What Being Diagnosed With Gastroparesis Taught Me About The Vagus Nerve

Some of you may be looking at my title asking yourself, what is Gastroparesis? What is a vagus nerve? Gastroparesis is a disease of the muscles of the stomach or the nerves controlling the muscles that causes them to stop working. I was diagnosed with Gastroparesis two years ago. You can read more about my diagnosis and experience by clicking here. The vagus nerve is the largest nerve in the human body. It is one of the cranial nerves that connects the brain to the human body.

What does GP and the Vagus Nerve have anything to do with each other?

In the normal state of the vagus nerve, it contracts the stomach muscles to help move the food through the digestive tract. If someone has Gastroparesis, their vagus nerve can be damaged, which is preventing the food to adequately move through the digestive tract. This can be caused by diabetes as those who are diabetic have a higher chance of being diagnosed with Gastroparesis. In my case, I am not diabetic. I do not really know how I ended up with Gastroparesis. My doctor does not know either. Unfortunately, there is not much research that has been done on it so a lot of answers are missing surrounding this rare, tragic disorder.

The Vagus Nerve is A LOT more influential than some may think

You may be reading this and thinking…I know this already! You may be the other percentage that have no clue the purpose of the vagus nerve. That was me before I was diagnosed with GP. When you get diagnosed, you are forced to learn about your new disorder. You have to make it your friend and know it in and out to survive. I spent weeks just focusing so much time in just looking into it. I was freaking out by the lack of information online. Thank GOD for other online bloggers who share their stories. I hope mine has helped other dealing with this as well.

Okay…so what else does it impact?

The list can go on and on when it comes to your vagus nerve. However, I learned that it helps you breathe by communicating with your lungs. Your vagus nerve keeps your blood pressure levels stable. It activates your immune response. The nerve controls your heart rate. It decreases inflammations by sending an anti-inflammatory signal. Those “gut feelings” you get are also a product of your vagus nerve as it allows your gut to communicate with your brain. On top of all that, it also helps you relax and stay calm so it is easier to deal with stress or anxiety.

What you can do to strengthen your vagus nerve!

Now you may be thinking, okay this nerve does quite a lot for me. How can I help it stay strong? There are actually multiple practices to strengthen your vagus nerve to ensure a healthier lifestyle. Taking deep breaths actually helps. There is a connection between your respiration and your heart rate so it is important to breathe slower. Those who breathe faster, have quicker heart rates and normally have an unhealthier lifestyle.

Cold exposure is actually extremely healthy for this vagus nerve. This is why a lot of individuals use cold plunges and choose to suffer for a few seconds. Keeping your gut happy is also another way to keep your vagus nerve happy! Studies show that probiotics have had a positive influence on the vagus nerve and many health experts recommend daily doses. Using a more soothing voice also helps strengthen your vagus nerve.

You have one life, one body – take care of it.

Seriously, it is so worth it to take care of yourself and put some focus on your body and mind. Take a few yoga classes, pilates, break out of your shell, etc. Enjoy your life but take care of it too. Your body is your temple and it should be cherished. So many people who surround me are constantly putting toxins in their body with everlasting effects. Life may be already short, but why make it shorter? Instead make yourself healthier, stronger and feeling much better!

I am not an expert on this subject, these are just simply facts I have learned while having Gastroparesis. If you have any other comments or suggestions, leave a comment below!

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