Some foods to reduce/limit are sugar, dairy, and alcohol. Foods to avoid altogether are gluten, trans fats. By eliminating and/or reducing these inflammatory foods, you will reduce inflammation in your gut. By reducing inflammation in the gut, you reduce inflammation in the brain.
- A special note on sugar: An increase in sugary foods during the holidays combined with chronic stress leads to weight gain, low energy, and increased inflammation and can also lead to depression and anxiety so we strongly urge you to limit sugar as much as possible.
We hope these tips are helpful! By tending to your gut-brain connection, you can improve your mood, decrease inflammation, improve immune function, restore well-being, and help you enjoy everything the holiday season has to offer!
Lynn DelGaudio is the founder of LD Consulting “Live Deliberately” and is an integrative health coach with particular emphasis on the mind/brain/body connection. She resides in Morrisville, NC. Visit her at https://lynndelgaudio.com (“Live Deliberately!”). And check out her book Altered on Impact at Amazon!
Emily Fischer-Bunker is an integrative health coach specializing in gut health. She resides in Summerville, SC. Find her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/WellnessJourneyHealthCoaching and at www.JourneyToWellness.net