How Chronic Stress Affects Your Gut Health

February 8, 2024

How Chronic Stress Affects Your Gut Health
1:53 reading time

In our fast-paced world, stress has become a constant companion for many, wreaking havoc on our mental and physical well-being. One often overlooked casualty of chronic stress is our gut health. The gut, often called the “second brain,” plays a crucial role in our overall health, and its delicate balance can be easily disrupted by persistent stress.

When stress becomes chronic, the body’s fight-or-flight response is triggered, releasing hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones, meant to prepare the body for immediate action, can adversely impact the digestive system when present in excess. Chronic stress may lead to inflammation in the gut, compromising the integrity of the intestinal barrier, which could cause us to be more susceptible to infection and food sensitivity reactions.

The gut houses trillions of bacteria that contribute to digestion, vitamin synthesis, neurotransmitter production, and more. Chronic stress can disrupt this microbial balance, leading to an overgrowth of opportunistic bacteria that crowd out the beneficial ones. This imbalance, known as dysbiosis, is associated with various digestive issues, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and poor digestion.

Moreover, stress can influence the movement of the digestive tract by slowing down our digestive function, causing symptoms like bloating, constipation, or diarrhea. The gut-brain axis, a bidirectional communication network between the gut and the brain, further exacerbates the issue. Stress signals can impact the brain, triggering gut symptoms and vice versa.

In summary, chronic stress impacts gut health by promoting inflammation, disrupting the microbial balance, and affecting the gut-brain axis. Recognizing this connection is vital for overall well-being, as a healthy gut is linked to improved immunity, better mood, enhanced nutrient absorption, and reduced risk of chronic disease. Check back with us soon for tips on nervous system regulation and how to minimize the negative impacts of chronic stress on the body.

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Posted by Keria Kroin, MS, CSNc  

Keira is a functional nutritionist and herbal medicine practitioner. Her approach revolves around assessing an individual holistically to determine the potential root causes of disease. Keira emphasizes the integration between physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. 

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Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

This article is for informational and educational use only and should not be considered a substitute for medical advice. Consult your health and wellness provider for more information.