Research has linked high levels of stress to autoimmune diseases, heart disease, ulcers, diabetes, hormonal imbalances, and countless other chronic health conditions.

However, even knowing this research, both physicians and patients tend to focus more on the physical causes of disease than on the physical and mental stressors that often affect health.

There are more and more people with stress as the main cause of their autoimmune and other chronic diseases, and it is not just adults, but more children who suffer from stress-related health problems.

There are several factors that cause stress to negatively affect your health. Stress can trigger or worsen an autoimmune disease due to its effect on your immune system.

But, high levels of stress can also damage your intestine , which, as you already know, is one of the main responsible for health, which if not taken care of can cause a lot of problems. In this article, we will see how stress can affect your gut.

How stress damages your gut

The brain and digestive system actually share a two-way connection, so not only is the health of your gut capable of affecting your state of mind, but your state of mind also affects how your gut works. Let’s take a closer look at how this connection works.

Your body’s response to stress

When you experience any type of stress , be it physical (hitting the brakes hard), emotional (experiencing a heartbreak) or mental (overload at work), your body processes it in the same way through the adrenal glands.

The adrenal glands respond by creating a flood of stress hormones, including cortisol,

they affect both your digestive system and your immune system (of which 80% is in your intestine).

Our response to stress evolved primarily as a means of self-preservation for our ancestors who faced immediate and life-threatening situations. Unfortunately, this answer is not the most ideal for the type of chronic and ongoing stress that we face today .

The problem of chronic stress

On the one hand, the cortisol produced by the adrenal glands, speeds up the immune system, which is highly inflammatory. This would be beneficial if you have an open wound and need inflammation to fight infection.

But it is less helpful and even harmful, if you are alone you are chronically stressed because you work 80 hours a week or your marriage is in jeopardy. Maintaining a high level of inflammation is dangerous because it puts you on the autoimmune spectrum and, if you continue like this for a long time, it can trigger an autoimmune disease.

Your body actually recognizes this, so it suppresses your immune system after a cortisol spike, leaving it 40% to 70% below baseline, to balance out all the inflammation that was initially caused.

When you experience acute stress, such as during a bear attack or the flu, a natural short-term inflammatory response is exactly what you want to temporarily boost your immune system and give you energy to escape or immune cells to fight the flu.

However, in today’s world, we all experience more chronic and long-term stress , always being available on our electronics, having long work hours, and over-committing ourselves.

We refrain from turning off and unplugging, instead giving our bodies a chance to rest and recover.

As a result, the body continually goes through periods of high inflammation, which can damage the intestinal lining, and weaken the immune system, leaving the intestine vulnerable to pathogens you might be ingesting.

Also, when your stress response kicks in , your digestive system shuts down. If you’re running from a predator, you need a concentrated blood flow to your limbs to run and your brain to solve problems, not your gut to digest your lunch.

How this affects your health

In this vulnerable state, when the digestive system has been suppressed to shutdown, and your immune system weakens, harmful bacteria can multiply uncontrollably.

The digestive system is temporarily unable to fight bad bacteria by producing enough good bacteria to fight them, which can lead to imbalances in the intestinal flora.

Also, a shortage of good bacteria and an excess of yeast or bad bacteria can cause you to experience more stress because more than 95% of your serotonin (the neurotransmitter that regulates mood, well-being and sleep) is produced in the gut. , and this production slows down when you have to deal with an overgrowth of yeast, a parasite or other intestinal problems.

How to fight stress and have a healthy gut

In today’s society, crammed with endless deadlines and demands, and the nagging feeling that you could be getting more done, it can be difficult to avoid stress.

The key to managing stress and preventing it from having negative effects on your health is learning the tools to overcome a stressful situation after it is over.

Let’s be clear on something: there is no definitive way to relax and relieve stress. Everyone handles their stress differently , so don’t beat yourself up for trying to stick to the perfect de-stressing routine.

The important thing is to find something that works for you personally, whether it’s doing yoga, going for a run, spending time with your family, spending time alone, gardening, going to church, or any other activity.

Here are some good de-stressing tips

Sensory Deprivation Tank Floatation Session: Sensory Deprivation Tanks provide a soundless and lightless environment with a shallow pool of water containing approximately 450 kilograms of dissolved epsom salt.

The high concentration of epsom salt allows you to float effortlessly, and the temperature is the same as your skin, so you can’t even feel the water around you. The effect is a weightless sensation of floating in complete darkness and silence, which reduces your cortisol levels, relieves muscle aches and allows you to go 60-90 minutes without any stimulation.

Infrared Sauna Therapy: Spending time in an infrared sauna has many health benefits, including stress relief and detoxification. You can get one to have at home, or you can also get treatments at natural spas.

Going on an excursion with your family: Spending time in nature with your family can be both relaxing and restorative, it also allows you to have more quality time with the people important to you and have a closer relationship.

Take a relaxing bath with homemade bath salts: To pamper yourself and relax a little more, make your own Lavender Love bath salts, Epsom salt is perfect for sore and stiff muscles, and the soothing scent will relieve all accumulated stress from your day.

Exercising: When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins. These endorphins interact with receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. Endorphins also trigger a positive feeling in the body, similar to that of morphine, generating well-being.

Dr. Eric Jackson

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses. He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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