Many things occur in the gut, millions. If you haven’t paid a visit yet to our GR8 stash of all things gut health, that was a cheap “gut” pun about the millions of bacteria that are housed in the gut. Your gut bacteria are responsible for almost everything related to your overall wellness. One connection that can be troublesome to deal with, and cope with? Stress.
How Stress Relates to the Gut
The way that stress and a person’s gut are related is somewhat of a cycle. It’s more recursive than anything, which is why it can become such a complicated issue to address and alleviate.
The cycle can begin on either end. Stress can affect the digestive system adversely, and the digestive system can signal the brain in particular ways that can breed stress.
The Stress-Gut Cycle
The brain-gut axis explains it, otherwise understood as the connection that involves communicative cues from both systems. The digestive and central nervous systems work in tandem, influencing one another. This is where the health of our gut comes in.
Think of it this way: You can have two working cell phones, but if one is getting bad reception—it might ruin a call. The connectivity between the gut and the brain is the same.
The Gut Health Connection to Our Mental Health
In further consideration of the relationship between gut and mind, we can observe its relationship with other mental effects such as anxiety. Poor gut health is linked to depression and other mental complications.
Factors like diet and side effects of emotional turmoil affect the gut and can cause the release of the stress hormone cortisol. When the brain-gut axis shows imbalances, this is a common effect—triggering the system that produces cortisol, known as the HPA axis.
How to Release the Stress You’re Harboring
Because of the connection that can begin with either stress or within the gut, addressing it is similar. Taking action against stress can benefit the function of your gut, and taking steps to improve gut health can limit stress. That said, you have options to tackle both issues.
Look into Probiotics
Start from the inside out. Probiotics are an effective way to influence your gut positively. They can provide balance to the microbiota (the millions of bacteria) in your gut by helping to repopulate the beneficial kind.
Ask about Neurotherapy
Neurotherapy involves studying and working with the brain to optimize its function. The goal of Neurotherapy is to influence the wiring, and existing conditioning of your mental systems to promote or prevent a behavior. The promise is being able to cope with specific triggers through re-assigning the result of what they stimulate.
Make Diet Changes
Changes to the diet may be able to assist with stress. Having a diet that is diverse, rich in nutrients, and ridden of processed foods and toxins promotes overall wellness. This extends to both the digestive system and one’s tendency to stress. Foods that are in-ideal for the body can cause things like inflammation, which can cause irritability and mood imbalances.
Meditation is a powerful tool that can be therapeutic and relaxing. Pure relaxation and freedom of internal burden help to relax the body and calm the digestive system, limiting the tendency to release cortisol.
Overall, self care be it about the physical body, mental health, relaxation, or enjoyment, is a gift to your gut. It can help to relieve tension kept in the body and mind, similar to meditation. It’s a powerful antidote to stress that can evolve as what triggers you to stress changes.
There’s a lot we don’t know about gut health and stress. But, one thing is for sure: managing both is vital for your health. If you feel that you’re struggling with physical or emotional symptoms of stress, never hesitate to reach out to a mental health professional.