First Thing’s First: Get to Know Your Gut
As the epicenter of your body, your gut is home to trillions of microbes that all work in harmony with your body’s cells to keep you thriving.
In fact, 80% of your immune system lives within the inner ecosystem of the gut, affecting almost every aspect of how you feel each day.
When your gut is healthy, it contains a solid balance of about 85% good guys and 15% bad guys.
The good bacteria in your body work to keep you both feeling and functioning at your best by:
- Supporting your immune system
- Digesting your food
- Supporting mental clarity
- Promoting nutrient absorption
- Balancing your hormones
- Normalizing glucose levels
- Supporting a healthy gut barrier
- Regulating inflammation
- Warding off pathogens and disease-causing microbes
However, many aspects of everyday life can deplete your good bacteria without you even knowing, like highly processed food, antibiotics (both as medicine and in our food supply), everyday hygiene habits, toxins in the environment, the natural aging process, and as we’ve mentioned above, ongoing stress.
How Stress Hurts Your Gut and Your Health
Put simply, when you’re experiencing elevated stress levels, your brain goes into flight-or-fight mode, which can impact the blood flow to your gut. This is why it’s common to experience a lull in digestive and immune health in tandem with episodes of heightened stress.
Interestingly, one of the key services your bacteria provide is helping to signal the proper response to the brain to cope with elevated “stressors” so that they don’t affect the rest of the body.
But when compounded over time, chronic, long-term stress can erode the good guys put in place to protect you from the effects of…you guessed it, stress.
Here are some wonderful articles on todays topic of ‘Is Stress Affecting your Physical Health?’ The answer is YES!
“Research has linked high levels of stress with autoimmune disease, heart disease, ulcers, diabetes, hormone imbalances, and countless other chronic health conditions. However, even knowing this research, doctors and patients alike still tend to focus more on the physical causes of disease rather than the physical and mental stressors that are often impacting their health.
The truth is that I’m seeing more and more patients with stress as a primary cause of their autoimmune and other chronic diseases, and it’s not just adults!” – Dr. Amy Myers
“It’s a struggle for all of us at one time or another, but did you know that recurrent stress — the heightened sense of urgency, anxiety, fear, or even adrenaline that is often present in our fast-paced, modern lives — can literally chip away at the foundation of your health and affect your long-term wellness?” – Jamie Morea, Founder of Hyperbiotics
“According to Wikipedia, Type A individuals are described as ambitious, aggressive, business-like, controlling, highly competitive, impatient, time-conscious, and tightly-wound. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics” who multi-task, push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence.
That doesn’t exactly paint us in a flattering light, does it? I promise, we’re generally more fun than Wikipedia would suggest. The problem is that under the right conditions, Type A drive can morph and grow into something else entirely – an actual stress addiction. And we mean that in the most literal sense of the word.” – whole9life P1
“According to Robert M. Sapolsky, author of Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, in the case of chronic psychological stress, the stress response can become more damaging than the stressor itself. Think of your body’s stress response as short-sighted and inefficient – extremely costly tasks your body must perform to respond effectively in an emergency. (After all, your body’s ‘fight or flight’ response can save your life in an emergency.) The trouble for the stress junkie, however, is that we’re not designed to stay in that mode. And the way we often handle stress – eating sugary, calorie-dense processed foods, staying late at work, exercising too little (or too much) or drinking to excess – makes a bad situation even worse.” – whole9life P2