|“All disease begins in the gut”
As face masks become the new Spring/Summer trend on the street, and elbows get soggy from self-isolated sneezes rather than park festival plastic pint glass spillages, we are all now fully aware that a certain virus is spread through “liquid droplets” (snot, essentially) and brings dis-ease to the respiratory, rather than digestive system.
So perhaps the corona virus doesn’t literally begin in the gut but we can trust that Hippocrates was not wrong all those thousands of years ago, and that the gut has a great deal of influence on immunity. In fact, we now know that the gut microbiome contributes to more than 75% of the immune system and is therefore well worth taking care of during times of any pernicious threat – viral, or otherwise.
As people interested in gut health, I’m sure you are all aware of the microbiome and it’s cosmopolitan congregation of bacterial populations. As in any society, some of these gut dwelling guys can be trouble makers, especially if they gang together – think “mob mentality”. There needs to be enough good sorts and decent blokes to keep the intestines in order. In fact about 100 trillion of these lovely live microorganisms promote normal GI function, protect the body from infection, and regulate metabolism and the mucosal immune system.
People with inflammatory bowel disease are directly aware of how their immune system can over-react to an imbalance of bacteria, also known as dysbiosis. Yet, many other autoimmune diseases including Hashimotos, MS, ME, rheumatoid arthritis etc, have been partially attributed to an impermeable gut membrane – aka leaky gut – leading to toxicity in the body and subsequent dis-ease. Due to the symptoms predominantly manifesting elsewhere in the body, modern medicine has only recently made the link to the gut, yet throughout history, positive results have come from treating many diseases through diet and lifestyle changes that improve gut health.
Whether it results in an over or under active immune system, an unbalanced microbiome can cause serious mischief. It is not always easy to get thousands, millions, billions, let alone trillions of, well anything, to behave the way you want them to, but there are many things to try that could really help keep your gut gatherings in check.
Think more: fields of friends from different families and ethnic backgrounds dancing in collective effervescence, and less: race riots and recession looting. Even in the idyllic festival scenario, there’s always going to be someone heartbrokenly crying into a port-a-loo as a song reminds them of their ex. You can’t please everyone but overall it is a preferable situation.
Furthermore, like the beautifully diverse cross-cultural community of a healthy gut microbiome, the immune system is dynamic and totally capable of change and adaptation, unlike our DNA which can make us susceptible to certain health conditions. By working with all our little international intestinal mates we can make positive changes – empowering! Although a healthy diet is the first thing to ensure, this means that gut healing practices go beyond what you eat, as some of you with long term digestive disorders may have noticed. There are manifold factors that contribute: stress reduction, good quality sleep, an appropriate amount of exercise, a positive attitude (seriously! It’s all chemical reactions eh?)…the list goes on!
But gosh, talking about international interactions, we’re witnessing all sorts – good as well as bad – during the current Covid-19 pandemic pandemonium. The devastation left in the wake of this invisible villain has summoned, not only the survival instincts of the human species, but also a vast array of endless loving support from one human to the next across the globally spreading tendrils of the internet.
Nevertheless, the online lifestyle is a cacophonous melting pot of mayhem in itself. I don’t know about you, but navigating your way through the (well-intended I’m sure) crap load of kindness to get to some useful information can be a bit like over-eating all that spirulina again – too much of a good thing!
So I’ve pulled together some of my personal recommendations the go beyond the recipe books and hopefully the following will inspire some like-minded souls to boost their immune system from a guts roots level as well as keep out of trouble indoors.
My STAY HOME Offerings
Not only does yoga physiologically enhance your digestion, the healing of the gut-brain axis and general mind-body connection does wonders for keeping stress hormones in the right balance – yes balance is key again! Stress and anxiety reduction alone is beneficial for the immune system. When the body is in a state of stress, there is no energy for the immune or digestive systems to function with. So no more worrying about the global pandemic – it is truly counter-productive!
Yoga for Gut Health & Healing with me
Despite having to retract the studio workshops for the meanwhile, the Yoga for Gut Health 4-part programme is still available in the following guises:
- The Sunflower Centre in Brockley was to hold the 4-week course Saturday mornings 11:15am-12:45 pm on April 18th, 25th, and May 2nd, 9th. I am preparing to teach the workshops LIVE online instead at the same times for those interested. Get in touch!
- The 4- part video course is still available here. Use the code BELLYBUDDY for a subscriber exclusive 10% off! You’re welcome 😉
- I am now offering my full 1-1 guided support to those who may need it through their gut healing journey. Details on packages can be found here. You can book a free 15 minute call with me by replying to this email.
- From tomorrow (Monday), there will be a LIVE streamed class every week. To join simply sign up and subscribe here! I recommend completing the 4-part course beforehand as we will build on what we have already learnt about yoga, the gut and ourselves. The first session will focus on lung health, self massage, posture and eye yoga – and yes, they all relate to gut health! Tune in and find out how.
- If you haven’t tried the Y4GH&H programme yet and are unsure whether to commit to it or not, you can sample the first session on moviing.co and use the code: FLOWRIDER25. It’s a great platform with myriad yoga teachers and styles to sample for a monthly subscription.
- To focus your yoga directly on your lung health try these exercises on myYoutube channel. Of course, looking after your lungs will most certainly have a positive effect on your gut health too! All these systems interconnect through your yoga practice, so try out the other free pranayama demos while you’re there.
Recommendations from other realms
Ayurveda and Aromatherapy
The chakra balancing oils I use in the my studio workshops are by the beautiful Marta of Floating Feather Holistic. There is a vast range of healthful products here, and she has also written an excellent blog on using Ayurveda and aromatherapy to protect yourself specifically from the Corona Virus. Check it out.
I have just finished reading The Genki Self Health Guide by John Dixon, and couldn’t recommend it enough! If you’re interested in “Oriental” medicine, but don’t know where to start, then this is for you! It is informative yet accessible and a joy to dip into. In fact, I think every home should own one. John has a lot of guidance and information on his website too which is well worth checking out. I believe there is some very well put together demonstrations of simple massage techniques. Perfect for many nights (and days) in with your loved ones!
Functional Health for IBD & beyond
I also highly recommend Seb Tucknott’s new book, “Tipping the Balance”. He takes us through his experience of achieving full remission from Ulcerative Colitis using sound scientific advice and first hand knowledge on how to get, and stay, as healthy as possible. Yes, balance is the key again!
I’ve been really enjoying becoming part of Benedict Beaumont’s Breathing Space online community. What better time to tap into the power of your own lung capacity than now. Join in on Thursday nights, it’s free! We all sit around breathing together on Zoom – and this was set up way before the quarantine situation! He also offers many further courses. There’s some great free sessions on lung health right now and some more advanced learning available too.
Thai massage/Pilates online
I had an incredible Thai massage with Monica Giocomin. Unfortunately I cannot recommend her massages at this time but she has started online self massage/movement/pilates classes which are really very good. You can find herhere and sign up. There are many platforms and studios doing their online thing now, but I do feel it is important to support to independent tutor too where possible. She’s better than most anyway!
Wim Hof method
International treasure and health maverick Wim Hoff, has clinically proven that his immune boosting technique of cold showers and intense pranayama can fight off disease. Trust me, it doesn’t take that long to feel convinced! As of TODAY summer is “officially” here now so it’s time to give it a try! Not only does it jump start your immune system, it gives you a total mood boost!
Higher Self Portrait
One more thing from me that I have more time to pursue right now, is my very special portrait service. I love to transform my subject into a divine semblance of themselves. Check out the details and some examples here. Get yourself or a loved one on the list!