Stress is a normal part of life, but when it becomes chronic, it can have a negative impact on your overall health and well-being. It plays a huge role in how well (or not so well) your digestive system functions.
Stress can be physical, emotional, or even happen on a chemical level inside your body.
Today, we’ll explore the link between stress and digestion, and how to better manage this gut-brain connection and improve your overall health.
The gut and the brain are closely connected. In fact, the gut is sometimes referred to as the “second brain”.
When we experience stress, our bodies release excess hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones can have a negative impact on the gut, causing a stress response that leads to stomach pain, bloating, constipation or diarrhea.
Chronic stress can also lead to the overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut. This can contribute to conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and drive chronic health conditions like autoimmunity.
By taking steps to reduce stress levels – such as meditation, exercise, getting enough restful sleep, laughing with friends – you can promote good bacteria growth and optimize your gut health, in addition to reducing stress-related physical symptoms.
5 ways to improve the gut brain connection
Nutrient deficiencies in vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D, zinc and magnesium, can contribute to gut-brain imbalances. Blood work and other tests can help you identify nutrient deficiencies so you can target them with food and supplements as needed.
Eat a diet with sufficient fiber (using fruits and vegetables) to feed good healthy bacteria, and choose quality animal protein to help promote healthy digestion. Avoiding processed foods and added sugars can also help to reduce inflammation in the gut.
Address food sensitivities:
Food sensitivities can contribute to gut-brain imbalances. They can cause low energy, brain fog, and even disrupt your sleep. Eliminating the top inflammatory foods like grains (including corn), conventional dairy, soy, alcohol, and processed seed oils are beneficial for improving symptoms.
There are also specialized food sensitivity tests that can help identify foods that may not be pinpointed during an elimination diet. If you need support with testing, you can connect with me here to discuss those options further.
Toxins such as heavy metals, pesticides, and food additives can contribute to gut-brain imbalances. The liver is a big player in detox and has about 200 functions in the body. Using detox as a part of a healthy lifestyle supports the body so it can efficiently release toxins.
Support the gut barrier:
A healthy gut barrier (or intestinal lining) is crucial for maintaining a healthy gut-brain connection. Probiotics, prebiotics, and specific amino acids can support the gut barrier by reducing inflammation.
Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that live in the gut and help to balance the microbiome. Prebiotics are beneficial food for the bacteria. Studies have shown that taking probiotics/prebiotics can help reduce the symptoms of IBS and other digestive disorders.
Identify and address underlying gut infections or imbalances:
Specialized functional medicine testing can be used to identify underlying gut infections or imbalances, such as bacterial overgrowth or low levels of beneficial bacteria. Once identified, these issues can be addressed through targeted approaches such as herbal or antimicrobial therapies.
In addition to internal physical stress, practicing stress-reducing techniques such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can also help to reduce the negative impact of stress on the gut.
Stress (physical, emotional, chemical) can have a significant impact on our digestion and gut health. By understanding the gut-brain connection and taking steps to support the gut through diet, probiotics, and stress-reduction techniques, we can help to reduce the negative impact of stress on our bodies and improve our overall well-being.
Creating a healthy gut microbiome is essential for overall well-being. Go With Your Gut is a comprehensive program that aims to improve health at a cellular level, with the potential to eliminate symptoms that have been present for years.
This program is for you if you’re looking for a long-term solution so you can finally heal.