Best Holistic Life Magazine Fall 2021

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B Y D R . V I N C E N T P E D R E

As “America’s Gut Doctor,” I preach that the gut is the foundation of our total well-being. There’s a growing body of evidence showing the health and diversity of our gut microbiome can influence what diseases we develop, or don’t; and there’s plenty of science proving the gut is a key factor in our immunity, metabolism, and our mental health. But the gut is also connected to our well-being inways that are harder to explain — ones that can’t be studied in a petri dish or examined through a double-blind, randomized controlled trial. Yes, the gut is the foundation of our physical health, but that also includes our overall energy and vibration. Think about it: When something goes awry with your gut health, you immediately feel depleted, fatigued, and generally vibrate at a lower frequency. As someone who struggled with gut health issues for years, I under- stand this firsthand. When your gut is out of whack, you can’t shine the best version of yourself to the world. And when you think about it, this makes sense. The gut is our biggest contact surface with the outside world; like the roots of a tree, our gut is the way we obtain the nutrients that sustain us. But not all the nutrients we take in are physical substances; some are energetic. One way of approaching the more mysterious side of the gut-en- ergy connection is through our understanding of the seven chakras. If you’re never heard of the seven chakras, they are focal points of energy that are located throughout the body and correspond to differ- ent nerve bundles and organs. As part of the Hindu tradition andmany ancient meditations and yogic practices, each chakra corresponds with a different type of energy, and blockages in any one chakra can contribute to specific health conditions. When it comes to gut health issues, we turn our attention to the three lower chakras— the solar plexus chakra (located in the middle of the abdomen), the sacral chakra (found in the lower abdomen), and the root chakra (located at the base of the spine). These three chakras are largely in control of our energy, vibration, and connection to this physical plane— the earth—and they just so happen to correspond to the functioning of the gut. I know… a doctor talking about energy, vibration, and chakras? Sounds “woo-woo”! And as a physician, I get it! I was many years into my gut-healing journey before I considered the idea that there was an energetic component to physical health. In fact, I stumbled upon the idea when I went to see an energy healer out of pure curi- osity. At that point, I had done everything I could think of as a physi- cian to heal my digestive issues — I was taking the best probiotics,

filling my kitchen with organic and fermented foods, and avoid- ing common gut irritants, but my gut health still wasn't completely optimal. After my first energy healing session, I knew I had finally found the last piece of the puzzle—and it had everything to do with connecting with and rebalancing my lower chakras. What I’ve learned since that first session is that the gut is not only sensitive to physical factors like pesticides, processed foods, medi- cations, and chemicals from our environment, it’s also extremely sensitive to energy and emotion. We are spiritual beings having a physical experience on this planet, and the three lower energy centers are all about being connected to the physical world and our purpose here. Therefore, if something doesn’t feel right in our lives ener- getically, it often shows up in the gut. Your gut can feel those ener- getic imbalances. In recent years, I’ve learned that there’s a more physical, concrete explanation for the gut-energy connection. It’s called the vagus nerve. The longest nerve in the body, the vagus nerve runs from the base of the brain to most major organs. In the last few years, researchers have identified this nerve as the key regulator of the gut-brain axis and our “rest and digest” system. The vagus nerve modulates a wide range of functions, includingmood, heart rate, digestive enzyme and stomach acid secretion, immunity, and the stress response. Research shows the better your vagus nerve is functioning, the more influence you have over this energetic aspect of gut health. Evenmore interesting, one of the best ways to strengthen the vagus nerve is THROUGH sound and vibration since the nerve runs by your vocal cords. So, I’ll leave you with Five Tips to Harness the Power of Vagal Acti- vation to Heal Your Gut: 1. Deep belly breathing, such as the 4-7-8 breath (Inhale 4 sec, Hold breath 7 sec, Exhale 8 sec)

2. Chanting, such as the “Ohm” in a yoga class 3. Laughter (The harder you laugh, the better!) 4. Gargling with water for 60 seconds 5. Humming or singing to your favorite song

When we approach healing, it’s important to allow science to be the main driver of our decisions. And as “America’s Gut Doctor,” I believe more than anyone that food and lifestyle changes are the keys to great health. That said, we cannot forget we are spiritual beings—and the vagus nerve’s power to heal the gut and its influence over our vibra- tions is the perfect example of that intersection of science, ancient wisdom and energy medicine.

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