Meditation and Gut Health: Intestinal Intuitvity
We all know that stress is bad for us and our mental health. But did you know that chronic stress can wreak havoc on your gut health too? That’s what makes meditation and gut health a match made in stress-free heaven. Let’s take a look at why meditation might be the answer to your gastrointestinal distress or other GI problems.
Meditation and Gut Health Connection to Stress
Our existence takes place in a fast-paced world where we are all constantly pushing ourselves to the physical and mental limits. This busy lifestyle can cause your body and microbiome to be in a constant state of stress 1.
Now, what does it mean for your microbiome if you are dealing with stress? When your body senses a stressful situation, your sympathetic nervous system kicks into overdrive. You get startled and your heartbeat quickens. Perhaps your whole body gets hot and sweaty. All of that hot messness is in thanks to your symathetic nervous system 2.
The sympathetic nervous system allows us to do things such as running away from danger faster than we ever knew we could. Nuts and bolts, the sympathetic nervous system quickly reacts to threats in order to keep us alive.
Sympathetic Nervous System and Immune System
Our body is a series of systems that work together for the betterment of the whole. The parasympathetic nervous system keeps the immune system on high alert. That way, the immune system can jump in and fight off outside pathogens efficiently 3.
In short burts, the sympathetic nervous system is life-saving. However, when the sympathetic nervous system is constantly activated from stress, it can cause some serious negative side effects for your entire body. That notion is especially true for your gut health.
Stress Effects on Gut Health
Chronic stress leads you down a rabbit hole of GI problems. The only way to stop chronic stress is to manage your diet, work on meditation and gut health, plus look for symptoms.
That’s the beauty of meditation and gut health. You can become in tune with how your body feels by listening to it. Listening to how you feel intuitively can push you in the right direction toward figuring out the root of your GI problems.
Here is how stress triggers a chain of events of immune responses that can be realized through meditation and gut health practice.
Stress Increases Inflammation5. These ramifications can include everything from destroying beneficial gut flora to trigger autoimmune disease.
Stress Increases Gut PermeabilityWhen our bodies are under stress, inflammation increases in the gut. This reaction causes the epithelial lining of the gut to become more permeable leading to a large number of health issues 6. One of the most common health issues from this damage is Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Any moment your gut senses stress, it calls upon your Mast Cells. Mast Cells are a key player in your immune response to help prepare your gut for battle. These antibodies are responsible for your body’s inflammatory response 7. Ah, we’re back to that!
Leaky Gut Syndrome and StressThis inflammatory response is helpful if there is a threat, but if the only threat is stress from everyday life, it’s not so great. This increase in permeability is what leads to the infamous Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Developing Leaky Gut Syndrome can have disastrous consequences for your overall health, not just the gut biome. Leaky gut syndrome causes food particles and toxins to infiltrate your bloodstream.
When you have Leaky Gut Syndrome, it may cause:
Everyday stress may seem inevitable. Therefore, managing stress can help you manage all of the GI problems and mental health issues associated with poor gut health. Thankfully, meditation and gut health go hand-in-hand.
Meditation and Gut Health for Stress Management
More studies are coming to light that illustrates the strong connection between the gut and brain. Here are a couple of examples of how stress interacts with your gut biome and how you can manage these issues with meditation.
Stress Alters Gut Biome
If you think all of this inflammation and increased permeability would affect your microbiome, you would be correct. When your body is exposed to stress it can alter the ratios of different bacterial communities within your gut. Studies have shown that certain bacterial species become more or less prevalent when the body reacts to stressful situations 11.
Additionally, the increased permeability can cause stomach bacteria that are only meant to be in the gut to become displaced and travel into the bloodstream, causing further complications 12.
Mindfulness Can Alleviate Stress
Okay, so we know that all this stress is causing chaos inside our gut, but managing stress in modern life feels like a next to impossible task. so, what can we do about it?
In recent years, mindfulness has picked up a lot of mainstream media coverage. However, this new trend isn’t just for monks and people resigned to live off-grid forever. Mindfulness practices have shown some serious promise in helping everyday people cope with stress 13.
Starting a mindfulness practice can seem daunting. However, all you need to practice is a comfortable seat and a few minutes. Simply sitting and observing your breath and mind is all mindfulness is. By paying attention to your breath, you can pull yourself out of your mind and any stress you are feeling, if only for a few moments.
After some practice, these few moments can add up and help you better deal with the stress that life throws at you. There are many apps on the market that help guide you through the process of creating a mindfulness practice that fits into your life. Many books go much more in-depth into mindfulness and how the practice can help everyone deal with stress in a better way.
Another way to get into meditation is try yoga. Yoga marries breath with movement, forcing you to take your mind off the stress you are feeling. Furthermore, there are many yoga poses fror stomach issues that may provide comfort for gastrointesintal distrress.
Probiotics Supplements and Stress
In addition to regular mindfulness practice, a great way to begin to regain your gut health after years of chronic stress is to eat foods to foster healthy bacteria 14.
Furthermore, you can improve the gut biome by taking personalized probiotics supplements. By implementing these strategies, you are making sure to optimize the stomach bacteria in your gut. Eating gut health foods and taking personalized supplements can lower your inflammatory response to keep leaky gut at bay.
By taking these steps you can begin to cultivate the happiest and healthiest version of yourself who is ready to take on any stressful challenge. Luckily, Thryve offers personalized probiotic supplements specifically for you. By testing your unique microbiome Thryve can figure out exactly which bacterial strains would benefit you the most in your journey to reclaiming your gut health.
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- 1 Saunders, Paul R., et al. “Physical and Psychological Stress in Rats Enhances Colonic Epithelial Permeability via Peripheral CRH.” SpringerLink, Kluwer Academic Publishers-Plenum Publishers, link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1013204612762.
- 2 McCorry L. K. (2007). Physiology of the autonomic nervous system. American journal of pharmaceutical education, 71(4), 78. doi:10.5688/aj710478.
- 3 Pongratz, Georg, and Rainer H Straub. “The Sympathetic Nervous Response in Inflammation.” Arthritis Research & Therapy, BioMed Central, 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25789375.
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- 6 Groschwitz, Katherine R, et al. “Mast Cells Regulate Homeostatic Intestinal Epithelial Migration and Barrier Function by a Chymase/Mcpt4-Dependent Mechanism.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, National Academy of Sciences, 29 Dec. 2009, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20018751.
- 7 Krystel-Whittemore, M., Dileepan, K. N., & Wood, J. G. (2016). Mast Cell: A Multi-Functional Master Cell. Frontiers in immunology, 6, 620. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2015.00620.
- 8 Gecse, Krisztina, et al. “Leaky Gut in Patients with Diarrhea-Predominant Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Inactive Ulcerative Colitis.” Digestion, Karger Publishers, 14 Dec. 2011, www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/333083.
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- 11 Bailey, Michael T, et al. “Exposure to a Social Stressor Alters the Structure of the Intestinal Microbiota: Implications for Stressor-Induced Immunomodulation.” Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21040780.
- 12 Maes, Michael, and Jean-Claude Leunis. “Normalization of Leaky Gut in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) Is Accompanied by a Clinical Improvement: Effects of Age, Duration of Illness and the Translocation of LPS from Gram-Negative Bacteria.” Neuroendocrinology Letters Volume 29 No. 6 2008, 28 Dec. 2008, pdfs.semanticscholar.org/2244/1b19b168b87232891b76c410531dd1b8f157.pdf?_ga=2.177735335.382879915.1566321151-1227233556.1566321151.
- 13 “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Health Benefits: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Psychosomatic Research, Elsevier, 20 July 2004, www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0022399903005737.
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