Author: Laura Shipp (see her intro at the end of the article)
Edited by: Ann Grandchamp, Mental Health Editor
Who knew that the mind-gut connection and body positivity were related? Get ready to delve into this fascinating topic with some easy steps you can take to improve your body positivity without being a UK size 8 (I’m not!). Thank you to our guest writer, Laura, who shares pretty complex knowledge in a very easy way.
When people hear I am a hypnotherapist and nutritional therapist they typically assume I specialise in weight loss. This is not my preferred area of focus and you will see no reference to weight loss on my website. This is because a significant number of my client base identify (identities are rarely helpful) with bulimia, anorexia and increasingly orthorexia (associated with “clean eating”).
Soon after qualifying I was asked whether I offered hypnotic gastric bands. Whilst some people can find them effective, in my opinion they don’t give people the tools for sustainable change. They are a passive intervention based on direct hypnosis (a hypnotherapist suggests to the subconscious that they have a gastric band fitted so feel fuller quicker). Instead, I empower my clients to develop a happy relationship with food. This includes understanding where their current possibly unhelpful relationship with food comes from. As well as learning which foods nourish the mind and body. People are becoming more aware of the mind-gut connection.
If we are eating a plentiful supply of mood boosting nutrients, we will naturally feel positive about our body. This is what mother nature intended for us.
From my late teens through to about five years ago (I am 41) my weight had a four-stone fluctuation. Maybe ironic for some I was always (yes, always) far happier when I was at the top end of that. This probably was because typically each period of weight loss was pre-empted by a break-up or during a time when I felt I needed to get some order in my life. So many of the weight loss plans didn’t (and to an extent still don’t) take into account mood boosting foods. Let’s face it drinking a meal replacement shake is never going to make us feel happy regardless of what the manufacturers lead us to believe. They also don’t take into account the mind-gut connection. The gut influences our mind just as much as our mind influences our gut. My clients are used to me saying how our second brain is in our gut when emotions pop up during testing the stomach meridian in kinesiology.
Have you ever wondered why we get an upset stomach during times of stress? This is an example of the link between our central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and our enteric nervous system (known as our second brain) via the vagus nerve.
The vagus nerve represents the main component of the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for a range of bodily functions including controlling our mood and digestion (rest and digest). Whereas the sympathetic nervous system is responsible for our fight or flight instinct. The enteric, parasympathetic and sympathetic systems together form our autonomic nervous system (what regulates involuntary physiological processes).
If we are sympathetic dominant (waiting to react) we will not fully rest our mind nor digest essential nutrients, such as, tryptophan. Tryptophan is an amino acid and the precursor for the happy hormone serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter which plays a significant role in emotions and happiness. A staggering 90% of serotonin is synthesised in the gut.
Being on constant alert doesn’t do much for our mood or body positivity. Nor does having compromised gut flora. Gut flora refers to the integrity of our microbiome and its composition of microbes. We have about ten times as many microbial cells as human cells. This inspired the name of Alanna Collen’s book 10% Human.
There is ongoing research which suggests those with disordered eating have compromised gut flora. Compromised gut flora is increasingly being linked to psychological conditions, such as, depression, as well as physiological conditions, such as autoimmune disorders. It is impossible to separate the mind, body and gut connection.
Dr Carl Pfeiffer conducted robust research in the last century on the role of micro minerals in schizophrenia, allergies and other diseases. His book Nutrition and Mental Illness provides an overview of his findings. There are also numerous studies that show the linkages between the copper coil and depression. Copper accumulates as a toxic metal and depletes zinc. Zinc activates over 200 different enzymatic processes and supports mental and emotional wellbeing. If we have too much copper in our diets including from copper water pipes it has the same impact.
Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride 17 years ago developed Gut & Psychology Syndrome (GAPS) and more recently extended to Gut & Physiology Syndrome. She speaks authoritatively about the vital connection between the health of a person’s gut and the health of their brain. She has a dedicated chapter on how a toxic gut can contribute to body dysmorphia and eating disorders.
So how do we nourish our mind and gut to boost body positivity? Include the following foods in our diet:
- Amino acids – good sources include eggs, meat, fish, soya, nuts and seeds.
- Iron – found in spinach and organ meats to name a few.
- Magnesium and calcium – found in wholegrains, leafy greens, nuts and seeds, seafood and cocoa (dark chocolate only).
- Omega-3 and 6 fatty acids – found in oily fish, flaxseed, hempseed, pumpkin seeds and leafy greens.
- Vitamin B (especially B3, B6 and B12) – good sources include liver, meat, turkey, wholegrains and bananas.
- Vitamin C – found in citrus fruits, peppers, kiwi and broccoli.
- Vitamin D – found in oily fish, egg yolks and mushrooms. Also, from the sun!
- Zinc – found in seafood, red meat, ginger, wholegrains and nuts.
We should also consume probiotics to secure gut integrity and remove harmful foods that compromise our gut lining. Eating for our own unique biochemical needs is essential as well as ensuring we have the right emotional support. For me this is the recipe for body positivity not wearing a UK size 8 dress!
Laura provides her clients with an integrative approach to health and wellbeing by combining hypnotherapy, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Integral Eye Movement Therapy (IEMT), Metaphysical Anatomy (MAT™), kinesiology and naturopathic nutrition.
She is a registered advanced hypnotherapist with the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council and a master NLP practitioner holding memberships with the British Institute of Hypnotherapy & NLP and the Association for NLP. She is a member of the Academy of Systematic Kinesiology and the Federation of Nutritional Therapy Practitioners.
Laura discovered kinesiology back in 2015 through working with a Naturopath because her health wasn’t where she wanted it to be. She was amazed with the results so set the target of training in kinesiology. Appreciating the vital role nutrition plays she went on to gain a qualification in naturopathic nutritional therapy. She is currently training to become a certified GAPS™ practitioner.
I look forward to sharing more with you on the subject of Body Positivity next month, with an interview with a mindset expert.
Surprise surprise….! In the meantime, take care! Stay safe!
Are you enjoying our content? We would love to hear your opinions in the comments sections. Stay tuned for our April posts, cuz spring is finally here. We will continue to talk about body positivity, health, happiness, ex-pat, and travel tips.
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