Yoga For Vagus Nerve Stimulation – 3 Ways To Boost Your Health

Yoga For Vagus Nerve Stimulation – 3 Ways To Boost Your Health

Contents

ANS

vagus nerve

vagus stimulation

nervous system & yoga

exercise 1

exercise 2

exercise 3

Yoga For Vagus Nerve Stimulation

Hot Air Or Cool Science?

 Dubbed superhighway to health and physical manifestation of the soul, and alleged to boost your physical, emotional, social – and spiritual – wellbeing, the vagus nerve is a veritable modern-day holy grail for getting healthy and realizing your dreams

The Vagus nerve is a parasympathetic cranial nerve originating in the brainstem. It supplies your internal organs with instructions for global rest-and-restore responses to counter stress and let your body heal and recover

The Vagus can be electrically stimulated to produce effects including a slowing of the heart-rate and a reduction in pain and inflammation, as well as a lifting of your mood

Though the procedure has potential for managing pain and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis, vagal electrical stimulation is currently licensed exclusively for managing treatment-resistant epilepsy and some cases of depression

Given this is a surgical procedure, how is it possible to achieve Vagus nerve stimulation at home without the use of a current?

There’s certainly no shortage of exercises claiming to stimulate the vagus nerve: tapping, chanting, slow breathing, cold water and specific yoga postures are but a few. But what is the evidence that such practices actually work?

This article will introduce the Vagus and parasympathetic nervous system and their significance for you health, and also explore the theory of commonly prescribed vagal exercises, with special reference to yoga as a natural tool for achieving Vagus nerve stimulation

The Autonomic Nervous System

For convenience, we can divide the nervous system into a voluntary or somatic division dealing with conscious perception and voluntary movement, and an autonomic part dealing with – everything else

Until recently the autonomic nervous system (ANS) was divided into:

  1. Sympathetic – fight & flight which, together with cortisol, a hormone released from deep inside your brain, constituted the stress response to situations deemed to be challenging
  2. Parasympathetic – the gentler, yet powerful sibling mediating rest and digest when your body perceives safety
  3. However, this bipartite classification has been replaced by the inclusion of a third, freeze reaction, considered our most primitive form of self-preservation, and associated with the terror of sensing extreme danger

Note That:  rest-and-digest and freeze reactions are BOTH mediated by the Vagus

yoga for vagus nerve activation

Where Is The Vagus Nerve, And What Does it Do?

The vagus is a paired multifunctional nerve travelling from the lower brain stem through the neck to supply target organs from the throat to the pelvis

Latin for wanderer (vagrant), the Vagus is the largest nerve in the body. The vagus is like a tree with many branches passing to many target organs

The nerve travels downward within a (carotid) sheath in company with the Carotid Artery and Internal Jugular Vein. If you (gently) prod your neck below the angle of your jaw to find the carotid pulse, the vagus nerve traces a path straight down from here into the trunk

The vagus is a mixed nerve, relaying information from multiple brain-nuclei involved with distinct, and in some cases disparate functions

The Vagus is multi-modal: it is

  • both sensory and motor
  • it supplies the voluntary muscles for voice and the involuntary reflexes associated with eating, such as of swallowing
  • it is the principal carrier of rest and digest signals from the parasympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) to your internal organs

Some parasympathetic rest and digest actions of the vagus nerve on key organs include

HEART

slows down heart rate, lowers blood pressure

LUNGS

calms the rate and depth of breathing

GUT

stimulates digestion, absorption and intestinal transit

SPLEEN

supports immunity; lowers inflammation
  • The Vagus is also responsible for freeze reactions associated with extreme fear. This is our most ancient and primitive form of self defence. Where running away is not an option animals such as reptiles will feign death to increase the chances of not being eaten. In us humans, freeze is associated with extreme fear and is a factor in trauma and post-traumatic stress

    It should be clear, from this, that the Vagus is essentially a carrier of information connecting distinct brain areas with the internal body, and it is the central nervous system which is responsible for orchestrating the various responses associated with the vagus

    The Listening Vagus

    The vagus is 80% sensory and is the main pathway for interoception: your brain’s ability to listen to the state of your internal organs

    Interoception

    A relatively “newly” recognized sense, interoception is your ability to sense your inner body. Hunger, thirst and satiety are consciously accessible interoceptive sensations. Interoception is strongly linked with emotional regulation, and engaging with your body’s internal state has been shown to help you manage stress & anxiety and enjoy a felt sense of wellbeing

    The Nervous System & Yoga

    So far, we’ve been looking at stimulating the vagus nerve externally. 

    Yoga takes a more holistic inside-out approach, bypassing the vagus altogether. After all, despite it’s structural complexity the vagus nerve is a ultimately a messenger for the central nervous system: speak to the nervous system, and you’re on a direct line via the vagus to every part of your mind and body

    A mind-body intervention (MBI), yoga helps you relax the stress response while boosting the parasympathetic nervous system. Research shows that yoga reduces arousal to improve your blood pressure, blood cholesterol profile and other important predictors for cardiovascular disease and stroke

    A 2017 systematic review of MBIs showed that mindfulness, yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, relaxation and breath regulation all led to a down-regulation of inflammation at the gene level. Inflammation is strongly linked to stress and is a major cause of the blood vessel damage which leads to fat deposition and narrowing

    Laid Back & Alert: Yoga and Autonomic Tone

    You may by now be under the impression that at any given time you’ll find yourself in one autonomic state or another. However, the different parts of the autonomic nervous system work concurrently and synergistically a yin-yang way, to produce an autonomic tone appropriate for every situation

    This explains of yoga’s central tenet that calming your mind, far from reducing awareness, positively enhances your level of alertness

    Let’s now put theory into practice with some yoga exercises to help you stay chilled and on the ball, whatever the weather

    Yoga Exercises To Stimulate The Vagus Nerve

    tadasana yoga for vagus nerve stimulation

    Yoga For Vagus Nerve Stimulation 1:

    Posture & Emotion

    The posture of fear resembles a tortoise hiding its shell: the trunk is tense, the head and extermities pulled in; the breath is held; a small noise can make your knees give way – or turn you into a hare as you make a dash for it

    The posture of safety is a different tortoise: the trunk is relaxed, the limbs strong, the head emerges, the senses look outward and the breath flows

    Here in this most fundamental of yoga postures – Tadasana, the mountain – we’ll use the force of gravity to stimulate postural reflexes which signal safety to the vagus

    The exercise is also a great way to establish the fundamentals for practising all standing postures 

    Stand Firm: Tadasana, The Mountain

    1. Stand with your feet at hips’ width apart. Notice the turn-out (or in) of your feet. The population-average for neutral is your second toe pointing forward. Find your comfortable balance between habit and correct. This is your functional neutral. Do this for each foot. Don’t worry if your feet aren’t totally symmetrical
    2. Distribute your weight evenly over the heels and bases of the little and big toes
    3. Pull your knees back to lock them straight. Do you feel the reaction at the pelvis? The pelvis tends to roll forward, the lower back hollows, and maybe your tummy juts forward
    4. Now, keeping your knees straight let them just relax forward. Feel the base of the spine (sacrum) release down and under? Does your tummy relax back in?
    5. Alternate between relaxing and locking your knees a few times, noticing the effects on your posture
    6. This time try simply pressing your feet into the ground. Straight down. Firmly. Notice the muscles of the legs and trunk activate? Is there less of a tendency for your bottom to stick back and your belly forward? Let yourself relax

    Now we’ve done all that doing, let’s do a bit of undoing

    1. Noticing your body weight over your heels, connect with the feeling of pressure. Let your heels sink into the ground, your knees straight, but unlocked
    2. Maybe you feel the leg muscles begin to activate? If you’re not sure, press your feet down. Firmly. Then relax, and let them once again drop
    3. Can you feel your pelvis rotate backwards as your feet sink, your tail dropping down and tucking under, your pubic bone floating up and back? Maybe you feel the pelvis float up a little, away from the feet?
    4. Do you feel your navel float naturally backwards? You’ve just activated, or rather disinhibited the transversus muscle, the deepest layer of abdominal support
    5. Now, let’s transfer the awareness up to the head: imagine your head as a ball, the top of your neck a bowl of water. Let the head float on the water
    6. With your your gaze forward at eye level, let your head roll on the water so your chin relaxes backwards, towards the top of your throat, and the space between the back of your head and neck opens and softens. You’re still looking forward, not down
    7. Can you feel the crown of the head float up and slightly back?
    8. Now that your head is free, you can let your neck hang from your head; then allow your upper and middle back, rib cage, shoulders and arms to hang from the neck; now let your lower back hang from your middle back; your pelvis and legs drop from the lower back; your feet sink into the ground
    9. Let your head float; allow your feet to drop; linger a while; enjoy

    Yoga For Vagus Nerve Stimulation 2:

    Breathing Calm: Pranayama For The Vagus Nerve

    Experimentally and practically, breathing always comes up trumps as a way to connect with the rest-and-digest functions of the vagus

    Science loves breathing: it’s quantifiable, practicable and reliably parasympathetic, as evidenced in a recent systematic review entitled: “How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life” (A Zaccaro et al, 2018)

    Yoga loves breathing: breath is the primary expression of vital energy in the body. Prana, the vital force of yoga is indistinguishable from the Qi of Chinese medicine. Prana is the living energy we know as health, the spark that animates the body and lights up the mind. When prana moves the mind is active. When prana is still the mind is calm

    The exercises below will help you make full use of the breath by allowing the air to fill every available part

    savasana yoga for vagus nerve stimulation

    The diaphragm is the main muscle of breathing. I’ll be sharing information on the anatomy and functions of the diaphragm in a separate post.

    Just as when lifting your arm you’re following an intention to reach for something, not consciously activating the anterior Deltoid muscle, so when you breathe diaphragmatically you follow a set of intentions. Let me show you what I mean

    Yoga Breathing Exercise For Vagus Nerve Stimulation – Side Breathing

    1. Place your hands over the front of the sides of your lower ribs. Rest you elbows on the ground and keep your hands separate
    2. Mentally place a 2lb weight under the navel. As you inhale your belly will rise, but that little bit of resistance may drive the air sideways into the lower ribs. Can you feel that? Great. Practice your long, slow outbreaths for a minute or two
    balasana yoga for vagus nerve stimulation

    Yoga Breathing Practical For Vagus Nerve Stimulation – Back Breathing

    Now, lie on your front, legs extended or flexed in the child’s pose as per the picture. Support your head if you need to, resting your forehead on your hands or a rolled up blanket

    1. With pressure on your belly, where does the air go when you inhale? Maybe some of it goes into the upper chest. that’s OK. Does some of the air fill the sides of the lower ribs? That’s even better
    2. You can if you want to, place the back of one hand over the lower ribs at the back. Can you allow this area to accept the breath? Try it on the other side
    3. Enjoy exhaling long, soft and for a minute or so

    Yoga For Vagus Nerve Stimulation 3:

    Inhabiting Your Body

    This simple, and powerful body scan is a pure body meditation derived from an ancient Buddhist tradition allegedly taught by the Buddha himself

    The last of our three yoga practices for vagus nerve stimulation, this meditation helps you enjoy calm here and now through a felt sense of you own body. There is nothing to do but relax and observe

    Sit or lie comfortably in a quiet space. Hit the play button. And enjoy

    Related Posts

    Baked Beans À La Différence

    These are the result of a traditional Sunday breakfast in a London café with some Mexican friends who ventured to try the beans. Oh dear…!

    Rest And Digest With Yoga Nidra

    A bordeline state between waking and sleep where you can deeply relax while remaining fully conscious. Nidra is thought to be as ancient as yoga itself …

    Author

    Author

    José Manuel Ponce

    UK registered osteopath, yoga teacher & co-founder of the Spanish Yoga Retreat

    Manuel has enjoyed 4 decades developing & sharing yoga’s potential for bringing health & harmony into your life

    Baked Beans À La Différence

    Baked Beans À La Différence

    Baked Beans

    À La Différence

    A little while back we had some Mexican friends staying with us in London and we wanted to show them a traditional British Sunday breakfast down the local caff.

    They loved the instant coffee, white toast, trans fatty acid laden margarine, pork bangers, mushrooms, bacon. Then Claudia made a face: “sweet beans? Wákala!” (yuk!)

    Obviously they didn’t go to waste. I grew up with baked beans and love them. But I did think I’d have a go at making baked beans fit for a Mexican

    No cheating: baked beans are sweet, just not so sweet they compete for dessert. They are also savoury with that oh so important twang of acidity. I think Claudia liked them. For myself, I haven’t bought a tin of (baked) beans since

    BEANS

    These are typically white beans such as haricot, or cannellini, but any bean is good. I’ve even tried baked chickpeas – they’re great!

    For a no faff method use a can of cooked beans. I find ready cooked beans tend to fall apart and prefer to cook my own. But if you don’t mind your beans a bit mushy or don’t own a pressure cooker keep it simple

    Pressure cooked beans don’t need pre-soaking, though they will cook that much quicker if soaked. Throw them straight in the pot with 4 times their volume of water and a teaspoon full of salt. Salting does’t make your beans hard, producing instead a firm skin with a lovely creamy centre

    Cooking times varies with the type and age of your beans, your pressure cooker and the altitude of your kitchen. As a rule of thumb cook unsoaked white beans for 18-20 minutes at high pressure then turn off the flame and let the pressure reduce naturally to ambient – around 15 minutes

    If you don’t have a pressure cooker soak the beans for 8-12 hours and simmer in fresh water (with salt) for around an hour

    SAUCE

    Tinned baked beans are thickened with corn starch. While corn starch produces a nice shiny glaze, essentially if your sauce needs cornstarch it’s just too thin. The best thickener for a tomato sauce is tomato

    Carrot and celery are the dynamic duo of the Italian soffritto, the basis for a number of sacuces, notably tomato. They are packed with umami (deliciousness) and impart a gentle sweetness to the sharpness of the tomato. They also add body – that is, they help thicken your sauce. Another help along the way for avoiding to corn starch

    TOMATOES

    Tinned tomatoes are great. Better than the tasteless off-season ones you get in supermarkets

    But if you have access to decent fresh plum tommies, it’s a no brainer. Cut them in four, throw them in the blender with a drop of water and blitz them till smooth. No blanching, no peeling, no chopping, no sieving. Tomato skin is full of lycopenes. And discarding the seeds you’re throwing away half the flavour.

    SWEET & SOUR

    I’ve known chefs use tomato ketchup. Fair enough. Bu+t if it’s sweet and sour you’re looking for there are alternatives:

    SWEET

    SUGAR jaggari, muscovado, demerara, white

    NECTARS agave, maple, coconut, honey
    OTHER pomegranite or blackstrap molasses, stevia, xylitol

    SOUR

    VINEGAR malt, wine, cider, sherry, rice

    CITRUS lemon, lime, bergamot, yuzu
    OTHER tamarind, dried mango powder

    CONDIMENTS

    You can really go to town here. Or keep things simple. The recipe below has Korean gochujang: fermented rice and red chilli paste. Why? Because that high priestess of Korean food Maangchi keeps telling us how totally different real gochujang tastes to the shop bought variety and I was nuts enough to follow her recipe. Be warned: it’s massively hard work. And totally worth it

    If gochujang is a step to far to exoticism, or you don’t have a Korean store nearby, or if you don’t want your beans spicy try Spanish paprika or whatever you fancy

    Za’atar is a wonderful Palestinian blend of oregano, marjoram and thyme with ground sesame, sumac and salt. Using any of the above herbs singly or in pairs gives equally great results

    Other condiments include

    chipotle in adobo, guajillo, pasilla, ancho and just about any other fresh or dry chilli. Herbs: epazote, hoja santa, oregano ...

    MEXICAN

    cumin, garam masala, black cardammon, fenugreek, asafoetida ...

    INDIAN

    gochujang, doengjang, miso, ginger, sriracha, shichimi togarashi, black bean sauce, sesame oil, sichuan pepper ...

    FAR EAST

    sumac, ras el hanout, preserved lemon, za'atar, nigella seeds ...

    MIDDLE EAST

    Baked Beans A La Différence

    Cuisine European
    Keyword beans, pulses
    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 30 minutes
    Servings 6

    Equipment

    • Pressure cooker (optional)

    Ingredients

    • 400g dry white beans eg haricot, cannellini OR 2 400g cans cooked beans
    • 2 tbsp oil
    • 1 clove garlic
    • 1 red onion
    • 1 small carrot
    • 1 stick celery
    • 1 400g tin tomatoes or 4-5 fresh plum tomatoes
    • 1/2 tsp za-atar or any combination of thyme, oregano and marjoram
    • 2 tbsp vinegar eg apple cider
    • 1-2 tsp sugar, nectar or stevia
    • 2 tsp Korean gochujang or 1tsp Spanish smoky paprika

    Instructions

    Dry Beans Without Pressure Cooker

    • If you're using tinned beans skip this step
    • soak the beans in plentiful water 6-8 hours or overnight
    • discard the soaking water and rinse the beans under a running tap
    • cook the beans generously covered with water with a teaspoon of salt for around 1 hour or until tender but not mushy

    No-soak Beans In A Pressure Cooker

    • place the beans with 4 times their volume of waterf and teaspoon of salt in the pressure cooker and cook on a low flame at high pressure for around 20 minutes. But please note that the cooking times will depend on the type and also age of your beans. Turn off the flame and allow the pressure to come down gradually to ambient pressure (about 15 minutes)

    Make The Sauce

    • peel of scrape the carrot and celery stick, then chop very finely
    • finely chop the onion and garlic
    • saute all the above in a pan with a little oil. When the mixture is well covered in oil pop a lid on and cook until very soft (this can take 15-20 minutes). Avoid browning by adding a large pinch of salt and an occasional small splash of water
    • Cut fresh tomatoes in quarters and liquidze in a blender. Chop whole tinned tomatoes
    • add the tomatoes, za'atar herb mix and gochujang or paprika
    • Add the "sugar" and vinegar
    • cook the sauce for 10-15 minutes

    Purée The Sauce

    • purée in a globlet blender or a hand-held to a very smooth sauce
    • adjust the seasoning, sweetness and acidity to your taste
    • Add in the beans and cook them in the sauce for 10 minutes, stirring gently so as not to break the beans, and adding a little water if the sauce starts to get too think
    • eat with a couple of poached eggs and sautéed mushrooms on hot buttered toast, crumpets or english muffins

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    Rest And Digest With Yoga Nidra

    Rest And Digest With Yoga Nidra

    A bordeline state between waking and sleep where you can deeply relax while remaining fully conscious. Nidra is thought to be as ancient as yoga itself …

    Khaman Dhokla Recipe: Fermented Chick-Pea Savoury Cake

    Khaman Dhokla Recipe: Fermented Chick-Pea Savoury Cake

    Khaman Dhokla Recipe

    I first tried this savory snack in London, UK. A very special area of west London known as Southall, famous for it’s sumptouous Indian textiles (my raison d’etre: I wanted sari material for my home, not person) and the best curries outside of India, possibly in the world (my real excuse)

    Dhokla is a savoury snack made from fermented chick pea or yellow-split pea batter steamed into a cake, then garnished with an aromatic oil of mustard seed, curry leaf, dried red chilli and hing

    Jump to Recipe

    My dhokla was light and airy with lots of body, a marvellous lactic tang, and a rounded sweetness. And it was wonderfully moist, a sharp-sweet fruity sauce of dates and tamarind rounding it off to perfection.

    No wonder, then, that when I subsequently visited India I looked for this – far and wide, as it happens: dhokla is not ubiquitous in northern India. And when I did find it – in Delhi – I was rather disappoined! It was almost too light and spongy, and also dry, with little or no sourness. It did come with a great coconut and green chilli chutney, though, hot enough to make my throat burn, my nose run and my eyes cry. Marvellous!

    I learnt two things from this:

    1. Indian cuisine is highly regional and to enjoy the best food it’s best to stick to the local fair
    2. Dhokla can be made the instant way with chickpea flour and citric acid without having to wait for an overnight fermentation. The result, though tasty and, with a little effort, moist enough, to my mind simply illustrates the vital importance of making dhokla the proper way

    Method Summary

    You’ll find the step-by-step recipe below. Here’s a summary of the main points of the dish. The spices mentioned are the most commonly used, but you’ll find plenty of variation with just a bit of research, and you’re always free to try your own

    1. chickpeas are soaked overnight then ground to a smooth batter with a drizzle of oil and only just enough water to allow the process of liquidizing
    2. spices can be added: try a pinch of fenugreek (dried leaf or seed), another pinch of hing and a quarter teaspoon of turmeric. A scan teaspoon of sugar, honey or maple syrup encourages fermentation and adds a hint of sweetness
    3. the batter is allowed to ferment for 12-36 hours, depending on the ambient temperature
    4. adding a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda at the last minute definitely helps the batter to rise and be fluffy
    5. the batter is steamed for 15-25 minutes in a cake tin of your choice, covered with a tea towel to stop water dripping onto your cake
    6. once done splash on some water with your fingers while still hot – this prevents the dhokla from feeling claggy and sticking to the throat
    7. cut the dhokla into squares with a sharp, wetted knive
    8. a tarka (aromatic oil) is prepared by popping black mustard seeds in hot oil, along with half a teaspoon of whole cumin, a pinch of hing, a handful or curry leaves, fresh or dry, and a couple of dry red chillies or some red chilli powder to your taste
    9. the hot tarka is poured over the still hot dhokla
    10. enjoy dhokla warm or cold as a snack or starter with some coconut, date-tamarind or other sweet-cour chutneys: try pommegranite-molasses with agave nectar and grapefruit. Be inventive. Have fun!

    Khaman dhokla

    A steamed savoury fermented-chickpea cake from Gujarat, India
    Course any, Appetizer, Side Dish, Snack
    Cuisine Gujarati, Indian
    Keyword cake, chickpeas, fermented, pro-biotic, pudding, pulses, snack, steamed, vegan
    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 20 minutes
    fermentation 1 day
    Total Time 1 day 40 minutes
    Servings 6

    Equipment

    • a round or square cake tin
    • a steamer with a well fitting lid

    Ingredients

    Dhokla Batter

    • 1 cup dried chickpeas soaked overnight
    • 1 pinch fenugreek (seed or dried herb)
    • 1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
    • 1/4 tsp turmeric
    • 1 level tsp sugar
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (optional)

    Tadka (tempered oil)

    • 3-4 tbsp neutral oil with a high smoking point
    • 1 tsp black mustard seeds
    • 1/2 tsp whole cumin
    • 1 pinch hing
    • 1 handful curry leaves (10 – 15)
    • 2 whole red chillies, roughly torn
    • ground chilli powder to taste (optional)

    Instructions

    Batter

    • stir in the turmeric, fenugreek, hing (if using), sugar and salt
    • transfer to a covered non-metal bowl and leave in a warm place for 12-36 hours, depending on the time of year, to ferment
    • The fermented mixture should be quite fluffy and pleasantly sharp to taste

    Steaming

    • Prepare a steamer or put a trivet or saucer in a pan with water and bring to the boil
    • Oil a square or round cake tin
    • Add the bicarbonate of soda to the batter and stir lightly so you don;t lose the air (CO2)
    • Put the batter in the cake tin, place in the steamer and cover with a well fitting lid
    • Covering the pan with a teatowel will prevent water from dripping on your dhokla, but this is optional
    • steam on a low flame for about 20 minutes
    • Remove from the steamer and immediately splash on some water. This stops the dhokla from sticking in the throat

    Make The Tadka

    • Heat the oil in a small pan
    • Add the chillies and allow to just darken. Follow with the mustard seeds until they begin to pop, then add the cumin and curry leaves, letting them sizzle for a few seconds. Finally add the hing and extra chilli powder to taste. Remove from the flame immediately
    • sprinkle the hot tadka over the still warm dhokla
    • allow to cool and enjoy with a sweet chutney such as tamarind and date sauce, or coconut-green chilli and corander chutney
    Rest And Digest With Yoga Nidra

    Rest And Digest With Yoga Nidra

    Nidra

    A Sanskrit term literally meaning “yoga sleep”, the sleep of the yogi is both a practice and a state of consciousness. Nidra is a bordeline state between waking and sleep where you can deeply relax while remaining fully conscious.

    The practice is thought to be as ancient as yoga itself with references to nidra found in the earliest yoga scriptures. The modern practice of yoga nidra, however, was revived by Swami Satyananda, founder of the Bihar School, with some practices possibly influenced by ideas from Western psychology and psycho-somatics

    There are as many nidras as there are reasons for practising. And different schools of nidra exhibit varying approaches and applications. To experience the psycho-somatic healing discussed in the previous post here is the simplest of nidra practices to help you just rest and digest

    Audio: De-stress with yoga nidra

    Gluten-free Vegan Oat Flour Pancakes

    Gluten-free Vegan Oat Flour Pancakes

    Oat Flour Pancakes

    As a type 2 diabetic I like to avoid the insulin spike you get from some starchy foods, essentially flooding your bloodstream with glucose to be flushed out (in poorly controlled diabetes) or stored as fat for a rainy day

    AKA oat hotcakes, these pancakes are fluffy, light, really quick to make and satisfying. They can be sweet or savoury, or a mixture of the two, depending on what topping or accompaniment you’re planning to use

    They’re great at any time of day. I like them for breakfast because they’re so hassle-free to make. I mean, who wants to start the day cooking even before breakfast?!

    Glycaemic Index Of Oats

    The rate at which starch and other carbohydrates enter your blood stream as glucose is known as the glycaemic index, scaled from 0 – 100 and conveniently divided into three categories.

    Foods with a lower glycaemic index are healthier as they release glucose into your blood stream more gradually to keep you feeling full for longer

    GLYCAEMIC INDEX
    High
    Medium
    Low
    VALUE
    70 or above
    56 - 69
    55 or less

    The glycaemic index of unprocessed oats averages 58 putting it at the lower end of the medium category. Compare this with instant porridge oats which have a whopping 83 glycaemic rating!

    Closely related to the glycaemic index is the glycaemic load. This is the total amount of carbohydrate you absorb and is related to the quantity of food you eat. I’ll talk about glycaemic load in later posts

    Meanwhile check out the glycaemic index and glycaemic load of 100 common foodstuffs according to Harvard Health

    Soluble Fibre

    Oats are rich in soluble fibre

    Soluble fibre binds with water to form a gel which slows down digestion helping to

    • regulate your weight by keeping you full for longer
    • regulate blood sugar (see glycaemic index)
    • reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol to help prevent heart disease

    Other Nutritional Details

    Oats are rich in protein, low in sugar and fat and have a high fibre content, much of which is soluble (see above)

    Half a cup of dry oats provides

    • Manganese: 191% of the RDI
    • Phosphorus: 41% of the RDI
    • Magnesium: 34% of the RDI
    • Copper: 24% of the RDI
    • Iron: 20% of the RDI
    • Zinc: 20% of the RDI
    • Folate: 11% of the RDI
    • Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 39% of the RDI
    • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 10% of the RDI

    At a modest 300 calories

    Oat Flour: Buy It Or Make Your own?

    This partly depends on where you live. After a lifetime of living in London UK I’ve relocated to a small and very charming Spanish City of 9.5k inhabitants. Not quite a village, but where is Wholefoods or Planet Organic?

    Fortunately oats are readily available and of all the non-wheat flours oats are by far the easiest to mill. Did I not say? We’re in Trujillo. Check us out. We’re on Google maps – just about

    Oat Flour Recipe

    Take some oats, put them in a coffee grinder, pulse for a few seconds et voila!

    More To Oats Than Porridge

    Tasty as it is there’s so much more to oats than porridge. Here’s the first of hopefully many non-porridge oat recipes. Great for breakfast, lunch, tea and supper: oat flour pancakes. Here’s the recipe

    Gluten-Free Oatmeal Hotcakes

    Gluten free oatmeal hotcakes great at any time of the day
    Course any
    Cuisine Worldwide
    Keyword gluten-free, grains, oats, pancakes, vegan option
    Prep Time 5 minutes
    Cook Time 10 minutes

    Equipment

    • any heavy based pan or skillet

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup oat flour oat flour can be made really easily by milling oats in a coffe or spice grinder for a few seconds
    • 1 small pot yoghurt or keffir dairy or vegan, eg soy or coconut
    • 1 egg (optional)
    • 1/2 tsp salt (optional)
    • 1 tsp sugar of stevia (optional)
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • milk or water dairy or vegan

    Instructions

    • mix all the wet ingredients in a bowl
    • incorporate in the oat flour and other dry ingredients to obtain a creamy consistency
    • rest for five minutes. Oats soak a lot of fluid and the mixture becomes much stiffer. Adjust the consistency to a thick pouring cream by adding more liquid or flour
    • add spoonfuls of the batter to a medium hot skillet greased with a little oil or butter
    • after a 2-3 minutes when the top is partially cooked flip them over and cook for a further minute or so
    • serve them warm or at room temperature with your favourite sweet or savoury sides and toppings

    Notes

    I love these for Sunday brunch with a couple of poached eggs, griddled oyster mushrooms and my homemade "baked" pinto beans with Korean gochujang