Effects of stress: How it disturbs your gut bacteria

Stress and headaches are linked to a disrupted gut-brain axis

author_img Deepika Rathod Published :  16th June 2023 02:23 PM   |   Published :   |  16th June 2023 02:23 PM

Photo Credits: Pexels

Of late, people have started noticing brain fog issues with loss of concentration, which is affecting their day-to-day life. Stress, headaches, vertigo, brain fog, and other cognitive disturbances can often be linked to a disrupted gut-brain axis. Moreover, conditions like acidity and constipation can negatively affect brain function. In this article, we will explore the connection between these symptoms and gut health. the gut-brain axis is referred to as a nexus of the bidirectional communication system between the central nervous system (CNS) of the brain-spinal cord and the enteric nervous system (eNS) of the gut.

This connection is facilitated by a vast network of neurons, hormones, neurotransmitters, and the gut microbiota. Disturbances in this axis can have a significant impact on both mental and physical health. Stress is known to influence gut health and function. Chronic stress can disrupt the balance of gut microbiota, leading to dysbiosis — an imbalance in the gut microbial community.

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This dysbiosis can trigger inflammation and compromise the integrity of the gut lining, resulting in increased intestinal permeability, or ‘leaky gut’. the leakage of toxins and undigested food particles into the bloodstream can activate an immune response, leading to systemic inflammation and potentially affecting brain function. the gut-brain axis plays a crucial role in regulating pain perception and cognitive function as well.

Imbalances in gut microbiota and increased gut permeability can trigger systemic inflammation and activate the release of pro-inflammatory molecules. these molecules can travel through the bloodstream and reach the brain, contributing to Neuroinflammation (an inflammatory response that takes place within the brain or the spinal cord) and potentially causing headaches, vertigo, and brain fog.

Conditions like acidity and constipation can also impact brain function. excessive acidity in the stomach can lead to the reflux of stomach acid into the oesophagus, causing heartburn and potentially leading to inflammation. this inflammation can affect the vagus nerve (the 10th cranial nerve that connects the gut and brain), a major component of the gut-brain axis, and disrupt the communication between the gut and the brain.

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Chronic constipation, on the other hand, can result in the accumulation of toxins and waste products in the gut, which can be absorbed into the bloodstream and negatively impact brain health. let’s look at certain tips that you can follow daily to improve this gut-brain axis and replenish the gut microbiota as well:

Probiotics: Incorporate foods rich in probiotics, such as organic a2 curd or yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut, rice kanji, kimchi, etc into your diet. probiotics help restore a healthy balance of gut bacteria and support gut-brain axis communication.

Fibre-rich foods: Consume a diet that has a balance of soluble fibre, insoluble fibre and resistance starches from fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes etc. this fibre promotes healthy digestion, regulates bowel movements, and supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. 

Stress management: Engage in stress-reducing activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or regular physical activity to divert your mind and release feel-good hormones. Chronic stress can disrupt gut health, so finding effective stress management techniques is vital.

Ginger: Incorporate ginger into your meals or consume it as a tea by mashing one inch of ginger and boiling it in a cup of water, strain and enjoy. Ginger possesses anti-inflammatory properties and can aid digestion, reducing the risk of gut-related inflammation.

Peppermint: Sip peppermint tea to alleviate gut discomfort and relax the mind. Its active compound, menthol, helps to relax the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract, alleviating symptoms of bloating, cramps, and indigestion. It can provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) by reducing spasms and improving digestion.

Brahmari pranayama: This is a breathing technique in yoga that can positively impact the gut-brain axis. through deep, slow breathing with a humming sound, activates the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing stress and promoting relaxation. this can improve digestion and enhance communication between the gut and the brain. By fostering a harmonious connection, Brahmari pranayama has the potential to support gut health and contribute to emotional well-being.

Gut health