How your bacteria rule your moods – Jan 2023.

Happy new year to all my students and yoga retreat attendees! And to put us in the mood for a cracking 2023 and help you stick to those NY Resolutions this is Article 4 of our series on nourishing your gut biome for our Yoga Retreat: Move, Breathe, Love (31/3/23 – 2/4/23) held in Springbrook, QLD. And if you’ve ever longed to go on yoga retreat, if you’ve been sitting on the fence for years hoping for the right one or you are just a thrill seeker who loves challenging new things – well this is the retreat for you! For beginners to advanced yogis, packed with yoga, breathwork, meditation, silence and fun, you will be forever changed (for the better) from this retreat.

So most of us know by now that what we eat affects how we feel. Pig out on processed food for a couple of days and you start to feel sad and bloated – a little nauseous, maybe anxious and just blah. So this horrible non- food messes with your bacteria and the complex nerve signals from those bacteria which travel along the vagus nerve up to your brain. These messages don’t work very well and your brain starts to send signals to your body that things are not good, hence the anxiety, depression and uneasy mental state. And this pathway of nerve signals and chemicals travels both ways along the vagus nerve: gut to brain and brain to gut. Now the gut brain connection goes way back to the 1930s, but mainstream medical has only taken it seriously in the last 30 years or so. It’s now well established that the health of your gut controls your emotional state and for people with bipolar, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, dementia and Parkinson’s, they have quite different biome populations compared to healthy people.

The gut brain connection was graphically illustrated in Walkerton, Ontario in May 2000 when the town was flooded after heavy rain and the town’s water supply became contaminated with E Coli and other bacteria from a neighbouring cattle farm. Two thousand people were infected and 6 died. What was interesting though was that hundreds of people, after recovering from the original infection, came down with IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome: cramps, diarrhoea, wind, constipation etc.) and DEPRESSION. And these same people were monitored for the next 8 years and those with IBS and depression which could NOT be cured, were found to have had poor gut health even BEFORE the flooding and the original E.coli infection. So these poor people continued to struggle with mental health issues long after the original infection because their guts, which were leaky and imbalanced to start with, had been compromised to such a degree.

Well, you think, if I just guzzle down heaps of probiotics, prebiotics and probiotic food my mental health issues will evaporate, correct? Yes and No. You’ll go a long way to helping any mental health issue but the gut brain connection needs a little more to become truly balanced. Many people eat the most incredible diets and still suffer from mental health challenges and the culprit is unmanaged stress. So top down (brain to gut) research has shown that psychological trauma can lead to digestive problems, inflammation, ulcers, IBS, IBD, Cohn’s, and more. The gut- mind link is a two way street. Healing the gut is impossible without addressing your ability to manage emotion and stress.

What to do? Come to yoga, even better come on yoga retreat. Yoga has been proved the strongest movement modality to stimulate and nourish your vagus nerve, your digestive system and through breathwork and meditation allow you to control the monkey mind. A highly toned vagus nerve and a healthy body equates to happy, chill, balanced emotions. Hope you can join us and contact me if you need more details. Namaste… Margot

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