Errands. Bills. Traffic. The pile of laundry looming like the Sydney Opera House and to top it off you are probably already running 5 minutes late to work (ugh!)
Definitely enough to cause a palpitation without that second (or third) coffee.
But … It's just stress. Right?
The culture of chronic stress is easy to dismiss and even downplay in a culture that almost worships perpetual ‘busy-ness’, so let's stick this under the microscope for just a minute.
The truth is that chronic stress is detrimental to health on multiple levels, and insidiously erodes a stable foundation for good health and longevity. The effects of chronic stress on the body can leave a dent in almost every critical area possible, and interestingly enough, stress doesn't have to be perceived as ‘stress’ (aka that work deadline, or the dark and choppy waters with the mother-in-law). Rather, anything from a night of sub-par sleep, over-training, infection or even too much caffeine can appeal to our body’s instinct to protect us from ‘stress’.
The effects of stress can present as things that seem entirely unrelated-
So where are some of the most common places for the effects of stress to show up?
1. Digestive issues
Stress impairs our ability to digest our food and assimilate nutrients, and can also exacerbate issues like reflux, or provoke existing conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease.
Chronic stress can even instigate conditions like SIBO by altering digestive secretions and disrupting motility! To top it all off, chronic stress can directly
damage the microbiome by reducing our populations of beneficial bugs and allowing the overgrowth bad bugs.
2. Changes to Body Composition and Metabolic Function
The body has incredible mechanisms to ensure that under threat, we will survive a long winter or famine, just like our ancestors would have endured- and under stressful conditions that drag out for a while, may go so far as to make the executive decision to retain weight
(just in case). Regardless of the source, long term stress can cue the body to slow down metabolism and conserve energy- which can look like weight gain and sluggishness or fatigue.
3. Memory and Cognition
Yes, you read correctly! If you’ve ever felt a little vague under pressure, you’re not alone.
Not only does stress impair focus and concentration (as if we need to add the stress of being unproductive!), but it can also dull the memory and blunt cognitive function; This is an interesting one. Why? Because parts of the brain can literally shrink when continuously peppered with stress hormones.
4. Mood changes
Ok so remember when we said the brain can shrivel from stress? This can also affect areas of the brain responsible for mood! But we can't consider mood without considering the affectionately termed ‘second brain’- you guessed it, the gut.
As we already know, stress can impact the gut and the microbiome, where up to a whopping 95% of serotonin (our happy neurotransmitter) is manufactured. If the gut suffers, mood is likely to go down with it! The relationship between the gut and brain is bidirectional - which means that one affects the other (so let’s treat both like they’re royalty).
5. Immune Function
Chronic stress can wear down immune function and make us more susceptible to infection and recurrent illness. We all know just how irritating seasonal bugs are, and piling these on top of a hefty to-do list is just another thing to stress about!
Now that we can confirm that stress isn't ‘just stress’, what the heck do we do about it?
Remember to Breathe
As simple as this sounds, it is mammoth in importance. How we breathe can activate either ‘hurry-hurry, rush-rush!’ OR ‘Rest and Digest’. Practicing deep, mindful breathing into the belly at regular intervals daily can disrupt the stress response and allow us to lean into ‘parasympathetic’ (aka chill)
Love Your Gut
Adding fermented foods such as kim-chi, sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha as well as including prebiotic and probiotic foods can help to support a happy gut, healthy microbiome and contribute to a healthy gut-brain-axis. Say hello to the ultimate pre-probiotic duo with The Gut Co’s ‘FEED’ and ‘REPAIR’. Combining prebiotic fibre, probiotics, collagen, and antioxidants, this power-couple have your microbiome covered. (The added perk of glowing, supple skin never added extra stress to anyone's life either!)
Do Intermittent fasting in short intervals
If you fast for longer periods of time this can add extra stress and leave us deprived of essential nutrients required to facilitate a healthy (and even-keeled) stress response. B group vitamins are critical for nervous system health and are needed in larger amounts during times of pressure.
‘The MULTI-TASKER by The Gut Co has your B-complex vitamins sorted with
a symphony of Activated B’s, as well as selenium and kelp-sourced iodine to support a healthy stress response, boost energy production and support metabolism.
Add Adaptogens (also in MULTI-TASKER)
Adaptogens are like the PA of today- A specific class of herbs which are renowned for their downright incredible capacity to support the body and mind during stressful periods (and/or daily lives). Our favourites? Siberian Ginseng, Rhodiola and Ashwagandha: the dynamic trio to collectively boost cognitive performance, zazz up energy levels, boost immunity, dampen down
anxiety and stress, and still somehow have time to improve sleep quality. Our sassy little MULTI-TASKER boasts all three of these beautiful herbs along with Activated B’s
Appleton J. The Gut-Brain Axis: Influence of Microbiota on Mood and Mental Health. Integr Med (Encinitas).
Panossian A, Wikman G. Effects of Adaptogens on the Central Nervous System and the Molecular Mechanisms
Associated with Their Stress-Protective Activity. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2010;3(1):188-224. Published 2010
Jan 19. doi:10.3390/ph3010188
Qin HY, Cheng CW, Tang XD, Bian ZX. Impact of psychological stress on irritable bowel syndrome. World J
Gastroenterol. 2014;20(39):14126-14131. doi:10.3748/wjg.v20.i39.14126
Seematter G, Binnert C, Tappy L. Stress and metabolism. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2005;3(1):8-13. doi:
10.1089/met.2005.3.8. PMID: 18370704
Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy--A Review. Nutrients. 2016;8(2):68.
Published 2016 Jan 27. doi:10.3390/nu8020068