De- Stress With a ‘Good’ Gut

Some days, weeks, months…  are just tougher than others.  Stress is high, anxiety is part in parcel and your stomach is a mess.  

Keeping yourself healthy, rested and focused is often difficult during stressful times.. but soooo important.  Your ability to make sound decisions in the face of hardship depends on your calm focus.  As you do your best to manage the day to day stressors, don’t forget the importance of the gut – brain connection.

Straight from the Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Medical School:

“The gut-brain connection is no joke; it can link anxiety to stomach problems and vice versa. Have you ever had a “gut-wrenching” experience? Do certain situations make you “feel nauseous”? Have you ever felt “butterflies” in your stomach? We use these expressions for a reason. The gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotion. Anger, anxiety, sadness, elation — all of these feelings (and others) can trigger symptoms in the gut.”

Likewise,  research shows that stress can negatively affect the trillions of healthy bacteria in your gut, and sub-par gut health can have a depressing effect on your entire system. Understanding how to support your good gut microbes can help you with healthier and happier days.  Occasional stress is inevitable, but fortunately, we can choose to slow down, stop, and prioritize our health. Getting through tough stressful times is much easier when you are rested, your stomach isn’t tied in knots, and you stay calm. 

Tips to Improve Your Gut Health and Improve Your Stress Response:

  1. Diet – Focus on whole and plant based foods.
  2. Rest – Get your sleep.  Not only will you feel emotionally and physically better, your gut microbes are happier for it.
  3. Move Around – Don’t just sit there… Literally. Studies show more active people have healthier gut flora.
  4. Avoid Antibiotics When Possible – These drugs kill off the good flora along with the bad.  This includes antibiotics in the foods you select and prescriptions from your health care provider (discuss the necessity).
  5. Take aProbiotic or Prebiotic/Probiotic Supplement – This will help replenish the good flora.  Look for one with a variety of strains.
  6. Find ways to make your health a priority –  Ways to slow down, appreciate the moment and de-stress can literally save your life.  Be proactive… waiting for an ‘Ah-Ha’ moment or catastrophic event… maybe waiting too long!

What are probiotics?

What are probiotics?

When you see a reference to ‘good’ gut flora or ‘good’ bugs in your gut, most of those remarks are referring to different types of ‘good’ bacteria – meaning they are good for your body’s health. Probiotics is the general term that includes most of those good bacteria.

As noted on the Mayo Clinic’s site:  “Probiotics are good bacteria that are either the same as or very similar to the bacteria that are already in your body. Your lower digestive tract alone teems with a complex and diverse community of these bacteria. In fact, there are a greater number of bacteria in your intestines than there are cells in your body.”

Your intestines are also teeming with ‘bad’ bacteria (can cause harm and negative health related issues).   Having too many of the “bad” and not enough of the “good” bacteria — often caused in part by an unhealthy diet — can wreak all sorts of havoc on your body’s health. As further noted on the Mayo Clinic’s website: “This imbalance can lead to weight gain, skin conditions, constipation or diarrhea, and various chronic health conditions.” The key is too have more of the ‘good’ guys than the ‘bad’.

Consuming foods rich in probiotics (some yogurts, some cheeses, kefir, sauerkraut and kimshi) and taking a probiotic supplement can help you increase your ‘good’ gut bugs and help keep the ‘bad’ ones at bay.

It’s important to keep in mind that there are many different types (strains) of probiotics, each with specific purposes.  You need a good variety of different strains to help achieve a balanced and healthy gut flora.  A variety of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species are the most common beneficial bacteria used in dietary supplements.