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The Better Behavior Show with Dr. Nicole Beurkens

Apr 8, 2020

My guest this week is Dr. Navaz Habib, the founder of Health Upgraded, a Functional Medicine and Health Optimization clinic in Toronto, Canada. By identifying the root causes of health imbalances, and addressing them naturally, his patients experience optimal health the way their bodies were meant to feel and allow them to contribute to humanity and serve more people. Dr. Habib’s book “Activate Your Vagus Nerve” is a simple and effective guide to help identify and address major missing pieces in patients dealing with chronic health concerns such as anxiety and depression. 

In this episode. Dr. Habib and I discuss how activating and strengthening the vagus nerve can allow for improved mental health and behavior in both children and adults. Dr. Habib introduces the audience to the vital functions of the vagus nerve and how activating it can optimize our productivity and energy levels. Maintaining the health of the vagus nerve can improve chronic issues such as sleep apnea, emphysema, anxiety, stress, and depression. To learn more about the vagus nerve and Dr. Navaz Habib click here.


Episode Timestamps

Episode Intro … 00:00:30
Dr. Navaz’s Story … 00:02:25
What Is The Vagus Nerve? … 00:08:00
Causes of Disrupting Vagus Nerve Functions … 00:14:45
Vagus Nerve + Mental Health and Behavior ... 00:20:17
Assessing Vagus Nerve Function … 00:26:24
Strategies To Optimize Vagus Nerve Function … 00:31:45
Episode Wrap Up … 00:50:00


Episode Highlights

What Is The Vagus Nerve?

  • Nerves are the information transfer tunnels between the brain and the rest of the body
  • The vagus nerve plays four major functions:
    • Around 80% of the information that is presented or remains on the vagus nerves comes from our organs, upward to the brain. It tells the brain what is happening in the gut and when your body has experienced any trauma.
    • About 15% of information on the vagus nerve is going from the brain to an organ, parasympathetically
    • About 3% of the information on the vagus nerve goes to the muscles at the back of the throat and vocal cords
      • Strive to keep your airways strong and open
      • Sleep apnea, emphysema, COPD are issues that decrease vagus nerve function 
    • The great auricular nerve in the center part of the ear is a specific sensory branch of the vagus nerve


Causes of Disrupting Vagus Nerve Functions

  • Excess inflammation can be harmful to the vagus nerve function
  • Inflammatory foods stimulate inflammation
    • Over time, excessive inflammation wears down the vagus nerve as it constantly acting as the “brakes” to our inflammatory system


Vagus Nerve + Mental Health and Behavior

  • Approx. 94% of the serotonin in our body is produced in the gut and located in our enteric nervous system
  • An imbalance in neurotransmitters working from the gut to the brain are strongly linked to anxiety and depression
    • Those neurotransmitters are being signaled to the brain through the vagus nerve
  • Often these imbalances are also seen in behavioral issues 
  • Addressing gut health is essential 


Assessing Vagus Nerve Function

  • Assess bowel transit time
    • Drink a glass of water with a spoonful of white sesame seeds and track when you discover them in yours or your child’s stool
      • An ideal bowel transit time would be for the seeds to begin appearing between 16-24 hours
  • Assess heart rate variability
    • Tools like Corsense Elite HRV, HeartMath, Oura ring


Strategies To Optimize and Activate Vagus Nerve Function

  • Working on deep breathing work at least 3x a day 
    • Learn to breathe correctly from your belly versus your chest
  • Humming 
    • Simple humming with your children at mealtime or in the morning and at bedtime will help bring you into a calm state
  • Gargling
    • Practicing gargling water or saltwater every morning and night
    • This activity forces you to work the muscles at the back of the throat
  • Listening to music and sounds of nature/birds chirping 
    • Having your child lay silently and listen to music or natures sounds of birds chirping can help in calming down
      • Great technique to use before bed


Where to learn more about Dr. Navaz Habib...


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Need help with improving your child’s behavior naturally? 

  • My book Life Will Get Better is available for purchase, click here to learn more. 
  • Looking for more? Check out my Blog and the Better Behavior Naturally Parent Program - a resource guide for parents who want to be more effective with improving their child’s behavior. 
  • Interested in becoming a patient? Contact us here