It’s a struggle for all of us at one time or another, and for many of us now more than ever. Fear of the unknown, restricted personal contact, disruption of routine is causing recurrent stress — that heightened sense of urgency, anxiety and even adrenaline that is often present with recurrent stress — can literally chip away at the foundation of your health and affect your long-term wellness.
Just thinking about all of this ‘new norm’ can leave your stomach in knots — and you’re not alone! The burden of too much stress directly affects your most recently discovered “organ”: your gut flora (microbiome). Research shows that ongoing stress can negatively affect the trillions of healthy bacteria (good bugs) in your gut. Not only does stress negatively affect your gut flora… so does eating processed foods (the sales of which the likes of potato chips, cookies, etc. have skyrocket since ‘shelter in place’ regs have gone into effect). The negative effects of disrupting gut health can have a depressing effect on your entire system!
Your good gut bacteria play important roles in keeping your body mentally and physically fit by helping:
- Digest your food and absorb its nutrients
- Support your immune system
- Regulate hormone and glucose levels
- Support mental clarity
- Fend off harmful and disease causing microbes (bad bugs)
The good news is that understanding how to support your friendly microbes as you do your best to manage your stress levels can help you experience healthier and more fulfilling days. Healthy gut flora (packed with good bugs) help keep stress in line. When you’re armed with a healthy gut flora, you’ll produce more serotonin (the ‘happy’ chemical) and less cortisol (notorious ‘stress’ chemical).
Things you can do to support and promote healthy (good bug) gut flora:
- Aim for a diet rich in whole and plant-based foods… emphasize prebiotic fiber (food that the good bugs need to survive and thrive).
- Take a daily probiotic or prebiotic + probiotic supplement
- Make movement a must… get up off the couch, out of the chair: Move about
- Get plenty of rest – shoot for 6-9 hours of restful sleep.
- Look for the positive in each and every situation. Take a few deep breaths, relax and remember to take care of yourself.