The gut is the gateway to optimal health, but a damaged gut can wreak havoc on your body – from autoimmune disease to heart disease and everything in between.
When you experience any kind of stress, one of the ways your body processes it is through the adrenal glands, which respond by creating a flood of stress hormones, including cortisol, that then affect both your digestive system and your immune system.
Traumatic stress is an extreme version of the stress response that your body has following a traumatic event. When your stress doesn’t turn off, your body is bathed in hormones and neurotransmitters that can damage your gut bacteria and your intestinal lining. It affects your mood, sleep, and energy, and produces increased levels of inflammation – the underlying root of diseases like arthritis.
The first step is to become aware of this connection; the next is to find ways to reduce the stress in your life.
In addition to eating for gut health, a key component in balancing the gut is tending to the mind-body connection. The mind is the part of you that is always thinking, planning, worrying. When you practice mindfulness and mind-body exercises such as meditation, you’re bringing your attention to this moment, so you can take a break from the memories or thoughts that trigger feelings of stress from the past or future.