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How Stress Affects Your Gut

Were you aware that recurrent stress (fear and anxiety, that random rush of adrenaline and a newfound sense of urgency…sound familiar?) can literally affect your long-term wellness? Research has proven that ongoing stress can negatively impact the trillion of healthy bacteria in your gut, and subpar gut health can negatively impact your entire system.

Did you know that 80% of your immune system lives within your gut? Can you see why it might be important to focus on gut health a little more than you have been? When you experience elevated levels of stress, your body slides into flight-or-fight mode, which directly impacts the blood flow to your gut. 

One of the key services that your gut bacteria provide is helping to signal the proper response for your brain to cope with stressors so that they don’t end up affecting the rest of your body. Sporadic instances of this is fine, and natural. However, chronic, long-term stress will end up eroding the good gut bacteria that keeps your body safe from the effects of stress.

By weakening your gut flora and your gut’s intestinal lining, you are more susceptible to illness, exhaustion, and nutritional deficiencies. 

However, there is no need to fear! Stress is manageable and with the right guidance, you can take daily action to improve microbial health and improve your overall wellbeing. 

How do you go about improving your gut health and curbing your stress?

  • Optimise your diet – aim for a diet high in whole and plant-based foods with an emphasis on prebiotic fiber. Want a challenge? Aim for 30 plant-based ingredients a week (herbs and spices are also included!)
  • Check with your medical team or dietitian if a daily probiotic supplement is beneficial.
  • Movement – active people are proven to be healthier AND exercise is a great way to decompress after a long day
  • Prioritise sleep – a good night’s rest helps reduce stress and keeps you feeling your best physically and emotionally, all while benefiting your gut bacteria
  • Only take antibiotics when necessary – There’s a lot of controversy around this topic and by no means are we against modern medicine! The issue with antibiotics is that they wreak havoc on your system because antibiotics wipe out not only the bad bacteria, but the good bacteria as well. They have been overly prescribed in this day and age so discuss options with your GP first. If you need to take a course of antibiotics, then make sure you include the right probiotic supplement to go alongside your treatment.

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