STRESS AND ITS IMPACTS ON THE GUT
“I’m so stressed!”
There is no denying the pressure that today’s society puts on us. Whether you’re a high-flying corporate, a hospitality guru or a, just as busy, stay at home Mum - somehow the pressures we face ‘these days’ take much more of a toll on us than they did in days of yore.
Society is different, we are different, the expectations on us are far greater and therefore so are the stresses.
Stress manifests itself in many ways; headaches, neck pain, twitches – the list goes on, but the one that has been most prevalent in MY life, is gut issues. You know that feeling you get it the pit of your stomach when you’ve got a big meeting coming up or an important presentation to nail? Sometimes it is of course, just nerves… but lying beneath that anxiety can be something much more sinister.
In every case in which it has been studied, a leaky gut has been found in every autoimmune disease. There is therefore, speculation that along with a stressful lifestyle, a leaky gut and/or gut dysbiosis (microbial imbalance or maladaptation) may be necessary for all autoimmune diseases to develop.
It has also been found in one of many rodent studies that exposure to social stressors alters the structure of the intestinal microbiota (or gut flora), which plays an integral role in one having an either healthy – or leaky gut. Which certainly lines up with the notion that stress impacts gut health.
But what IS a leaky gut?
Now, a leaky gut is often referred to, but many people are still unaware of what it actually means – so, here it is, in a nutshell: Inside your gut sits food particles, bacteria, bacterial fragments, waste products and toxins. When the lining of the gut is compromised and enterocytes are damaged by prolamins, agglutinins and saponins – essentially, the gut ‘leaks’. Likewise, when tight junctions (when two cell membranes join together to form a virtually impermeable barrier to fluid) are damaged and are caused to ‘open’ (often by zonulin, alcohol, agglutinins, sugar alcohols, cortisol, some infections, some medications and you guessed it - stress), the gut’s lining is at risk. Once tight junctions are open and the lining of the gut has been breached, what crosses the gut barrier and ‘leaks’ into the body, encounters the immune system. Consequently, some foreign substances can enter the blood stream or lymphatic system – which, I think you’ll agree, is not cool. Far from it in fact.
So, what does stress do to the gut barrier and how can you stop it?
Stress can cause an increase in intestinal permeability, a decrease in gut motility, a decrease in mucus production by goblet cells – and a decrease in secretory IgA.
It inhibits digestion (pancreatic enzyme secretion, gall bladder function), decreases intestinal blood flow and alters gut microbiome. Again, not ideal, by any stretch of the imagination.
So, how do you combat it? Have you ever heard the terms ‘stress less’ or ‘take a chill pill, Bill?’ Well, we both know it’s easier said than done – and who the heck is Bill anyway?
Instead, here are a few tips to help ‘calm the farm’ and ultimately protect your gut from the perils of our stress filled schedules;
- Have fun (life’s too short to take things too seriously)
- Get enough sleep
- Take part in light activity
- Get outside and enjoy nature!
- Connect with others
- Reduce stressors like alarm clocks, commutes, deadlines and stressful relationships
- Support Circadian Rhythms (Bright blue light exposure during the day, dim light in evening, go to bed early, relax in the evening etc.)
- Be active – but don’t push yourself too hard to the point where your body is struggling.
- DRINK BONE BROTH REGULARLY
Bone broth can help mend the damage to your gut caused by stress
Along with all of the above, the last point is where I am headed. Nutrient dense bone broth is an immunity booster, it acts as an anti-inflammatory, can improve digestion – and can help seal a leaky guy and repair the damage caused by stress. Broth of Life’s organic dehydrated bone broth jam packs nutrients into our system in a concentrated, easy to consume and easily digestible form. It’s nutrients ‘feed’ and ‘boost’ our gut flora - helping us to combat infection and the impacts that stressors can have on our gut floras structure.
So… Pour yourself a brothee, kick back, relax and remove the stresses of daily life (as much as you can). The combination of a more serene lifestyle and ‘brothee a day’ is bound to help bring your gut’s health back to its former glory… And that feeling in the pit of your stomach? Well, who knows – if you’re stress free enough, it may well never find you again.
*Broth of life does not provide medical advice and recommends that you consult your physician for medical guidance or instruction.
*Individual results may vary.
FURTHER READING:Are You Running On Empty?