On and Off Your Mat Yoga Podcast
Your Nervous System and Digestion, with Rachel Everett
Have you ever noticed some digestive perturbation when something happens and you're extremely stressed? I remember my first day as a high school substitute teacher… I won't get into the details but knowing that a high level of stress can affect our digestion, what about our very common chronic low, medium levels of stress? Or what about anxiety?
For today’s episode, I sat down with Rachel Everett. Rachel is a Registered Dietitian with a virtual private practice focused on helping women find lasting relief from IBS symptoms. She specializes in using a holistic approach that includes diet, lifestyle, and functional lab testing to identify and address the root cause of symptoms. Her proven framework has helped many women beat the bloat for good, regain trust with their bodies, and build confidence with food! We sat down today to talk about the impact of the nervous system on our digestion and how things like yoga, meditation, and myofascial release can directly improve our digestion.
MY 5 BIGGEST TAKEAWAY FROM THIS EPISODE
- Our bowel habits are still taboo, so people can go a very long time without seeking help, considering their symptoms to be normal. Urgency, less than 1 bowel movement a day, not feeling empty after a bowel movement, bloating after eating and smelly gas are all red flags. Use a food, mood, and symptoms journal to track what's happening and get a clearer idea.
- Chronic stress is the most common underlying root issue of all our digestive symptoms. Treating the symptoms is only a short-term solution.
- The parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for sending a signal to release saliva, stomach acids, digestive enzymes, bile and also to stimulate motility in the gut. If your body is busy taking care of the stressful perceived threats, it will shot down your digestion to redirect the energy in a more "efficient" way. The issue is that we still need to digest even when we are chronically stressed, so we need to address our stress to improve our digestion.
- General lifestyle adjustments to improve your digestion include slowing down, yoga (or another low-intensity movement practice), meditation, journaling, and deep breathing) Create consistency is key. Right before a meal, take a moment to take a few deep breaths, be mindful engaging all your senses while you eat, and chew thoroughly.
- The vagus nerve is the light switch for the parasympathetic nervous system. Stimulating the vagus nerve on a daily basis with deep breathing exercises, gargling, humming, loud singing, meditation, gagging, prayer, gratitude, contrast shower, and vagus nerve exercises will help you feel more grounded, emotionally more self-regulated, and digest more efficiently.
QUESTIONS SHE ANSWERED DURING THIS EPISODE
- Can you explain what IBS and SIBO are?
- What are common digestive symptoms we might have and we might not consider them to be symptoms of anything, but that are in fact red flags?
- How can people observe, be a scientist about what’s going on?
- Why look at something like your nervous system when it comes to treating digestive issues?
- How does the nervous system work with the digestive system?
- What are some general lifestyle things we can do to reduce our stress and in turn improve our digestion?
- What is the vagus nerve? Why should we care about it when it comes to digestion particularly?
- How can we improve our digestive symptoms by activating/stimulating the vagus nerve?
- What would a positive change in our vagal function look like in our digestion?
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OTHER ANNOUNCEMENTS: RETREAT / GO FUND ME + GIVEAWAY
I’ll be leading an Eco-Luxury Yoga Retreat in Mexico, in November 2021. I heard you, you’ve been craving to immerse yourself in yoga, nature, and community again so you can feel renewed and re-enliven. Many of us are suffering from zoom fatigue. So I’m offering you to hit the beach and the reset button so you can let go of this last year. You’ll find all the info for that retreat at erikabelanger.com/yoga-retreat-mexico.
In parallel, I have launched a Go-Fund-Me campaign. I know yoga retreats are an investment and I know how hard the last year has been. Yoga retreats were in my personal growth, so I wanted to give back. I’m raising money while investing alongside the community to make the experience of a yoga retreat available to students who wouldn’t be able to participate otherwise. If you’re able to donate anything you could transform someone’s life. And if you’re in need you can apply for the scholarship. And either way, I’d love for you to share it with the people you love and on social media. That’s a simple way you can directly impact others’ lives in a positive way. Find the Go-Fund-Me Campaign here.
I have a gift for you! Remember Julie from episode 83? Her new book The Transformation Journey was just released and she generously offered to give you guys a copy! Thank you so much if you left a review for the podcast and entered our giveaway. The winner is the iTunes user Arlie K. Arlie said: “This is *the* podcast for devoted yogis and novice practitioners alike! Erika and her guests make me feel completely at home here - bowled over by brilliant advice and nourishing conversations. Heart.” Thank you so much for your review, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org on DM on IG @onandoffyourmatpodcast, and I’ll send you your book!
ABOUT OUR GUEST
Rachel is a Registered Dietitian with a virtual private practice focused on helping women find lasting relief from IBS symptoms. She specializes in using a holistic approach that includes diet, lifestyle, and functional lab testing to identify and address the root cause of symptoms. Her proven framework has helped many women beat the bloat for good, regain trust with their bodies, and build confidence with food!
IG handle: @ibs.nutritionist