How Stress Can Negatively Impact Your Gut Health

When you’re stressed, how does this affect you mentally and physically? Have you ever been feeling super stressed out followed by a stomach ache? Turns out there’s actually a biological reason for that. Our brain and our gut are hugely connected meaning anything that affects your brain is more likely than not going to impact your gut too! Read on to learn more about the brain-gut connection.

How it Works

One of the main reasons stress impacts our gut is because of the stress hormone known as cortisol. When our bodies are in a state of stress they begin to secrete large amounts of cortisol which goes on to have negative effects to our gut microbiome. This is caused by a bacterial imbalance. Having an imbalance of “good” and “bad” bacteria in your gut can be harmful overtime. Additionally, your gastrointestinal system is home to your enteric nervous system which contributes to the “gut-brain axis”, or simply the connection between your brain and gut. This gut brain axis can send signals to your brain from your gut and send signals from your gut to your brain.

In simple terms: negative effects to your brain=negative effects to your gut.

What to do About it?

The two most obvious answers would be to both reduce stress and improve gut health, but of course this is easier said than done. Going for walks, journaling and meditation are all ways to improve stress. Getting enough sleep and regular exercise are also proven remedies since regular exercise and adequate sleep can both help to regulate your body’s cortisol levels resulting in less of an impact on your gut microbiome. Nourishing your body and eating for improved gut health are also great ideas!

Foods to Eat for a Healthy Gut

Foods rich in pre and probiotics are most beneficial for gut health. Prebiotics are found in fiber rich foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains while probiotics are found in fermented foods like yogurt, miso, tempeh and kombucha. Lastly, one of the best ways to improve gut health is to eat a diet with a lot of variety! Especially with a large variety of plant based foods. Eating the rainbow is never a bad idea!

Self care does not just involve a healthy diet and exercise, but also taking care of your mind and prioritizing your mental health. Too much stress does a lot of harm on the body, and a lot of harm for the gut, so make sure to work towards minimizing it for a healthier you.

If you’re concerned about your gut health and want to learn to eat for a better gut, sign up for our self-paced 4 week nutrition course now! In this course, you’ll learn the basics of nutrition, identify what’s not working, and create a plan to move forward with your health goals. You can learn more about our self-paced Your Nourished Route program here.

This article was written by Lindsey Moser, nutrition intern. Fact checked by Allison Tallman RD.

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