The gut is the body’s most underrated organ yet the gut is one of the body’s most important systems. Gut health not only influences your immune system, but it also influences your mind. Gut health, good or bad, affects every aspect of your being. Optimal gut health makes you feel good all over, physically and mentally but an unhealthy gut results in inexplicable malaise, poor health and foggy-headedness.
Let’s take a look at the gut first and then see how the Maya abdominal massage at Melbourne Wellness can provide support in your everyday life.
The gut is an ecosystem that relies on trillions of healthy bacteria to support the immune system. 80% of the immune system lines the gastrointestinal tract, creating a protective barrier. Damage caused by unhealthy bacteria, viruses, parasites, excessive consumption of alcohol, caffeine, sugar, anti-inflammatory drugs and antibiotics activates stress and the immune response mechanisms in the body which leads to conditions such as allergies, arthritis, heart and skin disorders, difficulty in conceiving, irritable bowel and leaky gut syndromes and the ubiquitous digestive issues. Undigested food proteins, toxins, bacteria and chemicals can leak through the damaged barrier and trickle directly into the bloodstream, leading to inflammation and triggering the stress hormones in an alarm response of the body. By overburdening the body and its detoxification processes, several autoimmune diseases start proliferating.
The next interesting fact to be aware of is that there are nerve cells in the walls of the digestive system that act as a brain, consequently called the enteric (meaning intestinal) nervous system brain, or simply, the second brain. It is composed of two thin layers of more than 100 million nerve cells which line the gastrointestinal tract from the oesophagus to the rectum.
The main role of the second brain is to control digestion, from swallowing to the release of enzymes that break down food to the control of blood flow that helps with nutrient absorption to elimination.
The two brains—the one in the head and the one in the bowel— communicate with each other back and forth, with profound results. Ever felt butterflies in the stomach, or have had a gut feeling about something? So, while the second brain does not have the capacity to think, make decisions or write a piece of music, the second brain does send signals to the brain in the head and influences the way you think or feel.
Finally, the other important thing to realise is that 90 percent ofthebody'sserotoninismadeinthedigestive tract. Serotonin, a chemical primarily found in the stomach and intestines, impacts every part of your body, from your emotions to physical functions. It’s a multifaceted chemical that helps with sleeping, eating and digesting as well as stabilising moods, reducing depression and anxiety, healing wounds through blood clotting, stimulating nausea to expel toxins, maintaining bone health, and controlling bowel movement.
As I’ve often noticed when giving a Maya Abdominal massage at Melbourne Wellness, gut health is, in many cases, affected by personal emotions that are stored in the abdomen. As a consequence, the abominable lumen is tightened, thereby restricting the natural flow of blood, nerve, lymph and chi to the digestive system.
So how can Maya abdominal massage help?
- Releases stomach muscle tension, tenderness and tightness so that blood and lymph may circulate more efficiently.
- Relaxes the diaphragm which in turn helps improve the five systems of flow - arterial, venal, nerve, lymph and ch'ulel (Maya for life force) - to the organs, improving homeostatis and hemodynamics, thereby improving the functions of the digestive organs and the body as a whole.
- Eases any rapid pulse in the abdomen, an indication that the diaphragm and stomach muscles have shortened and tightened to the extent that they are squeezing the descending thoracic artery that carries blood and nutrients to the rest of the body below the stomach. The rapid pulse is a way of compensating for this constriction by adding more power and pressure to the arterial flow.
- Helps decongest the spleen, gall bladder and liver.
- Stimulates bowel movement and digestive enzymes to work more efficiently so that food is properly digested, absorbed and assimilated.
- Modifies mood swings for anyone suffering from chronic indigestion from toxic overload obtained as well as acidity from a malfunctioning digestive tract.
- Alleviates pain, not the physical ones but, significantly, the emotional ones too. Anger, fear, anxiety and resentment are stored in our muscles as memories, causing chronic muscular tension within the body, leading to decreased blood supply to vital organs and tissues which in turn lead inflammation, degeneration and joint pain.
- Shifts emotional blockages that prevents one from moving forward.
Of course, it goes without saying, that it is also important to make lifestyle and dietary changes to help further improve your gut function and health.
This article was written by Melbourne Wellness Massage Therapist Mafalda Bojanic. Mafalda incorporates Maya Abdominal Massage, Reflexology, Manual Lymph Drainage, Scar Tissue Release, Reiki and Access the Bars.