Somatic Regulation and the Gut

Soma means the body. A somatic approach to gut issues uses the wisdom of the body through the intricate pathways of the amazing nervous system. There are three main states of the nervous system that affect our gut health: the Sympathetic (fight or flight), parasympathetic ventral (rest and digest) and the parasympathetic dorsal (freeze response). When we are in the parasympathetic state, we are optimally working our digestive tract, allowing for the breakdown of foods, absorption of nutrients, movement of food down the system, diversifying the microbiome AKA “gut flora”, enhancing sugar control and immune function and allowing for detoxification and elimination of waste. However for many of us, we are living with chronic stress and trauma patterns which direct our nervous systems to the sympathetic or parasympathetic dorsal states which are inhibitory to the digestive tract. The power lies in awareness of your nervous system state and redirecting your soma to work towards gut optimization.

What are some practices you can do intentionally to direct your body to the parasympathetic nervous system AKA rest and digest state.

  • Deep breathing to engage your vagus nerve and to send calming messages to your gut.
  • Showing gratitude for the meal in front of you.
  • Visualizing a happy, calm scene before and during your meal.
  • Engaging with others throughout the meal experience.
  • Choosing healthier foods that promote good diverse bacteria, yeast, viruses and protozoa.
  • Optimizing sleep habits that help your gut rest and repair itself at night.

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