Probiotics are often advertised on television and are a very popular dietary supplement. Eat yogurt with active cultures or drink kefir and you’ll receive some probiotic support; take a probiotic supplement and get even more. On November 18, 2013, NPR (National Public Radio) published an interesting article, “Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds.” According to the article, Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles, “believes that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains.” Researcher Stephen Collins of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said “the mice became less anxious, more gregarious,” after conducting an experiment that involved replacing the gut bacteria of anxious mice with bacteria from fearless mice. How do the microbes talk to the brain? Scientist John Cryan of the University College Cork in Ireland offers that “the vagus nerve runs from the brain to the abdomen.” Others speculate that the gut microbes communicate with the brain by affecting the immune system or by producing their own neurotransmitters. Ongoing research is trying to scientifically explain this mechanism, but there seems little question among researchers that such an interconnection exists.
While these Western scientists delve into what for them is a new body/mind connection, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine have held for centuries that the brain and abdomen are interconnected – they have long posited that what we ingest for our abdomen fuels both our emotional state and the mental vitality in our brain.
Eating good food will promote healthy gut microbes and improve our mood in a positive way and keep our mind clear. A strong and healthy body leads to a strong and healthy mind.
Inquiring about the food habits and digestive quality of someone during a Chinese or Ayurvedic treatment is typical, because the information is so valuable. Food is your fuel and how you ingest, metabolize and absorb the nutrition it provides is important to your overall well-being. Do you feel energized after eating or is your head foggy? Do you feel bloated or sore in your body after eating?
Pay attention to how you feel after ingesting certain foods – physically, emotionally and mentally. Keep track of your awareness in the Chapter 4 Food Diary of Vitality Fusion. Let your brain and belly work together in harmony and feel the exuberance and brilliance they engender throughout your being.
About the Author: Susan Shane, L.Ac., is creator of Exaircise, a cross-cultural fitness program based on the primacy of breathing in global health traditions. Her book, Vitality Fusion, a Comparative, Interactive Survey of Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine, illuminates ancient and modern modalities to help readers create a customized path to optimal health. For more information, visit www.VitalityFusion.com.