5 Alternative Therapies That Support Gut Health
Being proactive about your health and wellbeing is more than a supplement routine or following a meal plan. Being well is a lifestyle. From committing to daily routines and making decisions throughout your day that honor your health to being open to new research and practices. Once you have the basics down, feel like your progress has plateaued, or are maybe looking to shake up your routine, alternative therapies can be a great way to practice a little self-care while giving your gut a boost we’re sure it will love.
To learn a little more about what alternative therapies or practices we should be exploring, we reached out to our partner, The Fairy Gutmother, and she shared some great information about five things to consider if you’re looking to expand how you support your gut health.
We probably don’t need to tell you that getting your body moving is a good thing. In fact, consistent exercise has been associated with higher levels of microbiome diversity and beneficial bacteria within our gut. What you may not know is that some types of movement, such as yoga, have additional benefits for your gut.
Studies have shown that yogic breathing and meditation activates the parasympathetic nervous system which clears stress responses within the body, making it easier for your gut to maintain balance and further assist in the regulation of stress. As a gentler approach to exercise than say a HIIT class, yoga has the potential to support a flourishing and diverse microbiome without increasing your cortisol, or stress hormone.
If yoga’s ability to help you manage stress was not enough to convince you to begin your own practice, maybe finding out that some practices and poses can actually promote digestive health will do the trick. By acting as a massage for the internal organs, yoga can improve the flow of oxygenated blood and lower blood pressure. Can we get an om?
The thought of voluntarily having needles poked into your skin may sound like a bit much, but for many, acupuncture is a game changer. In a recent interview, Dr. Shari Auth, Co-Founder & Chief Healing Officer of WTHN spoke to acupuncture’s ability to help patients to reduce gas, bloating, stomach pain, acid reflux, inflammation, SIBO, and stress (the route of many issues).
Acupuncture is believed to stimulate the nervous system causing the release of chemicals into your muscles, organs, spinal cord, and brain based upon the points utilized during treatment. This release of chemicals stimulates the body's natural healing abilities and promotes physical and emotional well-being. Which is a one-two poke your gut will appreciate.
If you’re like us, you don’t need another excuse to book a massage, but you’ll gladly take another reason to keep investing in some self-care. Massages are not only a great way to loosen up tight muscles and fascia but also can help stimulate internal organs which may help facilitate the body’s own natural detoxification and elimination pathways.
Chronic pain and the stress of day-to-day life can be taxing on our bodies and throw your gut out of balance thanks to the gut brain axis. Massage can not only help relieve physical ailments, but it has also been shown to reduce stress hormones such as adrenalin, cortisol, and norepinephrine while prompting the release of endorphins. Massage essentially hits the reset button on your stress levels, giving your brain and gut the break they have been begging for.
While your run of the mill massage will have all the benefits above, adding abdominal massage to an existing treatment or an abdominal focused massage (even self-administered), can help with more serious digestive issues. In fact, a 2018 study found that a 15-minute abdominal massage, twice a day, for three days improved the digestive issues of individuals who had an endotracheal tube. The massage group of the same study also saw a reduction in their abdominal circumference and experienced a significant decrease in constipation.
You may think cryotherapy is only for professional athletes, or hardcore bio-hackers, but we’re here to say that cryotherapy can benefit anyone. Cryotherapy’s ability to reduce inflammation has been linked to reducing the symptoms of depression and anxiety, and may help heal and strengthen the gut lining.
While we’re not huge fans of the cold, we are huge fans of the benefits cold exposure therapies like cryotherapy can provide.
Last, and certainly not least, let’s talk about spending some time in the sauna.
Saunas support natural detoxification within the body but also has been known to help reduce inflammation, stress and chronic pain, support mental health, and improve cardiovascular health, ultimately benefiting your gut and overall health.
The two most common types of saunas are traditional (also called Finnish saunas) and infrared saunas. The differences between the two is how they raise your body temperature. While traditional saunas heat the air to high temperatures, heating the body from the outside in, infrared saunas use light that penetrates the skin, heating the body from the inside out. Of the two, traditional saunas have been more extensively researched, which may sway which one you choose for your next sweat session.
While your head may be swimming in the new possibilities, it’s important to do your own research (via peer reviewed studies preferably) and talk to your doctor/s about what therapies and/or practices would be a good fit for your health and wellness goals.
One thing we can assure you about expanding your health and wellness tool kit is that the more you research, implement, and learn, the more you want to keep researching, implementing, and learning.
Here’s to being well!