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My Number 1 Health Tip for 2016

10 March 2016 No Comment

My number 1 health tip for 2015 was to MOVE MORE, and no doubt you would’ve seen one of the countless articles talking about how bad prolonged sitting is for your health. Some articles called prolonged sitting worse for your health than smoking or obesity, and 60 Minutes did a great story which I posted outlining the benefits of moving more.

If 2015 was all about MOVING, 2016 is all about BREATHING. Well, breathing and Bruno Mars. I love that guy.

When we talk about breathing, in very basic terms we are talking about chest breathing and abdominal breathing.

What we want more of is abdominal, or diaphragmatic breathing, because this type of breathing is deeper, it’s more relaxed, and it has been linked to a wide variety of benefits like more oxygen to your body, more alpha wave activity in your brain (which improves your ability to focus), and according to an article I read by a mate of mine, Andrew May (Partner at the KPMG Performance Clinic and leading productivity expert) this type of breathing can help you relax in stressful situations and reduce muscle tension and anxiety levels within 60 seconds.

And if he’s talking about breathing then I know I’m #ontrend.

One of the other things this type of breathing does is improve the tone of a nerve called the Vagus nerve.

I read something pretty amazing about the Vagus nerve recently. I want to share it with you as I think it is one of the MOST PROFOUND ways to improve your health. I am going to suggest that this be something you think about as a health goal for 2016.

A little over a year ago, a study was published that looked at whether the tone of one particular nerve in your body can affect the prognosis for people with cancer. And in a result that shocked a lot of people, it turns out that it absolutely does.

The nerve is called the Vagus Nerve, and it runs from the base of your skull all the way down to your abdomen. It has branches that run to your heart, so it can affect your heart rate, it has branches to your lungs, so it can affect your breathing rate.

Eventually it runs all the way to your stomach. You may have noticed the link between the head and the stomach, such as how stress can cause you to feel sick, or how headaches and nausea sometimes go together. The vagus nerve can be the culprit, and it turns out its effects are far more widespread and serious than this.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, they are usually given a “stage”. A Stage 1 tumour has probably been detected earlier and is more localised (smaller), compared to Stage 4, which is generally larger, more advanced and more widespread. Conventional wisdom has been that someone who is Stage 4 has a worse prognosis than someone at Stage 4.

In basic terms, we thought that the bigger the cancer, the worse your odds are. Not anymore.

What the 2014 study found was that the tone of the Vagus Nerve is actually a better predictor than the stage of the cancer. Which is a bit mindblowing when you think about it. They’re saying that this one nerve somehow affects your body’s immune system to such an extent that if it’s tone is healthy, even if you are at an advanced stage of cancer, you have a better prognosis than someone with early stage cancer if their Vagus Nerve tone is poor. This could turn out to be very handy advice, with rates of cancer diagnosis up 12% in the last 20 years.

But that’s not all the Vagus Nerve does. Studies have shown that if you can change the tone of this nerve you can decrease your heart rate. So anyone with heart problems should work on their vagus nerve.

It’s involved in regulating the inflammatory response http://mosaicscience.com/story/hacking-nervous-system. So anyone with chronic conditions should work on their vagus nerve.

It can help reduce the severity of depression https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201602/mindfulness-meditation-and-the-vagus-nerve-share-many-powers. So anyone battling mental health issues should work on their vagus nerve.

Various types of exercise such as aerobic, strength and yoga can stimulate vagus nerve tone and balance levels of hormones and neurotransmitter related to stress. So if you find your life stressful you should work on their vagus nerve.

To read my guide on how to assess and improve your Vagus Nerve tone, CLICK HERE.





32 Ways to Stimulate Your Vagus Nerve (and All You Need to Know about It)

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