I went home to the East Coast for my first summer in eight years, and this time I was getting married.
The intensity of a wedding had me highly stressed and additionally my fiancé and I were sleeping on a blow up mattress in the room I spent the years of my adolescent angst in.
We embraced the traditional Boston clam chowder, fried seafood, lobster rolls and lots of butter. Within a matter of days I felt the gut garden that I spent two years cultivating turn into an unfriendly and upset environment. With the combination of anxiety and processed foods; I found myself with a stressed gut.
What does that mean? I felt unsettled, heavy and constricted in my gut causing me to feel irritable and on edge. Our gut microbiome responds to what we feed it and my gut was wondering where was the usual kraut, kefir and kombucha?
Did you know your gut lining can break down from stress?
Ask yourself; Do you constantly experience tightness, turning, twisting or discomfort in your gut? Are you a perfectionist, workaholic or a worrier and experience ups and downs in your belly? If so, you may be housing a stressed gut.
After a blow to the gut here's how I begin to get my digestive health back on track.
1. Slow down and go at your own pace. When we are rushing through our lives, we rush through our meals and wind up with undigested food that can feel like a lead balloon in our gut. Even if you're eating clean, eating in a rush or when stressed can sabotage our bodies ability to receive nourishment. It's very important to find ways to manage our stress levels and slow down. Practice breathing deeply into your belly while holding it there for a few seconds, to bring oxygen to your cells and flow back into your gut.
2. Don't eat when you're upset. Your state of mind is part of your digestion and you could literally be eating feelings of guilt, remorse and tension when you munch after an argument. Stress hormones can also impair the growth of good bacteria making space for the bad. Check in with your emotional state before mindlessly eating something that makes you feel worse.
3. Cut out sugar & processed foods. Highly processed ingredients may be killing off the beneficial flora in your gut which may lead to an unfriendly, highly processed environment. When you eat too much sugar and processed foods they begin to feed pathogenic microorganisms and yeast, causing them to rapidly multiply and attack your intestinal wall. When you regularly eat a variety of healthy, non-processed foods, your microbiome becomes programmed to work for you. Cultivate a healthy gut garden by adding a variety of nutrient dense whole foods to your diet.
Do you think you have a stressed gut? Would love to hear from you in the comments.