As I previously discussed in my "The Parasympathetic State" post the autonomic system is divided into 3 parts: the sympathetic (S) - flight or fight, the parasympathetic (PS) - rest and digest, and the Enteric - the gut-brain-axis.
The Enteric Nervous System (ENS) is continuously monitoring our outside environment through the food, drinks and drugs we ingest; and toxins and pathogens we are exposed to.
They enter through our mouth, eyes, nose, ears, upper respiratory tract and lungs which all drain into the gut. Microbes (the bacteria that live inside our gut) have full access to our ENS and they are in control of how our body responds to our environment. They are collectively known as the MICROBIOME and directly interact with the autonomic nervous system. When we eat its increases the PS state to rest and digest. Starch and fibre enters our gut and is broken down into short chain fatty acids (SCFA) these are called POSTBIOTICS and enhance the switch into the PS state.
90% of SEROTONIN, a brain neurotransmitter, is found in the GUT and these helps switch us to the PS state as well .
As around 80% of our immune system is in our gut increasing microbe diversity is key as this can increase the serotonin and postbiotics load.
If there is no diversity then overgrowth of “bad” bacteria occurs and this switches us to the sympathetic state which increases anxiety, panic attacks as well as diarrhoea.
So how do we increase our diversity in our gut microbiome?
Eat the rainbow diet.
Eat organic and plant based diet if possible
Avoid processed foods
Eat live yoghurt, kefir, apple cider vinegar - watch if you have MCAS
Try gardening - abundance of good soil microbes and anxiety reducing
Reduce stress as this triggers stress hormones to release -this encourages bad bacteria overgrowth.
Stimulating the PS state - deep breathing, cold showers, cold swims.
Exercise within your PEM limit - post exercise we switch over to the PS state
Zinc can help with diarrhoea
Helping our individual microbiome may help us fight off a Covid-19 infection and may help in our LongCovid recovery.