You’re not the only one that can sense stress. The bacteria living in your body can too! Stress signals to bacteria that you are weak and that it is time invade.
Too Much Stress Injures the Gut
Chronic stress can actually decrease the amount of good bacteria found in the gut. This provides an open invitation for opportunistic bacteria to invade to cause inflammation, infection, and Candida overgrowth.
When we experience too much stress, the immune system stops working like we want it to.
The prolonged release of stress hormones day after day can make us more vulnerable to infection. For those who have an autoimmune disease, too much stress can cause the immune system to flare up, making disease symptoms worse.
This is not the only bad news.
Too much stress can also make our digestion sluggish. It can inflame the gut. And it can prompt the wild growth of bacteria. Add all of this to a poorly regulated immune system, and you’ve got the perfect storm for disease.
1. Stress Shuts Down Digestive Function.
The fight-or-flight response naturally slows or shuts down digestive function.
This isn’t some flaw in our design. The fight-or-flight response conserves energy by shutting down unnecessary functions (like digestion) in the body. At the same time, functions that may save our life are enhanced.
Because stress hormones shut down digestive function, this can lead to undigested food rotting in the gut, which feeds Candida and other opportunistic organisms.
Someone who is chronically stressed may have heartburn, constipation, or simply no appetite.
2. Stress Causes a Leaky Gut.
The lining of the gastrointestinal tract is thin and delicate. When it comes to absorbing the nutrients from food, this is a good thing. The problem with this thin and delicate tissue is that it is susceptible to irritation. Once this tissue becomes irritated and inflamed, it becomes leaky. (1)
Leaky gut is exactly as it sounds. It is a condition where the gut “leaks” and allows too much into the bloodstream. This could be large food particles, bacteria or toxins from bacteria, or even the yeast Candida.
Leaky gut can also generate more stress and toxins within the body. This leads to more leaky gut; it is a vicious cycle.
3. Stress Signals to Bacteria to Invade.
If you think that you are alone in your body, think again. While it may sound like science fiction, research now tells us that the bugs in the body can understand and respond to the chemical signals that we send to and fro.
The body uses hormones and neurotransmitters as a type of language to communicate what needs to be done. It turns out that bacteria know what these chemical messages mean. Not only that, but they have also learned how to use our weakness to their advantage.
Bacteria have evolved with us over time. As our diet and environment have changed, they have too. And bacteria are smart. They adapt quickly. During the fight-or-flight response, we produce stress hormones that tell the disease-causing bugs in the body to grow. The ability of bacteria to respond to our hormones helps to ensure their survival.
Other studies have found that stress alters the number of good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. Stress has been found to decrease the number of good bacteria, making the body more susceptible to infection, inflammation, and Candida overgrowth.
6 Tips for the Best Ways to Manage Your Stress
1. Cultivate Mindfulness.
The number one way to minimize the fight-or-flight response in the body is to manage stress. This doesn’t mean that you need to reduce stress. It means that you could manage your perception of stress and still make a big difference.
This is because stress is largely perceived.
Those who meditate and make a point of cultivating inner peace are also cultivating health and longevity. If you want to get rid of stress, running away from life will not offer many solutions. Changing how you perceive life will.
Other ways to balance the harmful effects that stress has in the body is to support yourself where you feel it most: in your gut. Chronic stress shuts down digestive function, weighs down the immune system, makes the gut leaky, and speeds up the growth of unfriendly bacteria.
2. Take Digestive Enzymes.
These enzymes stoke our digestive fire and prevent things like heartburn, constipation, and poor appetite. By digesting foods more completely, especially in the small intestine, we have the proper nutrition available to support our adrenals. Assist SI was designed to maximize digestion in the small intestine.
3. Boost Probiotic Numbers.
By simply eating fermented foods every day, we can balance the inner ecosystem of the gastrointestinal tract. Good bacteria support the immune system and can help to repair a leaky gut.
Fermented foods are also easy to assimilate and even contain their own enzymes, which contribute to healthy digestion. Mix a few ounces of InnergyBiotic into a small amount of black currant juice with some stevia at 3-4 pm to give those adrenals a late afternoon boost.
4. Feed Those Adrenals.
5. Try Ayurvedic Herbs.
In a pinch, try Holy Basil and Ashwagandha – both well researched in their ability to help balance the release of stress hormones and the fight-or-flight response.
6. Heal the gut – Amanda’s personal recommendation:
Include a glutamine supplement to help repair and strengthen the gut – as discussed above, stress and candida can lead to leaky gut which impairs your body’s ability to digest anything properly, and increases toxicity in the blood, leaving you nutrient deplete and – well – toxic. In my own personal experience I used a fantastic supplement called NutraLife Gut Relief. I took it every day for about 3 months and really helped heal my gut lining, I was able to digest food again without any reactions whatsoever – stress free digestion!
The majority of this article is from BodyEcology.com. Please browse the website and perhaps choose to start with some of the suggested products above, as we all suffer from various levels of stress in our lives and nourishing our gut with good bacteria, minerals, enzymes and fermented foods during these times is necessary to replenish and heal the gut during times of stress. If you wish to order any Body Ecology products in Australia please do so via the Your Digestion website (based in Sydney).