Digestion is arguably one of the most important functions in our human systems. Without it, we are without energy or nutrients to function the rest of the body. Interestingly, digestive disturbances are one of the top reasons why people schedule clinic office visits, from constipation to food allergies to diabetes and other metabolic conditions.
Yet, knowing how absolutely necessary proper digestion is, very little effort and attention is put forth at the very important times of day when this fueling the body happens. Rarely do we even think about what is happening at meal times. In fact, we use those times to multi-task, create working lunch times, plan meetings, tend to agendas and tasks, if we stop to eat at all. This leads to mindless eating, and a state in which we are stuck in the "fight of flight" state of the Sympathetic Nervous System. This state puts all its attention on preparing your body for activity, for quick action, and for emergency. It does not think about processes of digestion. It's too busy thinking about your survival. It quickens the heart rate, pumps more blood, increases expansion in lungs and push of oxygen into the bloodstream. It directs blood flow to the extremities (not digestive areas like the stomach and intestines) so you can run and get away or fight if needed. It DOES NOT ignite the actions to activate the digestive system. This is great when you're running from a tiger, the fight or flight can respond, and then calm back down. However, for too many of us the stressors in our lives create the belief in the body that this response needs to stick around, as if you're continuously running from a tiger.
This is bad news for the digestive system, which needs to be firmly operating from the Parasympathetic branch to function. The "rest and digest" phase only comes in Parasympathetic dominance. We must move the body into the Parasympathetic phase before eating and then stay there, being mindful during our meal so that the body is focused on the job at hand. When we do so, we can assimilate our nutrients better, produce balanced acidity to break foods down, energize the body, and not cause stress and inflammation in the gut. In short, everything works better. Taking time to prepare the body for food and digestion goes a long way towards your experience of health.
There is a uniquely designed part of your inherent functioning that is the “master communicator” between these two nervous systems, the brain, and the body. This communication pathway brings news from the body to the brain, and brings the response from the brain to the body. It dictates the level of capability in every system from immune, digestive, hormonal, metabolic, and eliminative. Because of its responses in the body and communication between the body and brain, it determines your level of happiness, wellness, and feelings of wellbeing that come with a body that just functions well. Elation and joy are a natural result, so this structure is also quite decisive towards any experience of depression and/or anxiety and has an equal role in healing.
It’s called the Vagus Nerve, and it runs from the center of the brain by your ears all the way through the body to the gut. Because of its ability to communicate to and from the body and the brain, it truly is your “mind body connection” and oh so important to our physical, mental and emotional wellness.
The Vagus Nerve is responsible for stimulating stomach acid and digestive juices, helping with ease of digestion. It helps to absorb B12 and gut reflexes. Reflux issues are dealt with by the Vagus Nerve as well because of its ability to control the esophagus. It helps control heart rate and blood pressure. It is the nerve that controls blood glucose, preventing diabetes. It is the nerve that passes through the gallbladder, helping to release bile, eliminate toxins and break down fats, keeping the liver healthy. It promotes kidney function and blood flow and as it passes through the spleen it reduces inflammation and aids the immune response. It even has controls in fertility and orgasms for women. A dysfunctional Vagus Nerve can wreak havoc on both mind and body.
Interestingly, the Vagus Nerve is vibratory and electrical. It sends chemical signals to neurons using chemical messengers, so it has a big part in our hormonal outcomes as well. Because of this vibratory electrical nature, sound is an important part of ensuring the VN has regular stimulation.
In fact, a French Otolaryngologist named Alfred A. Tomatis believes that "the primary function of the ear is to provide all the cells of the body with electrical stimulation”. Imagine that, that the ears possibly weren’t created simply so we could HEAR for pleasure, and to help us communicate, listen, and navigate life, but that they were possibly designed as tympanic TOOLS in order that sound would resonate within us, vibrating the core and central nerves to keep every other system in function.
Sound has long been documented and researched with numerous studies on toning, harmony, sound, and frequency. Interestingly, a body out of function is truly “out of harmony”. Consider the actions and functions to be a complete symphony, and the part each organ plays must be harmonious to all.
Resonant Frequency has been gaining traction when it comes to aiding in vibrating the body back to health. There are many documented ways to increase health through the Vagus Nerve using sound, particulalry singing, chanting, laughter, yoga, and meditation. All of these stimulate muscles that activate the nerve. This is one reason why meditating and chanting “Om” is a popular and useful method, or that listening to resonating frequencies are known to stimulate parts of the brain.
It is believed that high tones are considered “charging sound” (bringing energy) and low tones are considered “discharging sounds” (dissipating energy).
When I meditate and hum “Om” (the universal sound), I tone what I call a “Hi-Lo Meditation”. This allows me to start my day by discharging energies and harmonizing with useful energy, and activate the Vagus Nerve, preparing my body for the tasks to come.
Sitting in a chair with feet on the ground and arms relaxed at your sides, shoulders dropped and relaxed, I inhale pulling air into my belly, making sure only my belly rises, not my shoulders or chest. I slowly pull in to the belly until there is a natural pause to stop. On the exhale I hum a high tone, watching the belly fall and try to keep the strength of the tone strong all through the last of my available breath. In doing this, my belly muscles are pulling in tightly towards the end of the exhale. I release and expand my belly again on the next inhale, and then exhale using a low tone. You can try it here by following along with this 5 minute Hi-Low Toning.
Try this method before eating and watch how relaxed your body becomes. This is known to help assist the body in the digestive process.
In addition to using the ears to pick up sounds, tone, and frequency, It is very important to be mindful during meals instead of "multi-tasking" , taking time to chew, identifying tastes that will give the Vagus Nerve messages to send to the other parts of the digestive system.
Pay attention to your environment, and the sounds around you, and whether they make you feel "charged" or "discharged" and relaxed. See what tones, sounds, rhythms are identified by your body as feeling good and which cause it stress. Most importantly, use the tympanic tool of the ears to be aware and allow the vibrations of all the sounds around you to vibrate the Vagus Nerve and watch your health improve.
Back to DrFoodie.live
Want to learn more about taking charge of your health and learn Food Functions, too? Join the list and get 4 FREE resources to help you! This link will get you to free tips, free tools like our Food FX chart and tally chart. https://mailchi.mp/drfoodie.live/students-of-drfoodie-subscriptions
Amanda Plevell, PhD, CNHP is a Natural Medicine Practitioner, researching Cellular Biochemistry, and the effects that food, disease, experiences, emotions, and beliefs play into the programming of the cells, along with the resulting health expression. She is the founder of the Natural Source Companies including community WellClinics, and the Institute for Functional Digestive Health. Author of over 28 natural health and self development books, her bestselling books include such titles as "The Genesis Code", "UnBound: Kicking Anxiety From Your Bucket List", "The Energy of Divorce", "The Real Heal", "Clean Your Plate", and "Beyond the Plate". When she's not serving at her Minnesota-based practice, she spends her time homeschooling her children along with her husband, growing her food forest.
**Not a medical doctor. For entertainment and educational purposes only, not as a substitute for diagnosis, treatment, or cure or proper medical attention. read our full common sense Disclaimer here.