A lot of times, even in the wellness community, we keep a mindset of allopathic solutions. We get sold on products that have grand claims of reversing and reducing conditions and symptoms. In the same way that pharmaceutical companies sell their drugs, wellness practitioners sell our patients on an idea: you need this to get better, and you need it from me. That is because there are no profits to be had from telling you that you have a unique ability to heal yourself.
I had this revelation during my first quarter of chiropractic college while I was looking at a sagittal cut of the human brain and spinal cord. I was listening to my professor talk about the cerebellum, and how it’s surface area is so high despite being the size of a lemon. I looked at it and realized it looked like a tree, and it also looked exactly like the way mycelium grows before it turns into mushrooms.
A lot of the human body looks like things found in nature because everything in this universe is interconnected. Our bodies are a fractal of that connection—a similar interconnectedness, but at a smaller scale.
But of course, that brings up a few questions. If we are so intelligently designed, why is there so much chronic illness, allergies, and unexplained symptom-based diagnoses? What is happening to our environment that is causing all of this? Why is the medical community not addressing the cause of these illnesses, and instead just profiting off treating the symptoms? The answer to all those questions is actually quite complicated because it takes a leap of faith to start believing in your body again.
Our bodies have everything they need to adapt and reach their optimum performance without outside intervention, but, at the same time everything that happens in your life can have a cumulative effect on your body. It can be hard to avoid chronic stress because it is ingrained in our society, and the western diet can be contrary to what our bodies actually need. However, when in doubt, removing and addressing the cause is a lot better than managing the symptoms. This view is not popular to most because it requires significant lifestyle changes in order to reach your body’s true potential. I absolutely understand that some situations we do not have power over, but no matter what happened to you in your past, you have the power to rise above and evolve.
If you’re looking for a quick fix to any of your health problems like a liver cleanse, that’s not my thing. If you’re looking for tools to help change the way your brain is operating that cause you to do things to your body that make you think you need a liver cleanse, I got you.
I know how to access a lot of the keys that people use to change their lives—but I can’t open the door for you, only you can do that. Here are three suggestions you can incorporate to get your body to work as one harmonious system.
1. Remove toxins in your environment.
Being able to change the direction of your health should start with removing the things that are currently taking a toll on your ability to heal. Your body has systems in place to filter out toxins, but they get overtaxed when inundated over long periods of time. Focusing on the 3 most essential things that we need to survive (air, food and water) is a great place to start.
When it comes to air, giving your lungs the ability to function and filter properly is important. During stressful situations, we often hold our breath or breathe very shallowly.
If you are feeling overwhelmed, focus on breathing deep into your stomach. There are a lot of breathing exercises available via health apps and YouTube, all of which are helpful. Doing breathing exercises before you eat is also a good idea because it activates your nervous system in a way that allows you to digest more effectively.
Additionally, reducing or eliminating any breathing in of burned materials is important. While at home, keeping windows open and getting fresh air flow is important for managing C02 levels. Keeping the kitchen fan on when cooking reduces airborne contamination. For chronic disease, a high flow air filter that removes mycotoxins may be necessary.
An unfortunate fact for those looking to support their evolution through food is that the food industry is not growing food to heal you, its growing food that grows bigger and lasts longer.
Trying to mitigate the hunger epidemic and healing your body through food are two separate issues. The more processed your food is, the harder it is for you body to recognize and absorb it. Try focusing on foods that can be found in nature.
A few easy changes can make a big difference. If you eat meat, choosing grass fed beef will help your omega 3 levels which support your brain and reduce inflammation. Choosing wild fish over conventional fish has similar effects.
The most important thing about your food intake, however, is noticing how certain foods make you feel. Paying attention to the way your body feels after a meal is much more important than following a restricted diet.
Water is essential for life, but did you know what’s in the water you drink? Ewg.org is a great place to start.
Usually a simple charcoal filter is not good enough to filter the toxins that are in the water that you drink. A lot of water treatment in this country doesn’t filter out the pharmaceutical remnants. Getting a water filter like reverse osmosis can help completely filter your water, preventing the possibility of unknowing drinking trace amounts of SSRI’s, Benzodiazepines, and anticonvulsants. Getting a shower water filter can prevent some water chemicals from getting into your lungs.
2. Focus on the gut-brain connection.
Whenever you get a stomachache, your brain tends to feel the same way. That’s because there is a massive connection between your gut bacteria, hormone production, and neurological balance.
The overuse of antibiotics and environmental toxins has led to a massive surge in food allergies and sensitivities that lead to neurochemical imbalances in the brain. The combination of vagus nerve activation and increasing your supply of beneficial gut bacteria has shown to disrupt the HPA axis, which is responsible for pain and stress. For many people, the key to being their happiest, most fulfilled self is in their gut.
Gut dysbiosis can lead to a reduction of some key neurochemicals and neurotransmitters.
Over 90% of your body’s serotonin (the happy hormone) is produced in your gut.
People with gut dysbiosis have reduced levels of NAC and GABA, chemicals directly related to mood and anxiety regulation. The scientific community has barely scratched the surface of the important role our microbiome plays in our mental health, but we know it is huge.
Probiotics are helpful, but it can be hard to know which ones to take without the help of a practitioner. A more general recommendation that I like to make is eating more fermented foods, which can often be more bioavailable than probiotics. There are specific diets that are designed to increase colonies of beneficial bacteria in your body, however, I still believe conscious eating is more important.
The role of the vagus nerve is something we can’t ignore in any discussion about the gut-brain connection. The vagus nerve is the most important nerve for managing the brakes, when oftentimes life pushes on the gas.
Long term stress leads to increased cortisol, which over long periods of time, causes a cascade of issues including reduced immunity leading to disease. Prolonged stress changes the way the brain communicates with the external environment, which leads to an over reaction from our system in response to harmless invaders. Vagal nerve stimulation has shown to reduce depression, seizures, and increase parasympathetic tone and digestion.
There are natural ways to activate your vagus nerve like deep breathing with longer exhales than inhales, gargling, deep humming, and cold exposure. The vagus nerve also travels to the ear, so cranio electro stimulation or auriculotherapy may help too.
3. Train your brain.
95% of our brain activity is unconscious, so we don’t have the ability to recognize when things go wrong. When they do go wrong, it tends to affect everything. Your brain has a leader role in your body, but the relationship with your brain and every other cell in your body is synergistic.
The great thing about working on the brain is that when you work on the thing that controls everything, there is a trickle down effect in the body. There’s different ways to work on your brain, and different practitioners take different approaches. One of the more appealing and promising to me is focusing on brain waves, and finding ways to change them.
Our brains can easily get stuck in a point of time. I think we’ve all met someone who’s still living in the past, unable to move forward, or someone not in the present, worried about the future. These are manifestations of neurological imbalances. The emotions behind the past or future are so strong, that the brain forgets to live in the present.
We talk about raising vibrations, but the truth is, our brains are more in tune with the world when they are going slow and steady. People with anxiety, depression, addiction, and PTSD have higher frequency brain waves like beta and gamma. A study of Buddhist monks’ brain waves showed high levels of Alpha and Theta waves which are lower wave frequencies.
There’s a lot of ways to impact brain waves, one of the easiest is by using products that emit the desired frequency, leading to the brain mimicking that frequency. Products like audio visual entrainment, cranio electro stimulation, and binaural beats are a few ways to impact the brain, though they can be quite costly.
YouTube actually has a lot of alpha brain wave training for free. Your brain can actually effectively mimic the brainwaves of Buddhist monks. Going deeper into neurological therapies that actually train your brain to recognize and change permanently evolve neurofeedback, electro convulsive therapy, and transcranial magnetic stimulation.
It can often feel like the construct of this world is against you becoming healthy, and raising yourself to the level that you want to be.
While many of these suggestions are things you can work on your own, that doesn’t stop them from being overwhelming to wrap your head around. Becoming aware of how you treat your body is the first step to growth. We can’t rely on anyone but ourselves for self care, and that self care should take a whole body approach. If this is your first step in your journey, I’m more than honored to have helped you become aware of what you need to grow and heal.
Jake Hart is a chiropractor in San Francisco, California focused on changing the way our bodies adapt to their environment. You can learn more about his practice on his website and support him on Instagram too!