It’s hard to read anything about health these days without coming across the word microbiome. Faulty microbiome is now associated with autoimmune disease and slowly gaining ground as a major source of most chronic health problems. So what is it?
Microbiome is simply the community of bacteria living in your gut. The cells of the microbiome far outnumber the amount of cells in the rest of your body and yet we are just beginning to see the vast amount of influence they have on our overall health. The microbiome is essential for proper digestion, vitamin manufacturing and absorption, regulating blood sugar and metabolism. It plays a major role in brain chemistry.
So why do people seem to have such damaged microbiome? Well to start – overusing antibiotics weakens it, as do most prescription and over the counter drugs. Throw in fluoride and chlorine in water, pesticides, food additives, and our daily dose of antibiotic residue in meat. When you think about it, how does anyone not have a damaged microbiome?
One of the oldest schools of Chinese medicine, well over 1000 years ago, stated the key to good health starts with a healthy digestion. The ancient medical practitioners felt that if you had good digestion, disease would be short-lived and lessoned in severity. We find that to be true today in regards to a healthy microbiome.
Interestingly enough, everyone agrees that stress plays a huge role in compromising the microbiome. Chronic stress shuts off digestion and weakens the cell walls protecting us from undigested food. It’s bad enough that we start to lose our digestive energy around 40 years of age, but when we’re stressed it shuts down at least by half, limiting digestion and absorption of nutrients. This is the exact scenario under which people eat the vast majority of their meals.
Most people live in sympathetic dominance. By this, their body is reacting to most situations as a present danger. Being on alert, seeing life as a struggle for survival, wears us out and creates havoc with our microbiome. We’ve lost the ability to move in and out of stress, to get back to the recovery phase and back where we thrive – in a state of parasympathetic dominance.
Think of parasympathetic as relaxed, feeling present, paying attention, be aware of the now. It’s where you are when playing with the kids or making love. It’s also where you should be when you’re eating.
So how do we get to parasympathetic? Play, meditation, relaxation techniques, and reading a good book all help. Adaptogenic herbs are foods for your nervous system and a good formula allows you to flow into the recovery phase of a stress response, which is really just a return to parasympathetic dominance.
Parasympathetic dominance should be our natural state of being. It requires a coherent brain and nervous system, just the thing adaptogenic herbs bring about. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about immunity, brain chemistry or healthy microbiome, the first step is healing your nervous system response and adaptogenic herbs are perfect for allowing that to happen.