Ah, the month of December is upon us. The month that brings joy, happiness, love, laughter, togetherness, and gratefulness. Also fear, stress, chaos, sadness, loneliness, illness, anxiety, and depression. The one thing every human has in common when we enter December is a bag of mixed emotions stirring in our gut! Your gut talks to your brain, so when your emotions are positive that is your gut telling your brain to be happy, and when you are feeling down, your gut is telling your brain something is not right therefore creating those anxiety, depression, sadness, and even illness. Our gut is a vital part of the body, scientists, doctors, natural healers are all in agreement that what we put in our gut is what will control our moods. The only difference with these experts is each one studies different areas such as medications or natural remedies. But what if you could take this month to learn about the gut, and really focus on how you are treating your gut to find out that you can actually overcome the month of December with your health and happiness?

Follow along and learn all about the gut this month as we explore why we need to care about what we put into our body and how to handle stress during busy, chaotic December. Our gut is our gastrointestinal tract, or digestive tract. It is the function of balance and crucial to learn and become aware of the fact that what you put into your body can positively or negatively effect your gut and then leads to your brain! The two organs actually talk to one another, which is why you may feel sad or happy depending on how you are treating your gastrointestinal tract. To write it bluntly, it is the pathway from your mouth to your rear. It is full of microbiome, both good and bad. The more good we have, the better we feel as humans. Unfortunately, it’s really easy to kill off that “good bacteria” with medications, food, drinks, even our moods, creating a gut full of “bad bacteria.” When our gut microbiome is thrown off, that is when disease can enter into our lives. Disease such as depression, cancers, Crohns, Celiac, and more. According to the article, “Why the Gut may be the human’s first brain, it states humans have two brains: Sometimes nicknamed the “mini-brain,” your gut has its own nervous system made up of more than 100 million neurons working autonomously from the brain in your head to regulate the digestive system. But like the brain in your skull, the enteric system isn’t a one-trick pony: It regulates the immune system, blood flow, and secretes hormones. It’s also in constant communication with the central nervous system, helping to regulate your emotions and mood. But for all we’ve learned about the enteric nervous system, a dozen more questions remain unanswered. The enteric nervous system plays multiple roles but its main one involves moving food and other items in and out of the gut. The neurons cause muscles in the GI tract to contract and relax, allowing for digestion to take place. The study adds to the mountain of evidence for the gut’s starring role in your metabolism, brain function, and longevity. One recent study has even found that a diet feeding healthy gut bacteria could reduce multiple sclerosis symptoms. And for better or for worse, increasing evidence has demonstrated the gut’s influence on your personality — it all depends on the diversity of your microbiome.”

Let’s break this down for those of us learning about the concept of 2 brains in our body.

Example 1

Human being works at a high stress job

Doesn’t make time for food/liquid during the day

Drives home and stops off at a fast food restaurant, adds a soda to their meal

Comes in the door to sit down and eat while watching a show and falls asleep only to repeat the next day.

This person notices they are:

1: Tired

2: Irritable

3: Unmotivated

4: Sad

This is a common day for most humans, unfortunately around our world. This example is not here to make you feel worse about yourself, rather educate all of us to understand why we cannot pull ourselves out of sadness or depression. We also can learn to have empathy towards people we notice that are coming into work tired everyday, unmotivated or just seem cranky all the time. It’s really not their fault. Their gut is talking to their brain and trying to tell them, “hey, wake up, I need to be fed better foods/liquids in order to help you feel happy.

Example 2

Human being works at a high stress job

Takes time to pack a nutritious meal, drink tea and water during the day

Drives home to work out for 20 minutes, maybe going on a walk or lifting some weights

Has a home cooked dinner

Then off to bed at a decent time so they do not disturb their rem cycle

This person notices they are:

1: Ready to rise when the alarm goes off

2: Feels at peace getting ready for work

3: Has energy to deal with the stress of their career

4: Notices they smile or laugh more often than co-workers

This human is not happy everyday of their life, but this human is evolving and working on their gut. They are listening to their body and noticing what makes them feel “happier.” This human is understanding how they treat their gut will encourage their emotions positively aiding in a better day for them. This human also has a presence around them that attracts people to them. Other people notice their happiness, like this person, want to be their friend. The gut is telling their brain, “ok, we have had healing foods today so I can take that food and feel good, therefore, brain we are happy.”

You are understanding what we put in our body can positively or negatively effect our day. So, why are we talking about gut health the month of December. Because you can be very aware of your food/liquid intake, exercise and not realize when a past traumatic event will pop into your head. When the stresses of expenses hit you this month and your gut starts to “act up,” or when you are thinking of a loved one that is not here this month to celebrate in the joyous holiday. Maybe the first snow fall triggers a lost one, or the smell of Turkey cooking in the oven triggers a sad memory, or the amount you are spending on holiday shopping is creating stress, and even the pressure we put on ourselves to decorate, buy, cook, bake and hit every tradition social media throws in our face is making our gut turn in knots and the next thing you know, you are having IBS symptoms, or coming down with an illness such as the common cold. This month is hard on every single one of us. This month we are all reminded of the loved one that should be here, the expenses that take their toll, the pressure to have it all together, and that is EXACTLY why we want to help you focus on your gut this month so you CAN take control of your mental health.

Ways to keep a healthy microbiome in your gut:

1: Eat the rainbow of colors in fruits/veggies

2: Warm teas or honey and lemon water

3: Drinking at least 16 oz of fresh lemon water upon waking each day

4: Exercising 5 days a week and moving your body 7 days a week for at least 20-30 minutes a day

5: Rest and sleep

Ways to support those triggers during the month of December:

1: Set boundaries with family/friends (it’s ok to say no!)

2: Bring your own food to families houses that you can eat

3: Take your vitamins and minerals (if you are not getting adequate sunlight especially)

4: Set good sleep patterns

5: Talk to a therapist

6: Meditate

7: Exercise

8: Find that person/fur-ball in your life that makes you laugh and smile

9: Volunteer at a local shelter and get involved with your community/school/churches/animal shelter

As we enter the month of December, the month that brings a bag of mixed emotions for all of us, start this month by following us as we educate you on all the ways to support your gut. Be aware and notice your mood, if you are feeling down or unmotivated go take a walk, sit by the window where the sun is shining through for just 20 minutes and close your eyes. Meditate, cook a meal at home for 5 days out of the week, take time to pack nutritious lunches, drink more water, especially first thing in the morning. Listen to music that brings you joy, or a podcast (click on our podcast at Health Ignited) that will motivate you, read a joke and laugh before you leave the house or smile at a loved one and hug them to release that oxytocin. My favorite piece of advice, before you go to bed or when you wake in the morning: Thank your body for keeping you healthy. Tap your brain gently with your finger and say thank you brain for keeping me happy, tap your heart and thank your heart for working hard for you everyday, thank your liver for cleaning out all the unhealthy food, smells and liquids you take in each and everyday, and tap that gut and thank your gut for keeping you healthy this month. When we can recognize our health and we can say the words, I am healthy, I am happy, we are working towards a healthier gut biome and a happier brain! Let’s start this month with education and awareness on gut health so we are ready to tackle those triggers.