Healthy Mind, Healthy Body

The gut is often referred to as the second brain. You have probably used phrases similar to the following to describe your feelings in certain situations: “Going with my gut”; “I have butterflies in my stomach”; “That was a gut-wrenching experience”. We use these expressions for a reason: the digestive system is sensitive to our emotions. Anger, anxiety, sadness, joy — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut.

In Chinese medicine the stomach, pancreas and spleen are affected by worry. The liver and gallbladder are affected by anger and frustration. The large intestine is affected by grief and depression. The small intestine is affected by happiness and joy, or lack thereof.

Moreover, this “gut/brain” connection goes both ways. The thought of eating yummy food can trigger the digestive process before food makes its way into the mouth. A troubled (or inflamed) digestive system can make the “thought” of eating seem repulsive.

So, how does stress affect the gut…and how does the gut affect the brain?

When a person experiences emotional stress a physical response takes place. This is often described as the ‘flight or fight’ response. Adrenaline and cortisol are the biochemical results of stress and both of these hormones have significant effects on the health and integrity of the gut. This flight or fight response diverts blood flow away from the digestive system to supply the arms and legs with blood for “fleeing” from a stressful situation. This change in blood flow and the stressed state are reflected in changes in skin temperature, and patterns of inflammation, over regions of the body.

Once a perceived threat has passed, blood flow and hormone levels return to normal and inflammation subsides but chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. Chronic stress eventually causes the digestive system to break down which suppresses the immune system. Once the immune system is weakened, the balance of good/bad bacteria in the gut becomes off kilter.

“Healthy” bacteria in the gut produce B Vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids and other substances which are necessary to manufacture adequate levels of serotonin and dopamine, our “happy” neurotransmitters. Since the majority of serotonin is produced in the gastro-intestinal tract, an imbalance of bacteria in the gut can affect the “brain” and mental health.

When the gut is damaged by stress and the microbial population favors “unhealthy” types of bacteria, serotonin is not produced in adequate amounts. This creates an environment that can contribute to anxiety and depression.

So, the answer to the question is ‘No’! We cannot have a healthy body without a healthy mind and vice- versa. Over the past two decades, it has been determined through extensive clinical studies that inflammation is not just a result of stress and sickness, but the actual CAUSE of serious, life threatening conditions like heart disease, cancer and diabetes. This condition is silent but not invisible.

So how can one “see” their current state of health?
Thermography can see your body asking for help and it can identify the areas that need attention first.  Thermography is the only assessment tool that can visualize inflammation: where it is, where it is coming from, and what it may lead. In a nutshell, this tool creates a high definition digital map of your body that illustrates temperature patterns — patterns that are consistent with inflammation.

We recommend thermography as a way of evaluating your overall level of stress and your digestive health. Thermography can identify areas of inflammation or congestion in the digestive system. Thermography can also help you to visualize your level of stress.  The thermal patterns that present on the skin may indicate liver stress, congestion in the small or large intestine or lymph related issues. This can help you and your practitioner to plan your treatment protocol accordingly. Thermography is not diagnostic for any specific condition, but it is highly sensitive and can identify very early signs of inflammatory or physiological changes in the body.

What can one “do” about stress?
For emotional stress, nothing is more important than moderate exercise. Heavy exercise may overtax your body and deplete physical resources. Dietary modifications are also important. Be aware that diet plans and supplements that contain a “cure all, good for all” tag line aren’t all they are cracked up to be. We each need a personalized nutrition and supplementation plan: unfortunately, there is no cookie cutter approach to our health. Regarding food, think light and fresh. Regarding emotions, practice patience, forgiveness, kindness, gratitude and let go of anger and resentment.

Do you have the guts to be healthy? Why don’t you find out with thermography! The knowledge you gain offers you the power to take control of your future health and the length and quality of the rest of your life.

Healthier is Smarter!

Sharon Edwards -BA, R(Hom), DNM, RNCP, CTT