Beyond helping us extract nutrients from foods, our gut health has an important role to play in our immunity. Our gut often protests when its working conditions are less than desirable, causing heartburn, bloating, pain, gas, imperfectly-formed bowel movements. During stressful times, negative emotions can modify your gut environment in negative ways.
There are a few different ways digestive health suffers from the insult of chronic stress
Δ Your can stress out your gut! The enteric nervous system is an extension of our autonomic nervous system, also known as the second brain. The enteric system helps to regulate digestion. When we feel stress, blood is diverted away from the digestive tract to our muscles, disrupting the intestinal muscle contraction leading to gas caused by nutrient malabsorption. Some additional symptoms like constipation and diarrhea also tend to emerge.
Δ That gut feeling is real! Stress can weaken your gut barrier. This barrier is a critical part of the immune system. A weakened intestinal barrier can let pathogens into the bloodstream leading to chronic silent inflammation that attacks our own tissues and organs, and has been linked with many chronic conditions such as Alzherarthritis, asthma, COPD, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Inflammatory response created by our immune system is essential for protecting ourselves from infections. These inflammatory conditions take away your immune system’s resources to fend off infections.
Δ Your gut bacteria’s reaction to stress. Your gut can literally change the map in your gastrointestinal system.Your gut bacteria communicate with the brain through the vagus nerve. Your gut utilizes the same neurotransmitters your brain uses to regulate mood, memory and energy levels, such as GABA, serotonin, adrenaline, dopamine, acetylcholine and melatonin. Stress can create an immediate effect on our gut microbiome such as reduced beneficial bacteria, increased harmful bacteria and inflammation in the gut. In turn, the hostile gut environment creates defensive molecules known as inflammatory cytokines that makes the brain feel anxious and depressed.
There are three foundations to good gut health: microbiome balance, gut lining integrity and having sufficient digestive factors. Let’s take a look at all three factors in detail.
Friendly bacteria can not only support mental emotional well-being and nutrient absorption, it can also produce natural antibiotics to kill off infections. Your gut bacteria is busy fighting off infection before pathogens can even reach your bloodstream. Adding fermented foods are a great way to reward those hard-working, good microbes. The fermentation process creates lactic acid which naturally inhibits the growth of bad bacteria. Fermented foods can also provide prebiotic fibers that help to host beneficial bacteria. However, to get the beneficial strains many of us are lacking, it’s important to introduce human strain probiotics such as these: click here
Gut Lining Integrity
The gastrointestinal barrier can be reinforced by removing inflammatory food triggers to reduce the insult to the gut lining. The natural healing process can also be encouraged by adding L-glutamine, a naturally occuring amino acid found in cabbage juice and bone broth.
Glutamine is the preferred fuel of the intestinal lining cells.
Digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and bile are some important digestive factors to make sure foods get broken down into nutrients. Digestive bitters help to stimulate the vagus nerve, as discussed, the channel where our gut and brain communicate. Bitter herbs and foods help to aid in the production and release of digestive enzymes.
Here are some recipes that support gut health:
Digestive Bitters Salad
Total Time: 10 min
- 3 cups spring mix
- 1 cup dandelion greens, chopped
- 1 cup frisse, chopped
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons Udo’s 3.6.9 oil or extra virgin olive oil
- Pink Himalayan salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Chop or tear the salad leaves into bite-sized pieces and place them into a large bowl. Mix well
- Mix together all dressing ingredients. If having this salad the next day, simply double the recipe and keep extra dressing in a glass jar
- Fold the salad leaves with the dressing right before serve. Mix well.
Protein Packed Gut Healing Carrot Ginger Soup
Total Time: 40 min
- 1 sweet potato, scrubbed, washed and diced
- 1 cup cauliflower, diced
- 1 bunch carrots (about 1 lb)
- 5 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 small piece fresh ginger (about 2 inch)
- 4 cups bone broth (can be bought frozen at Wholefoods or powdered by Prairie Naturals)
- 4 tablespoons collagen powder (about 80g protein)
- 4 tablespoons hemp seeds (for topping)
- 1 cup water or unsweetened heavy coconut cream
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee
- Pink Himalayan salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
- Melt coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add chopped garlic, onion and ginger and cook for about 1 min until the mixture is aromatic
- Add sweet potato, cauliflower, carrots and sauté for about 5 min
- Pour bone broth over the vegetables, bring to a boil and and let simmer with lid on for about 20 min
- Turn off the heat and let cool slightly
- Use an immersion blender and purée the soup until creamy smooth
Green Gut Soother Smoothie
Total Time: 10 min
- 2 cup spring mix
- 1/4 cup parsley, diced
- 1/2 cucumber, diced
- 1 avocado
- 1 small piece of ginger (1/2 length of your pinkie finger)
- 1/2 cup aloe vera juice (optional)
- 5000 mg glutamine powder
- 1 scoop Genuine Health Fermented Vegan protein (Vanilla)
- Unsweetened almond milk or water
- Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender. Blend till creamy smooth.
Tahlia Sage is the founder of Tahlia Sage Wellness and a partner of Healing House Natural Wellness, and instructor at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition.
Her coaching practice helps clients achieve their wellness goals by embracing functional foods and healthy lifestyle changes. Tahlia’s own health challenges and weight issues prompted her to pursue an education in nutritional science and holistic nutrition. Tahlia empowers her clients to regain balance with easy, concrete steps.
Disclaimer: If you are pregnant or suffer from any illness, please seek advice from your healthcare provider regarding safe exercise practices. This article is for information purposes only. Please seek medical advice and treatment in case of illness.
Disclaimer: This article is written for information use only. The opinions expressed in the article reflect the author’s personal research, and experience. More research and data in the future will help us better protect ourselves from this novel virus. Please refer to government and medical guidelines to stay safe and healthy.