Set your 2021 Intentions and Listen to Your Gut Instincts
by Karlene Georgiadis
Have you ever had that deep gut feeling where you are having a physical reaction to the world around – and that ‘feeling,’ or the reaction is coming from inside you?
That instinctual ‘gut feeling’ is your body carrying out a primal response to subconscious information. The ultimate purpose of your gut instinct is to protect you. Your gut instincts are your primal ‘sixth sense’ that you can rely on if you know how to listen. Here is why…
The human gut is often referred to as the “second brain,” but it is the only organ to have its own independent nervous system embedded in the gut wall which is where 80% of your immune system resides also.
The complex gut- neural network operates via the major conduit being the vagus nerve from the brain. (I love the vagus nerve, but it is a complicated sucker!! Keeping it balanced is a work of art: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5859128/
Check out the link if you want to geek out on the vagus nerve like I do!!
A little-known fact:
Did you know, at birth, every gut is sterile?
In time, your gut develops diverse bacterial species, determined in part by genetics, the health of your mother in pregnancy and at birth, breastfeeding, diet and lifestyle.
All the microbiota in your gut are critical to health. It’s about:
- Nutrient intake
- Making more nutrients (your gut bacteria help with this)
- Immune system reactions
- Building the gut wall
- Protection from invasion
But wait there is more…
Gut bacteria also produce hundreds of neurochemicals that the brain uses to regulate basic physiological processes, as well as mental processes such as learning, memory and mood.
Ahah! so, the gut is really a second brain… it’s communicating to and from the brain, by producing neurochemicals just like the brain. How cool is that?
Serotonin is such a star neurotransmitter in the gut that can stimulate the movement of food (called peristalsis) and induce nausea and vomiting by switching on the vagus nerve.
In addition, serotonin it is essential for the regulation of vital functions, such as appetite and sleep, and contributes to feelings of well-being and mood.
Your gut microbiota manufactures 95% percent of the body’s supply of serotonin, which influences both mood and gut activity. But the serotonin made in the gut is used in the gut. Brain serotonin is another supply.
It is via the important connection of the vagus nerve that the gut talks to the brain about serotonin and its production – it is a 2-way communication.
Just as gut bacteria affect the brain, the brain can also exert profound influences on the gut microbiota—with feedback that effects all of our behaviours.
What you are feeding your gut microbiota is of prime importance as is the gut environment and health of the gut lining. Of similar importance is what you ingest and ruminate on in your number one (head) brain.
- What you are reading?
- What are you watching and listening to?
- Keep your mind and gut clean – weed out the bad and unnecessary as often as you can.
Daily practices such as yoga, meditation, Qigong and Tai Chi help keep our vagus nerve toned. Hypnotherapy is also a way to tone your vagus nerve. Rest and deep breathing are also on the list. Clean food, plenty of vegetables with loads of colour and variety will support your microbiota.
Sleep, connection, and love…… with an extra dollop of self-love for good measure!
Now that’s a recipe for wellness!
So, the cleaner your thoughts, and food intake, distinguishing those spontaneous feelings that come from your gut instinct, will mean it is always safe to trust your gut.
Trusting your instincts is an invaluable life skill and one that will guide you on the spiritual path. Just like a muscle gets stronger with use, so does gut instinct too. After all, this instinct is built into our very DNA, so why not make the most use out of it?
My final recommendation is to practice mindfulness meditation daily if you’ve been struggling to trust your gut. Mindfulness will help you to become aware of your thoughts and body sensations. The more awareness you can develop, the easier it will be to make the distinction and your gut instincts will strengthen and become second-nature to you.