A study from the National Institutes of Health showed that “grounding” or “earthing” might actually have a beneficial impact on health. The study states: “Emerging evidence shows that contact with the Earth—whether being outside barefoot or indoors connected to grounded conductive systems—may be a simple, natural, and yet profoundly effective environmental strategy against chronic stress, ANS dysfunction, inflammation, pain, poor sleep, disturbed HRV, hypercoagulable blood, and many common health disorders, including cardiovascular disease. The research done to date supports the concept that grounding or earthing the human body may be an essential element in the health equation along with sunshine, clean air and water, nutritious food, and physical activity.”
And here’s where the news gets even better. Treatment is free. Literally all you need to do is sit or stand barefoot on the ground outdoors. Hug a tree. Do some snow angels in the grass. Really, anything that puts your body into physical contact with planet earth and nature can be good for your health.
So now that the weather is starting to cool, it’s the perfect time to head to the great outdoors (or even just your yard) for a little relaxation and grounding.
“Trapezius muscle activity variation during computer work performed by individuals with and without neck-shoulder pain.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Research published on July 25, 2019 found that individuals with neck and shoulder pain exhibited longer uninterrupted periods of muscle activation compared to their non-symptomatic counterparts. This suggests that static posture and not poor posture may be the greater concern and contributor to pain. The research reiterates the importance of taking regular breaks when sitting in front of a computer screen.
Massage and acupuncture can help keep you functional, but studies like this show just how important it is for you to avoid being sedentary for too long.
Is your current health status due to a genetic predisposition, your lifestyle choices and mindset or a combination of both?
“A new study finds that if you tell people that they have a genetic predisposition to certain health characteristics, such as a low capacity for exercise or a tendency to overeat, their bodies start to respond accordingly. Even if their DNA does not actually contain the gene variants in question. The study raises provocative questions about the extent to which our genes affect our physical well-being.”
Mr. Turnwald, from the Department of Psychology at Stanford University stated that “our mind-sets, or mental expectations about ourselves, seem to play an equal or even greater role than does our DNA in shaping some of our bodies’ reactions to diet and exercise. But far more research is needed, he continues, to understand the interplay of genes, beliefs and health, and eventually help people better interpret any results they receive from genetic health tests.”
In clinic l will often hear something akin to “my mother had diabetes or my father had heart disease etc, so l am bound to get it.”
Recognizing genetic predisposition is important, however, as individuals, there is a lot that we can do to address lifestyle factors. Prevention can be powerful.
The phrase “butterflies in my stomach” refers to a common experience – that fluttery feeling in the stomach before a stressful event, a big presentation, a first date and even moments before riding on a rollercoaster or boarding a plane. It is an idiomatic expression that means that a person is anxious or has a nervous feeling in their stomach.
Although, patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID’s) will tend to focus on the possible physical causes of their symptoms (at the gut level), the relationship between psychological stress and the onset or exacerbation of symptoms should always be taken into consideration.
When an individual is stressed they will often be in a sympathetic state (fight or flight) which will do a number of things. It will:
– Inhibit gut transit and secretion
– Stimulate contractile activity of the sphincters
– Induce vasoconstriction and even modulate the mucosal immune system and microbiota
– Increase painful perceptions arising from gastrointestinal stimuli (referred to as visceral hypersensitivity), and
– Compromise the vago-vagal reflex
The vago-vagal reflex, which stimulates the secretion of a number of hormones, will be impaired and impact:
– Gastrin: which promotes the secretion of gastric acid and allows the stomach to break down food, enhance the absorption of nutrients and aid digestion.
– Somatostatin: which plays a physiological role in regulating gastric acid secretion, and is also thought to modulate the intestinal absorption rate and inhibit intestinal motility.
– Serotonin: which has a role in mood modulation. Given that 90% of it is made in the gut, it is no surprise that less than ideal levels of serotonin are linked to higher levels of depression and anxiety.
– Innate and acquired immunity.
The key message here is that although many of us will continue to experience “butterflies”, research suggests that working on ways to bring the body back into the parasympathetic state, and back into a state of calm, will aid digestion.
For many this may feel impossible and take time.
Sometimes, we have to sit in the uncomfortable and messy space for a short while, or as a Brene Brown puts it, lean in.
At other times, we may need some extra support and guidance from a close friend or family member, a counselor, a psychologist or psychotherapist.
I often encourage my patients to take small steps. To do what they can, and to continue to be gentle with the person that they are generally most impatient with, themselves.
The mind involves the whole body, and two-way communication between the brain and the cardiovascular, immune, and other systems via neural and endocrine mechanisms. Stress is a condition of the mind-body interaction, and a factor in the expression of …
I have previously discussed the term ‘allostasis’ which is described as the process by which stability is maintained in the face of stress. When the environment that we live in starts to exceed our capacity to keep up and our attempted adaptation fails, we start to experience a myriad of symptoms.
Digestive disturbances and disruption to the brain gut axis can commonly occur. The individual may also experience symptoms such as exhaustion, irritability, anxiety, weight gain, low immunity, hormonal problems, brain fog, insomnia and so forth.
The brain gut axis is a complex and bidirectional communication between the:
~ enteric nervous system (gut sensation, secretion, motility, permeability)
~ autonomic nervous system which is made up of the sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight), and the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and the
~ central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord).
The connection between stress and Irritable Bowel Syndrome has been studied extensively.
Researchers have found that:
~ Those with IBS experience heightened levels of anxiety and depression
~ The anxiety symptoms are more frequently related to the IBS symptoms and not necessarily considered to fall into the category of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
~ Those exposed to chronic or sustained stress, early life stress or adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are more vulnerable to the development of FGID’s such as IBS
~ The presence of at least one chronic life stressor at the onset of IBS is thought to impact the response to treatment and delay it by as much as 16 months.
~ Early recognition of stressful triggers may help to proactively institute therapeutic interventions and prevent the development of IBS and/or decrease the severity of symptoms.
Current research suggests that the treatment of IBS is multimodal and may involve dietary modifications, probiotics and herbal therapies, pharmacological interventions, psychotherapy and acupuncture.