The Link between Stress and Leaky Gut Syndrome
It has been said that our gut is like a “second brain” because of the integral way it interacts with our immune system, hormonal system, neurological system and our actual brain.
Due to the connection between our gut and our psychology, mental stress and trauma can, among other things, cause intestinal wall permeability which is more commonly known as leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome more aptly describes the fact that substances that would normally stay inside our intestine can now ‘leak out’ and travel into the inner layer of our intestinal wall and our bloodstream causing havoc on our health.
Stressing Your Guts Out
Biochemical changes occur in our bodies during times of stress and we release hormones such as norepinephrine and cortisol. Under normal circumstances, these hormones are meant to protect us during ‘fight or flight’ situations by moving energy stores to our muscles and increasing our breathing and heart rate, while at the same time shutting down our digestive and immune systems.
The bacteria normally found in our digestive systems can read the stress in our body and detect the presence of stress hormones. At this point, the usually harmless microbes suddenly get into a fluster and become pathogenic, which causes them to multiply rapidly and mutate.
This action throws out the usually protective inner ecology of our gut and can lead to infection because it opens the door for a wide range of health conditions to develop and manifest due to the bacterial overgrowth.
Psychological stress also slows the normal small intestine transit time and compromises the intestinal barrier which leads to the development of leaky gut syndrome.
While getting a handle on your stress is a huge step towards gaining a foothold on leaky gut syndrome, maintaining healthy gut flora can also greatly assist in controlling the hypersensitivity and leaky gut permeability that comes from exposure to stress.
Consuming fermented foods as well as probiotic foods or supplements will help to normalise your brain levels of stress hormones and at the same time restore a healthy balance to your gut.
Dr Alain Sanua is a qualified doctor with additional qualifications in Naturopathy. Talk to him today about nutritional and herbal therapies to help control your stress levels as well as repair any damage your stress may have inflicted on your intestinal barrier.