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Digesting Emotions: What’s Gut Health Got to do with it?

According to ancient Taoist philosophy, we literally digest emotions. We have to process them. Starting in the mouth, we take in information from the outside world through taste and chewing. In the stomach and small intestines, we break stuff apart and sort through it to understand what’s there. Then, in both the small and large intestines, we differentiate what to assimilate and what to discard. We acknowledge this concept in our language: upsetting emotions can leave a bad taste our mouths or we simply can’t stomach something.

Scientific knowledge validates ancient wisdom. We are beginning to understand the profound role of gut neurotransmitters and gut flora in influencing emotions. The science on the gut-brain connection articulates how stress and emotions influence digestion, and how imbalances in the digestive tract can also impact mood. 

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Addressing Chronic Stress

Practices for Building Resilience

We are in the midst of a pandemic of stress. It’s not just Covid-19. It’s climate change, economic insecurity, and the continual erosion of the political landscape. And then it’s whatever we might have going on personally, with health or relationships, with our families and our jobs. There’s a lot to process.

Under stress, our brains are wired toward negativity. The limbic system, a primitive part of the brain, developed the negativity bias to keep us safe. It evolved to help us detect and escape danger. It helps us remember information and experiences that threaten our safety. It heightens stress responses and increases vigilance. Unfortunately, sometimes the limbic system can get stuck in the on-position, and it can be hard to regain a sense of safety and come out of hyper-vigilance.

Fire Protection Essentials and Respiratory Health, Part 2 — As the Dust Settles

As I wrote in my first blog on Fire Protection, the smoke that we’re experiencing in the Bay area is filled with the combusted contents of homes and businesses- things like plastic siding, wires and pipes, computers, flame retardants, carpeting with stain repellants like Teflon, lead paint from old houses, pressure treated lumber, and the list goes on. Even when the bulk of the particulate is from burning plant matter, there can be a substantial amount of mercury released into the environment from bioaccumulation. It’s easy to go into freak-out mode here.

I can also find the silver lining in the midst of the devastation, which is an opportunity to realign our priorities and get our houses in order on as many levels as we can.   This is an opportunity for a paradigm shift — to make the changes we’ve each been debating for years, whether it means changing an unhealthy lifestyle pattern, assessing our consumption patterns particularly around the use of toxic materials, and helping to address some of the social and economic issues that are now more acute in our county.

How we take care of ourselves and each other now is one of the most determining factors of our overall health in the future.

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