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Why how you breathe can help your gut

You know that feeling you get when you are about to do something you are worried about? Maybe a difficult conversation with a friend or family member, maybe a presentation at work or let’s be honest- right now, turning on the news?

Your tummy gurgles, churns, maybe you feel butterflies or a bit sick?

This is a clear example of how our gut responds when we are feeling nervous about something in our minds.

And it cuts both ways. When you have eaten something that makes you feel bloated, or maybe eaten too much, that huge delicious piece of cake that looked so good in the window and now feels like a lump of lead in your tummy.

Upsetting our gut with what we eat can leave is feeling pretty rubbish too- maybe more tired, or even a bit grumpy. 

The science behind how these 2 parts of our body is evolving and more is being discovered all the time. 

2 key ways we think our brain and gut are in constant communication are

  1. Via our microbiome  which is the  name given huge numbers  of bacteria and bugs that live and our gut 
  2. Via our Vagus ( vay-gus)  nerve. This is a tricky one -essentially this nerve, as well as having important roles in bodily functions and our nervous system, communicates information about our organs including the gut to our brain. Our bodies are amazing!  

So what can we do? 

Eating a diet rich in vegetables, fibre and water is key to supporting the healthy balance of bacteria in our gut. Prebiotics is a term used for specific types of fibre that is non digestible which feeds the bacteria in our gut . This is a good thing!  

Sources of  prebiotic fibre include garlic and onions 

Deep breathing 

Breathing exercises which help relaxation and support our nervous system can slow our heart rate and also improve digestion. Focusing on our breathing can also help with anxious thoughts and reduce stress. It’s also a good one for before bed to help us fall asleep, especially when we have a lot on our minds… 

A simple example is the 4-7-8 technique  

Try it by 

  1. Exhaling though your mouth then taking a deep breath in through your nose for a count of 4
  2. Hold the breath for a count of 7
  3. Breathe out through your mouth, to a count of 8. This makes a whooshing sound so also a good one to try with kids!

Repeat the cycle 4 times. 

Dr Clara Russell