Taking care of one's digestive system requires more than just healthy eating and taking a probiotic supplement — we must take into account our mental health and our nervous system. The nervous system is made up of our brain, spinal cord, and the nerves that run throughout our whole body. Given that our brains are what controls the body’s different functions, it makes sense that a dysregulated nervous system can cause a host of different health issues including an unstable digestive process.
In addition to digestive complications, other symptoms that might arise from a dysregulated nervous system include fatigue, brain fog, irritability, and appetite fluctuation. Let us break down how we can fix a dysregulated nervous system and how to avoid it.
Factors That Can Contribute To A Dysregulated Nervous System
The nervous system becomes dysregulated when there is a disruption in the link between the sympathetic and parasympathetic areas of the nervous system. Certain issues such as chronic stress, burnout, and hormonal fluctuation can increase your chances of experiencing a dysregulated nervous system.
When you are chronically stressed or burned out, your body does not have the ability to recuperate and do the job it needs to do in order to support you. That is why taking care of yourself requires more than just physical awareness. Mental stability and awareness is just as important.
With the hustle and bustle of daily life, it can become easy to lose sight of this and in turn cause burnout and chronic stress. It is important to check-in with yourself from time to time throughout the week to better understand your mental and physical needs. When your body is in a constant state of stress, it is constantly fighting the battle between fight or flight. Be sure to implement relaxing practices into your routine to bring your body down from this state of distress.
An unstable digestive tract can also trigger dysregulation of the nervous system. Part of the nervous system lives within your digestive tract, and when your digestive tract is experiencing inflammation or complications, this can negatively impact the cells that make up your nervous system. Practices such as mindful eating, taking a supplement that helps with bloating, a probiotic supplement, and gut health enzymes can all support your digestive tract to avoid negatively triggering your nervous system.
How To Fix An Unstable Nervous System to Avoid Its Complications
Luckily, there are ways to regulate your nervous system when it becomes unstable! Have you ever heard about your vagus nerve? Stimulating your vagus nerve will send a message to your body that it is time to relax. Being in a constant state of fight-or-flight will cause you to experience a load of negative complications. Here are some ways to trigger your vagus nerve and support your nervous system through your daily practices.
- Achieve Quality Sleep - Sleep is the time in which your body and brain become rejuvenated. A dysregulated nervous system can cause insomnia and sleep anxiety, which will make it hard to achieve quality sleep. In order to minimize the impact of the nervous system on your sleep and to support it instead, try and limit exposure to light after sundown and tap into your circadian rhythm.
- Meditation and Deep Breathing - Breathing from your abdomen with intention will stimulate your vagus nerve and push our bodies into a state of relaxation. We breathe constantly throughout our day, but being intentional with your breathing will make all the difference. Try and find a guided meditation to take you through intentional breathing practices.
- Cold Water Exposure - Exposing your body to cold water can also push your body into a state of relaxation. It is also known to help boost one’s mood and reduce inflammation. It is recommended to start easy with cold water exposure and slowly usher your body into prolonged periods of exposure.
- Grounding - When is the last time you have exposed your feet to earth’s natural substances? Grounding refers to the method in which you settle your feet into the earth and allow its magic to take place. Directly connecting your body with the earth is known to reduce inflammation, reduce anxiety, and inspire a boost in one’s mood. These positive benefits also directly relate to the regulation of the nervous and digestive processes.
Foods That Are Beneficial For Your Nervous and Digestive System
Now that we know how to regulate your nervous system, let us dive into different foods and substances that are beneficial for your nervous and digestive systems. The foods we consume directly impact the way we feel and the support the different systems in our bodies have.
Foods That Heal Your Nervous System
- Blueberries - Blueberries contain antioxidants such as flavonoids that help to promote stable mental health. It can specifically target the areas of a person’s brain that are responsible for storing memories and learning.
- Chamomile - Chamomile has relaxing properties that can help to reduce feelings of anxiety and insomnia. As noted above, sleep is incredibly important in protecting your nervous system, and chamomile can help get you to a place of proper sleep quality.
- Dark Chocolate - Certain substances found in dark chocolate are known to increase the blood flow to a person’s brain. The increase in brain power has direct correlation to protecting your nervous system.
Foods That Are Beneficial For Your Digestive System
- Whole Grains - Whole grains contain fiber and prebiotics, which are two substances that are incredibly beneficial for the digestive process. Fiber helps to increase the bulk of a person’s stool and promotes more regular bowel movements. Prebiotics are needed to properly digest and use probiotics within your body.
- Kefir - Kefir contains microorganisms that are beneficial to your digestive tract. These microorganisms contribute to your overall gut microbiome that requires beneficial bacteria in order to thrive. Be sure to incorporate kefir or similar foods in your diet to reap its benefits.
- Ginger - Ginger helps to reduce inflammation, decrease bloating, help with acid reflux, and promote regular bowel movements. Due to its versatility, ginger is easy to incorporate into your meals or beverages. One of our personal favorite ways to increase ginger intake is by mixing it into our herbal teas in the mornings and evenings.