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  • Writer's pictureDr. Dooreck with Zoeya Gordon

Gut Health and Stress

Updated: Jul 24, 2023


Healthy foods feed the gut-brain axis, health, microbiome, gastrointestinal gi system for you and the gastroenterology doctor
The link between the brain and the gut can be disrupted by stress, which can negatively affect gut health.

What is the gut-brain connection?


The gut-brain connection, the gut-brain axis (GBA), refers to the interrelationship between the gastrointestinal tract and the central nervous system. Recent scientific studies have revealed that the connection between the two is complex and bidirectional, meaning that the gut can influence the brain and vice versa.


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According to Harvard Health Publishing, the brain directly affects our stomach. In the same way, our intestines can send signals to our brains.

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The gut possesses its nervous system.


The gut contains its nervous system, called the enteric nervous system, which sends signals to the brain. This system regulates various functions such as digestion, immune system response, and nutrient absorption.

What hormones are involved?

Around 90% of the body's serotonin, a neurotransmitter that affects mood, is produced in the gut. The brain can also influence gut function through stress responses and the release of certain hormones such as cortisol. This can lead to digestive issues, such as nausea, bloating, and diarrhea.


Stress can lead to digestive issues, such as nausea, bloating, and diarrhea.

Impact of stress on gut health


Stress can negatively impact gut health by decreasing digestive enzyme production and disrupting gut microbiota balance. This can lead to gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. Chronic stress can lead to more severe conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

Improving gut health


Emerging research explores how improving gut health through diet and probiotics can positively impact mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. It is also important to note that stress reduction techniques and psychological interventions may alleviate gut symptoms.


Improving gut health through diet and probiotics can positively impact mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression

Focus on gut health and managing stress


It is essential to prioritize gut health to manage stress. This can be done by eating a balanced and healthy diet, avoiding processed foods, staying hydrated, and exercising regularly. Incorporating stress-relieving activities into daily routines, such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises, can also help to reduce stress levels and improve gut health.


The gut-brain connection is a promising research area that can potentially improve physical and mental health outcomes.


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Ways to improve gut health

  • Plant-based diet

  • Avoid processed-foods

  • Manage stress

  • Reduce alcohol intake

  • Avoid large amounts of sugar

  • Consume a diet rich in fiber and prebiotics



Below is an educational video on the gut-brain connection by TEDx Talks.




Fun Facts


  1. The gut is sometimes called the "second brain" because it contains over 100 million neurons, more than in the spinal cord or the peripheral nervous system.

  2. A healthy gut microbiome is essential for maintaining overall health and well-being because it plays a significant role in the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain.

  3. The gut-brain connection can explain why you might feel nausea or digestive discomfort when you're nervous or stressed or why you experience "butterflies in your stomach" when you're excited.

  4. Exercise has also been found to benefit the gut-brain connection, reducing stress and improving gut health.

Statistics

Between 35% to 70% of individuals experience functional gastrointestinal disorders – with women being affected more frequently than men – resulting in painful sensations, bloating, and other uncomfortable symptoms. FGDs arise without any visible explanations, such as infections or cancer. Stress is often regarded as one of the major contributing factors. The process is bidirectional, where stress causes and aggravates gastrointestinal pain/symptoms and vice versa.


Summary


It's essential to recognize the connection between the gut and the brain and address physical and mental health aspects when treating gastrointestinal symptoms.

Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthily. 🌱 🌾 🌿


Personally


I eat a high-fiber, mostly plant-based 🌱 diet, no red meat, drink 4 liters of water a day, exercise, and am focused on keeping nutrition simple. I am sharing what works for me and what I routinely recommend to my patients.


"Balance. Portion control. Keep nutrition simple. Eat Smart. Eat Healthy. 🌱 🌾 🌿"

Gut Health ➕ Patient Advocacy with Navigation ➕ Life Balance


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