The Gut-Brain Axis
Have you ever noticed that stress causes us to feel more bloated, crampy, and overall not so hot? Or that our ‘time of the month’ leads to intense cravings, that bottomless pit feeling, and a strong desire for chocolate? Or even that when we’re on vacation, our gut health seems to be at its best, maybe even leading us to forget that bloating is a part of our everyday life? All of this can be blamed on the gut-brain axis, a bidirectional relationship between the brain and the gut. The vagus nerve, the largest nerve in the human body, creates signaling from the brain to the gut and from the gut to the brain all day long; from hunger and fullness to mood and concentration, our intestinal metabolism, aka our digestive health, is highly connected to our brain function.
Both the brain and the gut are complex organ systems, and recent data suggests that they’re more connected than previously thought. Research shows that the food we eat has a majorimpact on our entire body, especially how well our digestive system is working, and another function, sleep, has also been shown to be highly correlated with healthy digestion. This means that digestion and sleep go hand-in-hand; keep reading to learn more about what consequences this has for us, why we should use both Bloat and Sleep to maximize our health, and whichingredients help us do just that. How do we optimize both of these systems to feel our best?
Why is Sleep so Important for Digestion?
During sleep, our body repairs and regenerates itself, the brain stores information, and toxic waste is filtered and sent to our digestive system to be excreted. Hence, when we don’t sleep enough or when our quality of sleep is poor, our digestive system feels it, too.
Though we can’t feel a rumbling stomach or bloating when we’re fast asleep, our bodies are working extremely hard to process, absorb, and separate the nutrients and waste from the food we consumed during the day. Digestion is a process done by the parasympathetic nervous system, deemed the ‘rest and digest’ system because it functions optimally when our bodies are in a low stress state. During sleep, our body is at its peak resting state, enabling important functions, like digestion, to occur.Without adequate sleep, or during a restless night, our digestion is disrupted, leading to feelings of nausea, discomfort, bloating, and bowel irregularities.
New data strongly suggests that there are very specific consequences for digestive functioning and several gastrointestinal disorders that accompany lack of, poor quality, or short duration of sleep. Sleep affects our gut-brain axis, hormone regulation, and immune system, which all together have a large impact on how we digest and absorb the nutrients from our food. Scientists have now determined that sleep can affect how well the digestive system functions, and that digestive health plays a role in how well someone sleeps. The correlation between sleep and digestion is a two way street; much like the gut-brain axis, when one system is off-balance, the other is, too.
Doze and Digest 101
The Doze and Digest bundle was created with this symbiotic relationship in mind. Our Sleep Alchemy capsules enable us to get the most out of our sleep, leaving us feeling refreshed first thing in the morning. Our Bloat Alchemy capsules target digestion so that we can both prevent and treat uncomfortable symptoms like bloating and gas.
Formulated by a Naturopathic Doctor, the all-natural ingredients help to optimize overall health. Continue reading to learn a bit more about how our clean formulations can help you get the most out of your sleepandyour digestion.
Bromelain: Bromelain has been shown to reduce symptoms of IBS, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease by decreasing the expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the body. Additionally, bromelain has been found to be effective in increasing gut motility, making it the perfect digestive aid.
Ginger Root: Ginger root has been used in both traditional Chinese medicine and naturopathic care to alleviate bloating, nausea, gas, indigestion, and intestinal cramping, in addition to strengthening the tone of the intestinal muscles.
Lemon Balm: Lemon balm has been acknowledged by the European Medicines Agency to be an effective treatment in bloating and the production of gas. Additionally, it has been found to decrease the contractions in the jejunum and ileum, parts of the small intestine.
Dandelion Root: Studies have analyzed the therapeutic effects of dandelion root, which has been used substantially in traditional medicine. Research has found that dandelion root is composed of the complex carbohydrate, inulin, which is effective at promoting the removal of pathogens in the gastrointestinal tract. It has also been found to aid in the reduction of bloat.
Peppermint: Peppermint has been used since ancient times to decrease intestinal muscle spasms and excess inflammation and to increase gastric emptying, or the movement of food from the stomach to the intestines. While the benefits of peppermint are vast, modern research has shown that it is best effective in pill form, due to its ability to be directly targeted to the GI tract.
Slippery Elm: Research shows that slippery elm is effective in treating various GI issues, and is especially beneficial for those with constipation-predominant IBS. A study of 31 patients aiming to test the efficacy of slippery elm found a 20% increase in bowel movement frequency and stool consistency, as well as reductions in straining, abdominal pain, and bloating.
GABA: GABA affects sleep quality by inhibiting both “REM-on” and “REM-off” neurons in the brainstem and by regulating transitions between various sleep cycles. Several GABA neurons outside the brainstem also play a role in circadian rhythm and homeostatic regulation of sleep.
Chamomile: Chamomile is widely regarded as a mild tranquilizer and sleep-inducer. The sedative effects may be due to the flavonoid apigenin, which binds to GABA receptors in the brain. Various studies have attributed chamomile to shorter sleep latency and fewer night awakenings. Chamomile has also been shown to confer relaxation and has been studied in context with generalized anxiety disorder. A 2017 study of 61 patients found a significant reduction in anxiety levels in the treatment group.
Valerian Root: The compounds in Valerian root play a role in signaling GABA receptors, ultimately leading to the increase of GABA levels and thereby contributing to valerian root’s sedative effects. One study from 2007 highlighted the sleep-inducing effects of Valerian root, having shown improvements in sleep quality, fewer night awakenings, and longer sleep duration in the treatment group.
Holy Basil: As an adaptogen, holy basil protects the body and mind from the negative effects of physical, chemical, metabolic and psychological stress. Holy Basil increases levels of dopamine and acetylcholine, while normalizing blood glucose, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. Though holy basil has been found to improve sleep cycle regulation, it acts through calming effects rather than being a sedative, so it does not inherently cause drowsiness.
Hops: Overall, Hops modulates the sleep/wake cycle and promotes sleep induction while also reducing stress, anxiety, and depression levels. Hops is a mild sedative and has been shown to increase levels of both GABA and serotonin, two key components in sleep regulation. Serotonin and melatonin work together to maintain the circadian rhythm.