The Relationship Between Stress and Gut Health

Carla Oates
Carla Oates The Beauty Chef Founder & CEO

Do you ever feel a knot in your stomach during times of stress? Turns out, there's a reason behind it and the intimate connection between our gut and stress response may be more important than we think. 

Here, we explore the gut-brain axis and delve into how stress can impact gut health, our digestion and the balance of bacteria in our microbiome. 

So, whether you're experiencing occasional digestive discomfort or managing ongoing gut issues, understanding the link between stress and your gut may be key to supporting your health more holistically.

But First, Understanding the Gut-Brain Axis

To understand how stress affects the gut, it’s important to first get to grips with the gut-brain axis. This bidirectional pathway allows the two to communicate, influence and impact each other. So if you’re feeling stressed, your gut is certainly going to know about it!

The Impact of Stress on Gut Health

Put simply, stress triggers the body's fight-or-flight response and can impact gut function in a number of ways. Firstly, it can actually alter and disrupt the balance of bacteria in the gut—affecting not only digestion and immune function, but also damaging the gut lining itself. This can trigger leaky gut—or intestinal permeability—allowing endotoxins to escape into the bloodstream, contributing to inflammation.

Stress can also impact digestion in a more tangible way, accelerating gut motility, and leading to diarrhea, constipation or changes in bowel habits. This is why, for many people who experience ongoing gut health issues,, stress can worsen existing symptoms.

Understanding how stress impacts gut health is thus crucial for managing gastrointestinal concerns. Hence, The Beauty Chef has a whole collection of formulas that help to support the body’s stress and anxiety response.

Other Ways Stress Impacts Our Health

Stress can have a significant impact on general health. Along with triggering or exacerbating gastrointestinal issues, it can weaken the immune system, making us susceptible to infection, cause widespread inflammation, and induce or exacerbate a range of acute and chronic conditions. In fact, 75%–90% of human diseases are related to the activation of the stress system.

Stress & Immune Health

While short-term stress can be beneficial for the human body, prolonged exposure to the stress hormone, cortisol, can suppress the production and function of lymphocytes. More commonly known as ‘white blood cells’, lymphocytes are crucial components of the immune system and are largely responsible for fighting off infections. When lymphocyte levels decline, we become more vulnerable to illnesses like the common cold.

Understanding the immunological consequences of stress is an active area of research, and may hold important insights into our susceptibility to disease as well as preventative and therapeutic interventions. 

Stress & Skin Health

Stress doesn't just affect our internal systems; it also takes a toll on our skin. Just as stress can impact the gut-brain axis, it can also disrupt the gut-skin axis. This bidirectional pathway is regulated through inflammatory mediators and the immune system. By disrupting the skin’s microbiota, stress has been linked to numerous viral, bacterial, and fungal skin conditions

Stress also accelerates loss of collagen and elastin, the proteins responsible for maintaining the skin’s integrity and elasticity. Consequently, heightened stress levels not only have the potential to cause and exacerbate existing skin issues, but may also contribute to premature ageing.

Does Stress Affect Gut Health?

The release of stress hormones results in changes in the gut brain connection, which can ultimately lead to the development of a broad array of gastrointestinal disorderswith symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating and irregular bowel movements highlighting the intricate relationship between stress and digestive function. 

Strategies for Managing Stress to Improve Gut Health

The good news is, there are a number of lifestyle practices you can implement to help ease stress and support a robust and thriving microbiome.

How Our Diet Can Also Improve Gut Health And Ease Stress

Aside from reviewing your lifestyle, there’s no question that your diet can dramatically improve your gut health—and help to ease the impacts of stress.  Opting for a diet rich in fibre (which feeds beneficial microbes), wholegrains and antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables will also nourish beneficial gut bacteria and support digestion. Whilst probiotic-rich foods and fermented varieties like kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut have also been shown to enhance gut microbiota diversity. A happy gut = a happy mind.

Probiotic supplements are a simple way to further support digestive wellbeing. At The Beauty Chef, our philosophy stems from the link between gut health and overall wellbeing, which is why every formula is backed by research and delivers a potent dose of probiotics to nurture your gut.

The Bottom Line: Gut Health & Stress

It's increasingly evident that stress can significantly impact not only our health but also our beauty and overall wellness. Recognising this interconnectedness highlights the importance of embracing holistic practices and supplements that nourish this symbiotic relationship. 

SUPERGENES™ STRESS & ANXIETY RELIEF Intensive Herbal Probiotic

$69.00

A daily capsule to help manage feelings of stress and mild anxiety

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