We all know that feeling. That tightness in the chest, the racing thoughts, and the sense of impending doom. We call it stress, and for many of us, it has become a normal part of our lives. What you may not know is that stress can also have a major impact on your gut microbiome - and vice versa. In this blog post, we'll explore the relationship between stress and the gut biome, and discuss some ways to help minimise its impact on our mental and physical health.
When we experience stress, our body goes into fight-or-flight mode. This is a natural response that has evolved to help us survive in times of danger. But in today's world, we often find ourselves in a state of chronic stress - and this can have serious consequences for our health.
What is the gut microbiome?
The gut microbiome is a complex ecosystem of trillions of microbes that live in our digestive tract. These microbes play a crucial role in our health, helping to break down food, absorb nutrients, and protect us from harmful bacteria.
Why is the gut microbiome important?
Recent research has shown that the gut microbiome plays a far more important role in our health than we ever knew. It is now believed that the gut microbiome has a significant impact on our mental health, as well as our physical health.
If you love reading research studies you can check these ones out:
- Emotional well-being and gut microbiome profiles by enterotype
- The Human Microbiome and Its Impacts on Health
- The gut microbiome in health and in disease
Factors that affect the gut microbiome
There are many factors that can affect the gut microbiome, including diet, antibiotics, and stress. One of the most significant factors is stress. When we are stressed, our bodies produce cortisol, which has a negative impact on the gut microbiome. Cortisol can kill off beneficial bacteria, allow harmful bacteria to flourish and can also lead to inflammation. This can lead to a number of problems, including:
- Digestive issues
- Immune system problems
- Mood disorders
- Weight gain
When stress affects the gut:
- Gut motility slows down
- Digestion is impaired
- Inflammation increases
What can we do to protect our gut microbiome?
If you're going through a stressful period, it's important to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. Taking steps to protect your gut microbiome can help to reduce the negative impact of stress on your overall health. There are some things you can do to help maintain a healthy gut microbiome:
- Eat a healthy diet making sure it includes lots of fibre
- Take probiotics
- Reduce stress levels
- Consider taking adaptogenic herbs. Adaptogens are a type of herb that have been shown to help reduce stress levels. Some examples of adaptogenic herbs include schisandra berry, panax ginseng, ashwagandha, holy basil, and maca. Containing two adaptogenic herbs, a daily can of Adapt Drinks Relax can definitely help with this!
- Fermented foods are a great way to introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut microbiome. Some examples of fermented foods include yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi
How does the microbiome relate to our mental health?
There is a strong connection between the gut microbiome and the brain. The gut-brain axis is a two-way street, meaning that not only can our mental state affect our gut health, but our gut health can also impact our mental state. Studies have shown that those with poor gut microbiome are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety.
More studies and articles for those who would like to dig a little deeper:
- Gut Microbiome and Depression: How Microbes Affect the Way We Think
- The gut-brain connection
- The role of inflammation and the gut microbiome in depression and anxiety
So when you start to feel stress increasing, remember that it is not only affecting how your feeling but your gut too which can have a knock on effect, so take some steps to protect your gut microbiome.