Gut and Stress Link

If I had to pick just two main causes of gut issues, I would pick food and stress. Food is not just the food we eat, but also how we break the food down and how well we absorb it.

Yet stress can affect what we eat and utilise our food as well as our overall gut health. Considering today's lifestyle of chronic busyness, short deadlines and constant contact via email and social media, stress is a major consideration for all my clients.

Stress affects our gut health in two ways:

1) Impacts the function of the gut by acting on gut motility, inflammation, permeability and perception of pain to name a few.

2) Affects the balance of the healthy bacteria in our gut thereby allowing unhealthy and pathogenic bacteria to increase in population

So now that we appreciate the link between stress and your gut health, here are some ways to increase your stress resilience and therefore gut health:

Get outside

Breath in the fresh air, look at the sky, not the screen and breathe deeply, all of which can help reduce stress

Learn to say no

Whether it be a case of FOMO or peer pressure, learn to do what needs to be done, not what should be done.

If you can't change it, then accept it with grace

Our mindset is a big factor in stress. Watch your self-talk and be accepting when appropriate.

Move your body

Exercise is a great stress reliever. Be careful though as overtraining, especially when chronically stressed, can actually add to your stress levels. 

Sleep well

Insufficient and poor-quality sleep are stressors for the body and mind. If you wake feeling not less than refreshed most mornings, then you should look at ways to improve your sleep and therefore decrease your stress

Ask for help.

Stress can have a huge impact on not just our gut health but our overall physical, emotional and mental health. A supportive chat with a friend or maybe a visit to a counsellor or coach may be just that bit of help you need to decrease your stress and improving your gut health as well.  

Sara Knight