How Stress Affects Gut Bacteria

Understanding the relationship between your gut and brain is key to optimizing digestion and improving stress levels. These two seemingly separate organs are strongly connected via the vagus nerve. This nerve delivers messages between the enteric and central nervous system. Eating while in a state of stress causes decreased absorption of nutrients by reduction of the amount of enzymes released and the amount of other digestive juices such as stomach acid and bile, and can ultimately reduce intestinal motility. With deficiencies ramping up in our fast-paced lifestyles, it only leads to more chronic issues like anxiety, high blood pressure, sleep disorders, and more. How stress specifically alters your gastrointestinal biome is by altered output of neurotransmitters and inflammatory cytokines in the gut. The intestinal mucosal lining is woven together with nerves that secrete these chemical messengers. More research is being done to understand the biochemical factors at play, but the bottom line is this: what you eat and how you eat are equally important factors in preventative medicine.

—Taylor Jeffers