Don’t Stress your Gut

October 3, 2018 by Maria Buehler in Health and Wellness

feeling of butterflies in the gut

When I was a child, I always seemed to have a sensitive stomach. I became very aware that certain foods affected me negatively. I remember my mother taking me to the doctor who prescribed for me a bland diet of crackers, soups, teas, and ginger ale soda. I had to say goodbye to sugary foods, especially those sandwich cookies with creamy fillings and the sweet sodas, which we correctly called “sugar water”. Though sad at having to give up some of my favorite foods, I soon became aware that I felt better when I avoided these foods.

I also became aware that certain events made me feel like butterflies were in my stomach. Events such as the first day at a new school, which I endured three times, and when I left home to attend university thousands of miles away in a foreign country. Each time I was terrified and stressed and I felt my gut telling me not to eat.

My gut was making connections between my feelings and the things going on in my life.

The gut–brain connection

Nutrients from the food you eat are absorbed in the small intestine in two ways: through the cells and between the cells. The spaces between the cells are held together by a tight junction. A tight junction is made up of selective barriers that facilitate the transport of molecules between the cells. These thin linings or barriers can become damaged by toxins, infections, drugs, stress/trauma or elevated sugar in the blood. When the lining is damaged, the cells separate making the gut leaky. If undigested food particles or toxins enter between the spaces and go into the bloodstream, they can stimulate various immune cells, which can lead to inflammation in the body including the brain. (Inflammation is like the redness, swelling, and pain you see when you hit your big toe, except it’s inside the body.)

Managing stress can help keep the gut healthy

By identifying the stresses, traumas or triggers in your life, you can work to prevent and address potential issues with your gut. If you manage your stress and keep your gut healthy, you can make a difference in your health in a positive way. Here are some tools to help you do this.

Let yourself become your homework

Work on your hurt trails. Identify your hurt trails. What are some of your painful experiences in life—rejections, failures in school, tragic accidents, illness, death, sexual, physical, or emotional abuse. Since it is usually difficult to be objective concerning yourself, you might find it helpful to work on your hurt trail with a pastor, rabbi, priest, psychiatrist, psychologist,counselor or professional care manager. This is a life journey—the journey to wholeness.

gut health-woman journaling

Take time to breathe

By simply practicing deep breathing you can bring calm and rest to the parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is one of three divisions of the autonomic nervous system. Sometimes called the rest-and-digest system, the parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract. These are the benefits you experience when you meditate.

On the other hand, when you are continually stressed, the body’s sympathetic nervous system—the opposite of the parasympathetic nervous system—that controls fight or flight is very active. The sympathetic nervous system prepares your body for physical and mental activity. It makes your heart beat faster and stronger, constricts blood vessels, raises blood pressure, muscle tension and physical sensation increases, and inhibits digestion, produces cold hands and feet and headaches. Therefore, it is no surprise that when under pressure, you may feel less inclined to eat.

woman sitting on a bench

Friends Life Care in conjunction with Intervention Associates offers Mindfulness Meditation through it’s VigR Programs. Anyone can sign up for a class that will teach you how to make the most of your meditation practice.

Eat gut bacteria food

Good bacteria or probiotics in your gut help to break down your food, absorb nutrients, synthesize certain vitamins, and prevent intruders such as influenza and toxic cancer-forming carcinogens. In addition to boosting your immune system, the good bacteria send messages to your brain and help regulate metabolism.

Some gut bacteria foods are Jerusalem artichokes, broccoli, cabbage, kale, blueberries, beans, fermented plant-based foods such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and pickled vegetables.

purple cabbage

You can also take probiotics as a capsule, powder, liquid, or in yogurt.

Pain or trauma can cause stress in the body. Stress, if not managed in healthy ways, can negatively impact the body. The gut is one of the places to mirror this disturbance. So don’t ignore changes in the way your gut feels. Try to identify the stress, trauma, or hurt that is negatively affecting your body. You might have to take some time to walk through your hurt trail. But you don’t have to walk alone. Find out how Intervention Associates can help you or a loved one take this walk.
Slow down, take time to breathe, eat healthily and live!


Sympathetic Nervous System.

Depression, The Microbiome & Leaky Gut

Gut microbiota’s effect on mental health: The gut-brain axis

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