The Vagus Nerve and 5 Ways to Tone It


Presented by Ashley Turner (source)

The Vagus Nerve

  • Also known as the “Wandering Nerve”
    • Connects to most vital organs
      • From the brain through the face and thorax to the abdomen
      • Carries information from the gut, liver, heart and lungs to the brain
    • Mediator of our parasympathetic (rest & digest) response 
    • Influences breathing, digestion and heart rate
      • Sends message to slow down heart rate
        • Releases: acetylcholine (a calming chemical) 
  • Listen to: Polyvagal Theory with Dr. Stephen Porges to learn more about the different branches of the vagus

5 Ways to Tone the Vagus Nerve

  1. Deep Belly Breathing: lengthen the inhale + exhale; calms, tones + soothes the vagus nerve
    • e.g., Meditation 🧘🏾‍♀️
photo of woman singing
Photo by White Gold Photography
  1. Chanting: singing or chanting are great ways to tone the vagus nerve
    • e.g., Singing songs from your favourite Spotify playlist 🎵
  2. Spinal Flexion: massages the vagus nerve
    • e.g., Yoga (cat/cow, seated spinal movements) 🌸
  3. Belly Laughing: increases circulation, blood flow, tones diagram + strengthens the vagus nerve
    • e.g., Watch comedies 😂
  4. Splash Face: tones your vagus nerve in the morning and resets/wakes up your nervous system
    • e.g., Splash face and eyes in the morning with cool water 💦

Why Tone the Vagus Nerve?

  • Decreases stress and anxiety (activates rest & digest system)
  • Deepens breathing
  • Lowers heart rate and increases circulation in the body
  • Opens emotional capacity (feeling grounded and lighter)

Ready to get started?

Vagus Nerve: Breathing for Relaxation
Spotify – Summer Hits Playlist
Cat-Cow Yoga Pose – Yoga With Adriene


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

Gut Health 101

Health & Lifestyle

Presented by Rhiannon Lytle, RHN with Organika (source)

Photo by Needpix

Gut Microbiome

  • Gut: everything from the mouth to rectum 
  • Microbiome: bacteria, viruses that live on and in the body
    • Everything has a microbiome (even the skin)
  • Gut microbiome is like a “little rainforest” in your body that is made up of cells and organisms
    • Everything works in conjunction (you need good and bad; problems can arise when off balance)
    • Medication or illness can disrupt microbiome and cause an imbalance 


  • An imbalance of too much bad or not enough good organisms composed in the gut
    • Candida (yeast overgrowth) 
    • Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO)
    • Irritable Bowel Syndrome/Disease (IBS/IBD)
  • Indicators: uncontrollable sugar cravings, bloating after meals, constipation 

Leaky Gut

  • Formally known as Intestinal Permeability 
  • Our intestinal wall has small gaps (called tight junctions) to let water and nutrients that our body needs daily to pass through 
  • Due to inflammatory factors (e.g., foods, medication, illness), small gaps can grow larger in the lining of our gut, allowing toxins and undigested food particles through 

Gut Disruptors

  • Refined sugar intake
    • Processed foods, white sugar; can lead to candida (yeast overgrowth)
  • Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)
    • Advil
  • Excessive alcohol
    • Depletes good bacteria 
  • Nutrient deficiencies
    • Vitamin A, E, Zinc
  • Inflammation
    • Leaky gut causing irritation/dysbiosis
  • Stress
    • Causes hormone imbalances
  • Antibiotics
    • Pulls out good gut bacteria
    • Taking probiotics after or alongside antibiotics helps create good bacteria
  • Certain medication

Gut-Brain Connection 

Photo by Pixabay
  • There are 500 million neurons in our gut that connect to our brain
  • The gut (also referred to as our “second brain”) communicates with our actual brain through our nervous system, hormones and immune system
  • Is also known as our “gut-brain axis”
  • The vagus nerve is a major nerve connecting our gut and brain
    • Critical for digestion, heart rate, blood, sleep
    • Important to rest and digestion; slowing down breathing supports digestion and nutrient absorption (engages stomach acid preparing us to eat)
  • Our gut is a hub for neurotransmitter production of:
    • Serotonin: the happy hormone
      • Impacts our mood and how we digest food
    • Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA): controls fear and anxiety
  • How we feel impacts gut; gut can impact how we feel

Gut-Immunity Connection 

  • Gut consists of  70% of the cells that make up our immune system
  • Intestinal lining is our first line of defense in our immune health
    • If our lining isn’t working optimally, our immune system may jump in to support
  • Poor gut health can lead to increased inflammation 

Foods to Consume 👍

close up shot of delicious kimchi on white ceramic plate
Photo of kimchi by makafood
  • Foods to reduce inflammation:
    • Fatty fish
    • Leafy greens
    • Nuts
  • Foods high in probiotics:
    • Sauerkraut 
    • Kimchi
    • Kombucha
    • Kefir
    • Tempeh
  • Foods high in fibre:
    • Fruits & vegetables 
    • Oats
    • Quinoa
    • Beans
  • Foods that increase neurotransmitters:
    • Tryptophan (an amino acid that is important for the production of serotonin)-rich foods like poultry, eggs, spinach, seeds
    • GABA-increasing foods like bone broth, whole grains, fermented foods, oolong tea

Foods to (consider) Avoiding 🙅

  • Refined sugars
  • Alcohol 
  • Dairy
  • Gluten 
  • Caffeine

Organika Recipes

More from Organika
More from Rhiannon Lytle, RHN


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.

Brain-Gut Connection

Health & Lifestyle, Self-Regulation

Did you know that you have two brains? One you already know is in your head, which is your brain. The other is in your stomach, which is known as your gut. Your brain and your gut are connected, literally. Your brain communicates to your gut and your gut communicates to your brain.

…but what does this really mean?

While many of us know or are beginning to understand just how important the development of our brain is to our overall health and well-being, we may not realize just how important our gut is too. For some, or few, this might be the reverse. Some may attribute their overall health and well-being mostly to their gut health and what they consume, and not so much to their brain. But really and truly, both matter and both work together!

so…how does this really work?

Parts of our body is made up of our nervous system. Commonly known as the central nervous system. This system is comprised of our brain and spinal cord. A less commonly known part of our nervous system is called the enteric nervous system (ENS). This system consists of our gut, which is formally known as the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Our GI tract begins where food is taken in through our esophagus, to digestion in our stomach and then expulsions. Our gut can function on its own reflexes while communicating back and forth with our brain. Both the brain and the gut’s nervous system consists of a network of nerves, neurons and neurotransmitters. (See: The Vagus Nerve). This is how it gets its name the “second brain”. They both work together to support our overall health.

Here is an example of how this brain-gut connection works.
Photo by Ola Dapo

Imagine yourself in a stressful or fearful situation. For some, this may be delivering a big presentation or encountering a frightening animal. In fearful and distressing types of situations, your brain’s central nervous system (specifically the sympathetic nervous system) is turned on and your body prepares for a fight, flight or freeze response. Simultaneously, your body’s enteric nervous system (comprising of your digestive system) begins to slow down in an effort to conserve your body’s energy to be used for the situation you are in. As you stand before others, prepared to deliver a big presentation, you may experience what is commonly known as a “butterflies in your stomach feeling” which is often a result of strong nervous, anxious, frightening or feelings of excitement, depending on the situation you are in. This is an example of how your brain affects your gut.

Experiencing persistent problems with your gut such as stomach pain or troubles with digestion can also give rise to feelings of stress and anxiety about the state of your body’s health and well-being, which in turn can have an impact on your mental health.

so listen up !

Taking good care of both your brain and gut is important. In such a way that is best for you. Ensuring you fuel your mental, physical, emotional and social well-being is key, so is being mindful about what you fuel your body with. Fueling your body with foods that support and promote the health of your gut is fundamental. This can include a balanced and nutritious diet that consists of prebiotics, which are foods that are high in fiber such as bananas, oats, apples berries. As well as probiotics, which are good bacteria that help to balance the organisms in your intestine and can be found in yogurt. (See: Gut Health 101)

How brain and gut health is ensured will look differently from person to person and that’s OK! It’s about finding a healthy balance, whether that’s in consuming specific foods or enjoying a SMOOV blend that’s just right for you! 


This website is provided only for informational purposes and not intended to be used to replace professional advice, treatment or professional care. Always speak to your physician, healthcare provider or pediatrician if you have concerns about your own health or the health of a child.