Make rational decisions with pro and con lists. Let your heart lead you. Trust your gut. These are all bits of advice I have followed when making decisions. However, I have often wondered why they are not all coordinated. In big decisions my mind and heart have been at adds. Or my mind and gut seem to argue. Scientists refer to your mind, your heart, and your gut as the three brains.
Much research has been done on the Vagus Nerve which connects these three major organs. This nerve explains how information you experience with your five sense is fed to her your and your gut. The research shows that our mind is used for now the information coming in. Our heart is used for feeling or adding emotion to that information. And our gut is used to digest or process the information. So, my question remains. How these three minds could be at odds?
Turns out the answer is “easy/hard.” This is a term a family member coined when things are too easy it makes it hard to execute. The answer to putting these three brains coordinated and unlocking their full power is to have a healthy mind, heart, and gut. And the X Factor is keeping the Vagus Nerve activated. Doing this will result in healthier decision making.
Harvard Health provides the following as ways to keep your brain health 12 ways to keep your brain young - Harvard Health. It is interesting that first three include the mind, the heart, and the gut. The connections between these three key organs are critical to overall health.
1. Get mental stimulation
2. Get physical exercise
3. Improve your diet
4. Improve your blood pressure
5. Improve your blood sugar
6. Improve your cholesterol
7. Consider low dose aspirin
8. Avoid tobacco
9. Do not abuse alcohol
10. Care for emotions
11. Protect your head
12. Build social networks
Harvard Health has also done research on a healthy heart providing 10 Small Steps for Better Heart Health - Harvard Health. Here again you will see the connection between what you eat and your heart health. Taking the time to mentally be grateful is also on the list.
1. Take a 10-minute walk
2. Lift weights
3. Eat one extra fruit or vegetable a day
4. Make breakfast count
5. Stop drinking your calories
6. Have a handful of nuts
7. Breathe deeply
8. Wash your hands often
9. Count your blessings
Medical News Today has written an article, 10 research-backed ways to improve gut health (medicalnewstoday.com) that advises the following to improve our gut health.
1. Take probiotics and eat fermented foods
2. Eat prebiotic fiber
3. Eat less sugar and sweeteners
4. Reduce stress
5. Avoid taking antibiotics unnecessarily
6. Exercise regularly
7. Get enough sleep
8. Use different cleaning products
9. Avoid smoking
10. Eat a vegetarian diet
Throughout the three lists above you will notice several items have been put in bold. I have done this to help identify those topics that overlap across all three lists. Knowing how to keep these three brains healthy is the first step. The next step is to activate the main communication channel between them. As the Vagus Nerve runs to all three, better understanding how to get the most out of this communication channel will reduce stress, improve digestion, and manage your fear response.
Nutrition and Stimulation of Vagus Nerve
Body Bio has written a great article, How to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve | BodyBio, proving the following tips for feeding and activating the Vagus Nerve.
Deep, diaphragmatic breathing
Singing, laughing, gargling, and humming
Listening to certain sound frequencies
There are simple themes we have all heard over and over; reduce stress, eat healthy, get exercise, avoid alcohol and tobacco. So much easier to say than it is to put into practice. But if you needed one more reason to make these practices a habit, they are important for your decision making. Your decision making directly impacts your quality of life. How you take care of your mind, heart, and gut allows for a soothed spirit.