Probiotic and Gut Brain connection

Gut and brain connection is not new to us, but to what extent and how it affects all aspects of our wellbeing or illness that we succumb to is being explored constantly in science.

Gut brain connection is not only the connection of Vagus nerve to the brain, but the bacteria that live in gut, and how its various metabolic products affect brain is another powerful connection.

We note that depression is related to inflammation and genesis of inflammation, for the most part is in gut. The article mentions that we are not at this stage where we can treat depression with probiotics alone. I agree.
That is even more the reason to care for our microbiome in our GI tract. Our lifestyle choices, the food we eat, stress we carry, sedentary or active life we live, relations and community we keep, and allow are body and mind to rest does affect our microbiome. That in turn affects genesis of inflammation through our gut.
This article in Men’s health magazine caught my eyes.

Probiotic and gut brain connection-

Lessening the Power of Negative Emotion

The mind, body, and spirit are intimately connected with our physiology (body’s working). Our mental, spiritual and emotional well-being affects our neuro-hormonal system immensely. I have many times advised my patients to incorporate “medical journaling” for health and vitality..
I came across this writing from “The Dalai Lama”</Font color> and would like to share with you.

I profoundly believe that real spiritual change comes about not by merely praying or wishing that all negative aspects of our minds disappear and all positive aspects blossom. It is only by our concerted effort, an effort based on an understanding of how the mind and its various emotional and psychological states interact, that we bring about true spiritual progress. If we wish to lessen the power of negative emotions, we must search for the causes that give rise to them. We must work at removing or uprooting those causes. At the same time, we must enhance the mental forces that counter them: what we might call their antidotes. This is how a meditator must gradually bring about the mental transformation he or she seeks.

How do we undertake this? First we identify our particular virtue’s opposing factors. The opposing factor of humility would be pride or vanity. The opposing factor of generosity would be stinginess. After identifying these factors, we must endeavor to weaken and undermine them. While we are focused on these opposing factors, we must also be fanning the flames of the virtuous quality we hope to internalize. When we feel most stingy, we must make an extra effort to be generous. When we feel impatient or judgmental, we must do our utmost to be patient.

When we recognize how our thoughts have particular effects upon our psychological states, we can prepare ourselves for them. We will then know that when one state of mind arises, we must counter it in a particular way; and if another occurs, we must act appropriately. When we see our mind drifting toward angry thoughts of someone we dislike, we must catch ourselves; we must change our mind by changing the subject. It is difficult to hold back from anger when provoked unless we have trained our mind to first recollect the unpleasant effects such thoughts will cause us. It is therefore essential that we begin our training in patience calmly, not while experiencing anger. We must recall in detail how, when angry, we lose our peace of mind, how we are unable to concentrate on our work, and how unpleasant we become to those around us. It is by thinking long and hard in this manner that we eventually become able to refrain from anger.

One renowned Tibetan hermit limited his practice to watching his mind. He drew a black mark on the wall of his room whenever he had an unvirtuous thought. Initially his walls were all black; however, as he became more mindful, his thoughts became more virtuous and white marks began to replace the black ones. We must apply similar mindfulness in our daily lives.

You can also draw upon one or more during the activity if your attention is flagging. They are listed in an order that makes sense to me, but you can vary the sequence.

1. Set the intention to sustain your attention, to be mindful. You can do this both top-down, by giving yourself a gentle instruction to be attentive, and bottom-up, by opening to the sense in your body of what mindfulness feels like.

2. Relax. For example, take several exhalations that are twice as long as your inhalations. This stimulates the calming, centering parasympathetic nervous system and settles down the fight-or-flight stress-response sympathetic nervous system that jiggles the spotlight of attention this way and that, looking for carrots and sticks.

3· Without straining at it, think of things that help you feel cared about-that you matter to someone, belong in a relationship or group, are seen and appreciated, or are even cherished and loved. It’s OK if the relationship isn’t perfect, or that you bring to mind
people from the past, or pets, or spiritual beings. You could also get a sense of your own goodwill for others, your own compassion, kindness, and love. Warming up the heart in this way helps you feel protected, and it brings a rewarding juiciness to the moment-which support #4 and #5 below.

4· Think of things that help you feel safer, and thus more able to rest attention on your activities, rather than vigilantly scanning. Notice that you are likely in a relatively safe setting, with resources inside you to cope with whatever life brings. Let go of any unreasonable anxiety, any unnecessary guarding or bracing.

5· Gently encourage some positive feelings, even mild or subtle ones. For example, think of something you feel glad about or grateful for; go-to’s for me include my kids, Yosemite, and just being alive. Open as you can to an underlying sense of well-being that may nonetheless contain some struggles or pain. The sense of pleasure or reward in positive emotions increases the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which closes a kind of gate in the neural substrates of working memory, thus keeping out any ”barbarians,” any invasive distractions.

6. Get a sense of the body as a whole, its many sensations appearing together each moment in the boundless space of awareness. This sense of things as a unified gestalt, perceived within a large and panoramic perspective, activates networks on the sides of the brain (especially the right-for right-handed people) that support sustained mindfulness. And it de-activates the networks along the midline of the brain that we use when we’re lost in thought.

7. Stay with whatever positive experiences you’re having or lessons you’re learning, for 10-20-30 seconds in a row. Since “neurons that fire together, wire together,” this savoring and registering helps weave the fruits of your attentive efforts into the fabric of your brain and yourself.

Gratitude and Science

Gratitude and Science

Our emotions are powerful enough to cause real change in our body’s physiology. It is not the thoughts but the reaction to the thoughts -those emotions that arise from the thoughts -that affects us and people around us. Emotions affect our neuro endocrine (brain and hormonal systems) system that in turn affects our physical, psychological, and social being. When brain, heart, and neuro endocrine system are in coherence, this actually enhances the body’s ability to clarify our thoughts and affect our emotion. Practice of gratitude allows us to put neuro endocrine and heart system in coherence.

Gratitude is affirmation of goodness in life. It does not mean life is perfect and without burdens. Gratitude also means to find out where the goodness is coming from and who one can be thankful to for that.
Robert A Emmons PhD, Professor of Psychology at UC Davis says, gratitude has power to heal, energize and change lives. It can heal from past hurts; gives hope and inspiration for future. It helps in turning mind from a focusing on what is lacking to what we have.

When he studied 1000 people, who practiced gratitude daily for 3 weeks they reported great deal of benefits.

Physical
• Stronger immune systems
• Less bothered by aches and pains
• Lower blood pressure
• Exercise more and take better care of their health
• Sleep longer and feel more refreshed upon waking

Psychological
• Higher levels of positive emotions
• More alert, alive, and awake
• More joy and pleasure
• More optimism and happiness

Social
• More helpful, generous, and compassionate
• More forgiving
• More outgoing
• Feel less lonely and isolated.

Short form of thanks is good gesture, but looking at life situation rom gratefulness and with gratitude is very powerful. One should put gratitude on line of continuum
From habit of saying thank you to deeper orientation of genuine feeling of gratitude towards life.

Regular practice of gratitude enhances power of looking at goodness in all situations.
–It makes one more stress resilient.
–It strengthens social ties and self-worth. One realizes past and present network of relations that have played a part in getting one where they are. One may have taken them for granted but not anymore.
–It makes to look at life as a satisfied person and not deprived
–It allows one to have appreciation and celebration of present.
–Blocks toxic emotions like envy, resentment, depression. Toxic emotions can destroy opportunity for happiness, calm peaceful life, and optimal functioning.

Gratitude is not another form of positive thinking. In gratitude one actually recognizes one’s dependence on others. To practice gratitude one has to be a good receive (of other people’s good actions) . Gratitude comes with obligation and responsibility

Gratitude does not make people complacent or passive and not motivated. Research has shown that people who practiced gratitude regularly feel well, are happy and are more motivated to succeed, are more productive and make progress.

To practice gratitude one has to make an conscious effort. It does not come easily. We are not all abstract thinkers, so visual reminders that make us aware of creating a mindset of feeling grateful about our lives is needed. As for example, have visual of some pictures that have a specific meaning to you, or have a jar labeled “gratitude jar” in your eyesight. Practicing gratitude for few weeks can slowly become a second nature.

I invite you to write daily in your gratitude journal, brief reflection of moments for which you are thankful for, what you received and who was the giver of that action. I invite you to embrace this practice in your daily life and begin to heal yourself and radiate gratefulness to all those around you.