Oh My Gut!
Laura Dotson, MS-MPH, CWC
December 17, 2020

Let’s talk about stress baby, let's talk about you & your gut, let's talk about all the good things & the bad things stress may bring… let’s talk about stress!

We know stress is bad for us! But do you really know why stress is so bad for your gut?

Stress Slows Down Digestion
When we experience long term stress our digestion slows down due to the parasympathetic nervous system (PSNS) commonly known as the “rest & digest” system. Blood is diverted away from the GI tract towards our muscles & brain preparing for “fight or flight.” It also stops digestive enzymes, which are needed to break down food so we can absorb nutrients in the small intestines. As well as, reduced stomach acid secretion which is needed to lower the pH in the stomach to kill bacteria & trigger the release of pepsin to digest protein.

Consequences of Long Term Stress on Gut Health
Increased belly fat - due to excess cortisol being released.
Increased risk for food intolerances & allergies - due to excess release of histamines.  
Increased blood sugar - due to cortisol preventing the body from producing insulin, resulting in too much glucose in the blood.
Decreased immunity - due to a decrease of lymphocytes (white blood cells) which help fight off infection.
Increased risk for Leaky Gut, SIBO & IBS. All of which can impact nutrient absorption, mood & sleep.

Practical ways to destress & improve your gut health:

Just Breath Babe

Breathing exercises have been shown to activate the parasympathetic response in the body, reduce anxiety, control your response to anger & promote better sleep. Try the 4-7-8 technique.  
Start by exhaling to empty the lungs of air
Then breath in the nose for 4 counts
Hold your breath for 7 counts
Exhale through the mouth 8 counts
Continue for 5-10 times.

Get outdoorsy

Were not saying go hike the PCT. But between all your zoom meetings take 15 minutes each day to get some fresh air & vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D not only assists with nutrient absorption it’s also vital in supporting the maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome.

Be Kind to Yourself

Our body’s hear what we say to ourselves… even if we don’t say it ;. Feed your body with support. Practice gratitude for the things you have & not focusing on the things you don’t. An easy way to start is by taking post-it notes & placing positive affirmations about yourself & what you’re grateful on your mirror or desk to read daily.

Get some Zzz’s

We can not ‘run the world’ Beyonce style if we are not functioning on all cylinders. Poor sleep decreases our gut microbiome putting us at risk for getting sick, slowing down our metabolism & disrupting our appetite causing an increase in food cravings. To help you get more rest - create a bedtime routine. Set an alarm on your phone to prepare for bed. Turn off electronics, write down your to-do-list, relax your muscles with foam rolling or light stretching, wash your face, brush your teeth or try essential oils such as Lavender or Cedarwood on your temple & wrist.

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