How Stress Really Trashes Your Gut?
Have you ever had butterflies in your stomach when you were nervous?
What about a “gut feeling” that something wasn’t right?
You are lucky, YES I said lucky to have signals that you can connect your external experience with an internal experience and link it together.
You might be thinking that it’s your curse but it’s a blessing in disguise as you are noticing the effects of stress on your gut.
For many chronic gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, and acid reflux are signs of stress reaping havoc on their gut.
Unfortunately, all of those symptoms have been thrown into a bucket diagnosis of IBS aka irritable bowel syndrome.
Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms are all signs the gut gives you that it’s feeling the effects of stress.
When you produce excessive cortisol your autonomic nervous system diverts blood away from the gut lining and instead drives it toward your muscles and heart to prepare you to run away from a predator.
There’s no time to digest food in fight or flight mode.
Sadly, when you are stressed your body thinks you are preparing for battle and needing to travel a long distance to escape this predator.
When you don’t escape the predator aka stressor – the cycle continues with more cortisol being sent into the system.
Excessive cortisol can trash the gut in the following ways:
Disrupt the balance of your microbiome (your good gut bugs) leading to overgrowth of yeast and non-beneficial bacteria that cause gas, bloating, diarrhea & constipation
Trigger you to eat fast and overeat causing larger molecules of food that are hard to digest to sit in the gut longer thus irritating the gut lining and causing microbiome disruption
Trigger you to overeat processed sweet, salty, fatty, carb dense foods that further disrupt the gut microbiome
- Cause excessive histamine production within the gut lining leading to intestinal permeability – aka “leaky gut” – where molecules of food get across the gut lining, into the blood stream and cause immune reactions
“leaky gut” leads to food sensitivities
- Gut motility issues – slowing down or speeding up of the bowels
Most gut conditions are a direct result of poor stress management.
It’s not coincidence that both divisions of your autonomic nervous system run on either side of your gut.
Your gut has direct communication with your fight or flight (sympathetic) and your rest and digest (parasympathetic) nerves.
Unfortunately, those who are stressed rarely operate in rest and digest mode leaving their gut lacking what it needs to truly repair itself.
And this is why SIBO (small intestine bowel overgrowth), & candida (gut yeast infections) are hard to treat.
Since your gut is truly your first brain and your brain the 2nd brain it’s key to talk about the Gut Brain Axis as how you navigate the world of stress.
If you are not connected to your gut feelings your gut will give you symptoms to elicit a connection.
In order to effectively manage stress it’s key to reduce stress on the gut level.
- Here’s a list of the following things to take into consideration to reduce gut stress:
- Eat simply and closest to nature
- Consume meats, poultry & eggs that are pasture raised
- Consume wild caught fish from cold waters
- Do not stuff yourself
- Chew at least 25 times per bite
- Experience your meals – sit down & do nothing but eat – do not inhale them on the go or standing at the kitchen sink
- Limit alcohol
- Limit sugar, processed foods, fried chips & junk food – if you can’t pronounce what’s on the label or there are more than 5 non-whole food items in a product it’s best to not eat it
- Maintain your oral microbiome – if your gums are not healthy you gut will not be healthy – use microbiome balancing toothpaste like Oral
- Essentials, stop conventional mouth wash
- Sprout or buy sprouted grains, legumes, nuts and seeds as they are easier to digest
- Pressure cook grains and legumes for added ease of digestion
- Sauté, blanch, steam or stir fry the majority of your veggies to ease digestion – raw veggies are hard to digest
- Rotate your foods by not eating the same thing every week
- Eat all meals before 7p to ensure proper digestion
- Allow at least 12 hours between dinner and breakfast so the gut and the mitochondria can catch up on their processing of foods
- When you start eating for the day eat meals at least 3-4 hours apart – try to avoid grazing and snacking
While the list I have provided might seem overwhelming, with time these habits can be incorporated easily into your routine.
The less you trash your gut the less you will see the effects of stress on your body.
Your gut communicates with your brain all the time and when you are good to your gut you are going to see the benefits to the brain.
Start working on your routine right now and let’s get you started to keeping your stress in check so it doesn’t trash your gut!
Want to learn more about how stress affects your body? Check out my podcast on this very topic – https://doctorjkrausend.com/stress-to-your-body/
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