Vagus Nerve Exercises For Digestion - Neuvana

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January 18, 2023 6 min read

Are vagus nerve exercises for digestion the answer to your problems? They just might be if you’re someone who deals with digestion issues and can’t seem to find anything to help. If that’s the case then you’re likely going to want to do all you can to fix those issues.

 

Vagus nerve exercises help with vagus nerve stimulation, which is what’s ultimately going to help when it comes to fixing your gut. In today’s post, we’ll cover how that concept works along with some of the vagus nerve exercises for digestion you can try on your own.

The Vagus Nerve and Digestion Connection

To help you truly understand the many effects of the vagus nerve, you should first understand the connection it has to both the vagus nerve and digestion. 


You might be surprised to know the vagus nerve actually plays a major role in how quickly you’re able to digest your food. It also happens to be the main connector between your brain and your gut. It’s responsible for communication between the two as it helps transmit important signals.

 

Vagus nerve stimulation helps to relax you which sends good signals to your gut. This then allows you to digest your food more easily. It’s hard to digest when you’re stressed after all!

 

Further to that, the vagus nerve is responsible for taking on a number of other tasks related to digestion.

 

  • Stomach: Your vagus nerve will actually communicate to the stomach that it’s time to churn your food and produce the stomach acid you need to digest. Without the acid, your stomach has low enzyme production which makes digestion pretty much impossible.
  • Liver: Your vagus nerve is responsible for the function of the liver as it’s the main communicator between it and the brain. It tells the liver to produce bile which eventually ends up next to the small intestine to help with the digestion of fat. The liver also assists in the production of glucose which helps to maintain your blood sugar levels.
  • Pancreas: Your pancreas is what allows you to produce the enzymes required for your body to digest fat, protein, and carbs. It also helps to balance your blood sugar and connects to the brain via the vagus nerve.
  • Intestines: Last but not least is your intestines, which are both controlled by the vagus nerve. Your vagus nerve is what tells the intestines to push food through your digestive system, which makes it a very important connector!

Why is it Important to Stimulate the Vagus Nerve?

You might be wondering if it’s really that important to stimulate the vagus nerve. Aside from all that vagus nerve stimulation can do for digestion. There are a ton of reasons to ensure you’re experiencing vagus nerve stimulation.

 

When the vagus nerve is stimulated, it sends messages to your mind and body that it’s time to relax and let go of any stress. This can end up improving your life in tons of different ways, such as allowing you to sleep better, improve your mood overall, help with pain management, improve your resilience and your overall well-being.

 

When you experience fight or flight you’re suddenly adding a lot of stress to your body. The body becomes ready to either flee the scene or to fight out the situation.  When this happens too often, your body can begin to experience chronic stress which then releases hormones like cortisol. This constant release can ultimately lead to health problems such as anxiety, mood swings, and poor digestion.

 

Vagus nerve stimulation helps to counteract this response as it helps to trigger relaxation and helps you deal with the situation at hand. It really is a major part of how our bodies function and our minds as a result!

8 Vagus Nerve Exercises for Digestion Support

Now here’s the part you came for! Eight different, yet equally effective vagus nerve exercises for digestion support. Give these a try and you’re sure to improve your digestion over time.

Slow breathing

Breathing exercises are a great way to stimulate the vagus nerve and improve your digestion as a result. Start by getting yourself into a comfortable position. This could be laying down or sitting. As you’re practicing breathing, try to focus on exhaling longer than you inhale. This will help to trigger relaxation and rid your body of carbon dioxide.

 

You should also think about opening up your rib cage and expanding your belly as you breathe.

 

There are a few different breathing exercises you can try such as inhaling through your nose for a count of four seconds and then holding your breath for seven seconds. You should then exhale from your mouth for a total of eight seconds and repeat the cycle four times.

 

Another example is to close one nostril and breathe in and out of the other. Again, focus on exhaling longer than you inhale before you switch to the other nostril. It’s usually best to do this for one minute with each nostril.

Humming and/or singing

When you activate the muscles at the back of your throat, it actually helps to stimulate the vagus nerve. This is something that can be done through humming or singing and is a super easy exercise to try out!

 

You might turn up the music extra loud in your car while you’re driving to belt out some lyrics. Or you could take advantage of singing in the shower. It’s a super great way to stimulate the vagus nerve and can also be a lot of fun!

Cold exposure

Is cold exposure really an effective way to stimulate the vagus nerve? You bet it is! When you expose yourself to the cold, you increase your rest and digest response while stimulating the vagus nerve. You might go for a cold shower or finish off your hot shower with a cold blast for a minute or so.

 

Sometimes it’s even just as effective to wash your face with cold water. This is also a great way to wake yourself up during the day and feel a lot more refreshed.

Getting exercise

Exercise is good for you for a ton of different reasons. One of them just so happens to be vagus nerve stimulation. It could be something as simple as going for a quick walk, or doing a more intense exercise like a spin class.

 

Try not to worry about which exercise is going to be best, but rather focus on moving your body and doing whatever it is that makes you feel good. You should finish your workout feeling energized and ready to take on the day.

Meditation

Meditation is a fantastic vagus nerve exercise for digestion. It helps to slow down your breathing and calm down your brain. You might try a guided meditation to really help you focus.

 

There are tons of different options out there for meditation, including videos on YouTube or  apps like Headspace.

 

If you’re just starting meditation for the first time, try starting with 10 minutes or so and then increasing the time as you go. Remove all distractions and do your best to stay present during your session.

Massage

Who doesn’t love a massage? Especially when it can help when it comes to vagus nerve stimulation. Massages help you to feel relaxed and will stimulate the rest and digest tone.

 

Sometimes getting a professional massage isn’t an option. If that’s the case you can always use a tennis ball or a roller to roll out your legs and feet. Stretching can also be super effective when it comes to relaxing the mind and body and keeping your health as a top priority.

Laughing and socializing

Things like laughter and socialization are great for stimulating the vagus nerve. Along with anything that brings you joy and feelings of happiness.

 

Take the time to do the things that make you happy. Whether that’s spending time with family and friends and listening to music that puts you in a good mood. These positive emotions will help to stimulate the vagus nerve and help make you feel good overall.

Fasting

If you haven’t tried out intermittent fasting, now might be the time! Intermittent fasting helps to give your digestive system a break so it can rest and reset.

 

This break can be super helpful when it comes to digesting your food. Be sure to listen to your body and always do what feels best!

Final Thoughts

You might have never imagined that the above exercises could end up having a major effect on your digestion. But it’s incredible that even just a small amount of time dedicated to each of them can help improve your life in a number of ways – even more than just your gut health!

 

Be sure to keep an open mind as you work through these vagus nerve exercises for digestion support. While one thing might work great for someone else, it might not always be the right answer for you. Take your time and commit to a bit of trial and error to see what works best.