Body talk – are you listening?
We humans have been roaming this glorious planet for millions of years. Apart from the fact that we now walk upright, everything else about our body functions are pretty much the same; we produce the same saliva, digestive enzymes, insulin etc and we still get rid of our waste as we always did…although most of us now sit on porcelain hardware instead of squatting over a ditch (the latter position actually more effective at elimination!)
We used to know that we could eat that fruit…but not that one, knew that these berries were safe…these were not. Just as animals inherently know. So how did we learn these lessons? Well, quite simply, our inbuilt flight or fight response would quickly alert us through the fascinating autonomic nervous system within the gut-brain-axis. The trillions of healthy bacteria (microbiome) that reside in your gut are known as your second brain and every second of the day it talks to your first brain. It's no coincidence that we use terms like gut reaction, gut feeling and gut response.
We are all born with this innate knowledge of what helps or harms us but we often override it. Take a baby with an egg intolerance. Mum has been told eggs are a good protein source for the child, so she lovingly makes a gorgeous, scrambled egg breakfast (organic eggs at that because she wants to do the very best for her baby). She puts the spoon to the baby's mouth but instead of eagerly devouring the food, the baby shuts its lips tightly and pulls away. There's a difference between a baby exploring a new taste and texture and reacting with a facial expression, to an absolute pulling away, backing off and even hands going up to the face or pushing away the spoon. If that happens it’s highly likely the baby’s inbuilt knowledge of ‘safe’ foods is kicking in and it knows that (for now, maybe not forever) eggs are not a good food to have. But what we tend to do is pull their hands down, scrape the egg from their face and repeat the attempt until the baby succumbs. We've overridden that child's natural response to his egg intolerance and now that child might go on to get eczema or digestive issues … and the caring mum will rush off and get skin creams and digestive remedies. Worse still, undetected food intolerances lead to nutritional deficiencies.
But fear not – our body talks to us to tell us what we need!
When we're running low on nutrient supplies our two brains communicate with each other and clearly let us know what we need. Say you were running low in zinc (a crucial mineral for every cell in your body) your second brain will talk to your first brain and say ‘hey, zinc is low - send a signal out ‘ (well, that’s what it would say if it could talk 😉 ) So you might notice that you develop a few spots on your body. Do you get zinc? No, you get some special face wash. Ok then, now your gums begin to bleed easily when you brush your teeth. Will that convince you to look deeper into what’s happening? No, you invest in some expensive toothpaste. Now you're getting lots of colds and coughs because your immune system's low due to your lack of zinc and you just can’t get rid of that stubborn cold sore, so you take over-the-counter cold remedies. These early signs of lack of zinc have to be taken seriously because low levels have been connected with conditions such as Alzheimer’s. Your body has been talking to you loud and clear but you but you haven't joined up the dots yet.
A lack of B vitamins can manifest as hormonal imbalances, fatigue, skin problems and more, but so often we treat all the symptoms separately rather than address the cause.
If we just stopped and took notice of how our body feels we would be more aware of what it’s trying to tell us. Try checking in when you go to bed at night. Start from your head and move down your body. What’s changed? What feels different? How’s your digestive health?
Join me (Alison) and the ATTA team on September 20th for my workshop ‘Body Talk – Are You Listening’ to learn more about this fascinating subject and get to understand your own body talk …and what you can do about it!
If you're reading this past the 20th the recorded version is also up on the website here.