Gut Health, Health

10 Consequences of Stress on Your Gut

Right now amidst the COVID-19 pandemic stress levels are very high. Some have lost their jobs, some are now working from home, some are trying desperately to find a new sense of normal, and we all are doing the best that we can. I think it is safe to say we have all encountered stress in its many forms this past month and a half, let alone in our lifetime. Stress comes in different forms: psychological, physical, and emotional to name a few. This means that not only is your deadline at work and your thoughts surrounding it causing you stress, but so is the high interval training session you had earlier in the day. Short term stress or acute stress can be beneficial, however, chronic, long-term stress comes with some major complications down the road. Please note when I am talking about stress in this post, I am referring to the chronic kind.

10 Consequences of Chronic Stress on Our Gut

  1. Increased belly fat
  2. Food intolerances and allergies
  3. Leaky gut
  4. Elevated blood sugar levels
  5. Increased inflammation
  6. Altered microbiome
  7. Increased acid reflux, indigestion, GERD, and ulcers
  8. Intensified IBS symptoms
  9. Increased risk of developing SIBO
  10. Lowered immunity

 

Sympathetic Nervous System

This system is our “fight or flight” system. I like to use the analogy of constantly being on the gas pedal. If you were being chased by a tiger, your Sympathetic nervous system would be triggered. When this happens, digestion slows in order to prepare for action. Blood flow goes from organs to the muscles and brain, your digestive track stops producing enzymes, and your stomach is less acidic. After all, if you were being chased by a tiger, you wouldn’t care so much about whether your food is digesting. You would be worried about getting the heck out of dodge. The problem with this is that our body cannot tell the difference between getting chased by a tiger and the deadline we have to meet for work by the end of the week. The responses are the same. Over a period of time, this chronic state of alarm can begin to wreak havoc on our health.

Parasympathetic Nervous System

This system is referred to as our “rest and digest” system. This system controls digestion, sexual arousal, salivation, urination, and defecation. When under stress, this system slows in order to conserve energy. Have you noticed when you get really stressed out that you may begin to feel sick to your stomach? Perhaps your stomach gets in knots or you simply just are no longer hungry. In the case of the analogy from the paragraph above, this system is our brake pedal. We must take a break in order to hit the brakes. We live in a society of go go go. Perhaps now you can see why this may not be the best route to take for health purposes.

 

Top 6 stress relievers

Meditation

  • Strive for mindfulness and simply noticing your thoughts – don’t expect perfection
  • Start slowly…5 minutes a day
  • Increase by 5 minutes every 1-2 weeks
  • Use apps like Headspace or Calm or YouTube videos for guidance

Journaling

  • Journal on successes, hopes, dreams, and goals
  • Try gratitude journaling
  • Focus on the positive

Gentle Yoga

  • Yoga can relieve nervous system tension in muscles and joints
  • Try it right before bed to help your body settle into restful sleep
  • Can utilize online resources

Social Connection

  • Spend time with positive, loving people
  • Focus on genuine friendships
  • For extroverts, create space for regular social activities

Reframe Stressful Situations (thoughts)

  • Use a more positive viewpoint to make stress less damaging
  • Why is this happening FOR me? VS Why is this happening TO me?
  • Embrace your own strength
  • Be aware of thoughts that are not serving you

Go on a “news fast”

  • Avoid news, social media, etc to help reframe stress

2 thoughts on “10 Consequences of Stress on Your Gut”

  1. Very informative post Jess! I’ve let my meditation and journaling practice slide but now that I’m getting back into it, I’m feeling so much more grounded and centered in these times of uncertainty. I might also start trying out relaxing yoga before bed.. great ideas!

    Like

    1. It’s so easy to let these things slide in times like these. Glad to hear you’ve been able to get back into it! Makes such a difference. Let me know how you like the relaxing yoga if you do give it a try. Thanks for taking time out of your day to give this a read! 🙂

      Like

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