THAT GUT FEELING
In last week’s blog, we talked about how an unbalanced lifestyle and stress can
turn your health upside down.
This week we want to focus on the main culprit that causes your balance to start
spinning out of control and your gut health to suffer.
Lets start by looking back 50,000 years to our Paleolithic ancestors. The DNA (our genetic code) we possess today was developed over thousands of years in
response to environmental stressors, which are very different than we experience
Our hunter gatherer ancestors had to endure brutal cold, starvation, and constant
threats from predators and enemies. In order to survive, they had to hunt for
food and in the process getting chased by a predator such as a tiger,
experiencing repeated short term life threatening situations. Over time, the fight
or flight response developed. The HPA – GUT axis (Hypothalamus – Pituitary -
Adrenal – GUT) developed and is in charge of handling the fight or flight
situation. It is designed and produces short bursts of CORTISOL, adrenaline and
noradrenaline in response to acute stress.
Fast forward to today’s modern culture where the tiger is always at the door and
were under constant stress 24/7. Research shows that chronic stress cannot
only increase absolute cortisol, but more importantly it disrupts the natural
cortisol diurnal rhythm, throwing off our HPA- GUT axis system daily rhythm
producing high levels of cortisol 24 hours a day.
Gut health, including the microbiome (the 100 trillion microbes that reside in your
gut), is under direct attack by today’s stress and high cortisol levels. When we
experience stress, acute or chronic, the physiologic response shunts blood away from the gut to the muscles, heart and brain. Your ability to digest food is almost
nonexistent, robbing you of key nutrients such as magnesium and B vitamins.
Stress producing cortisol, norepinephrine, and epinephrine, alters the healthy
bacterial composition of the gut. This leads to a breakdown of the gut’s ability to
act as a barrier keeping out unwanted toxic substances from entering into our
blood stream stimulating our immune sys.