You probably know that stress can cause digestive issues. Just think back to that time when you had a big speech to give and your stomach felt off. Or you were under a lot of pressure at work or at home and your GI tract paid the price. But did you know it works the other way, too?
Your gut can actually make you feel stressed. It all has to do with something scientists call the gut-brain axis. In fact, one of the best ways to reduce stress and feel more calm and relaxed is to support the health of your digestive tract.
The gut-brain axis is a two-way street. The brain can send signals to the gut but the gut can also send signals to your brain. And what if these gut-to-brain messages aren’t the right messages? Then you might find yourself feeling jittery, anxious, and stressed.
Stress and Gut Health
One of the ways the gut can send stressed-out messages to the brain is through the gut microbiota. This is the collection of little organisms that live in your gut. This includes both good and bad bacteria. When these little organisms aren’t balanced, it can lead to feelings of stress.1 In fact, researchers have gone so far as to call the bacteria in your gut “mind-altering microorganisms.”1 That’s why supplementing with good bacteria known as probiotics can actually make you feel more peaceful and less stressed.1
Probiotics have improved sleep in stressed people.2 They’ve also replenished the supply of good bacteria that are killed by stress.2 In medical students stressed out by academic exams, probiotics acted as stress-relief supplements.3 The probiotics relieved stress symptoms and lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Many other studies in humans show that the little organisms in your gut can provide natural stress relief. For example, a study of women showed probiotics affected activity of brain regions that regulate central processing of emotion and sensation.4 In another study, a randomized, placebo-controlled trial, researchers caused subjects to get stressed out by having them be excluded and rejected while playing a cyberball game.5 The people taking a probiotic dealt better with stress.
How Digestive Enzymes Reduce Stress
If your intestines are out of sorts, you likely aren’t absorbing enough nutrients that act as natural stress relievers. Take B vitamins, for example. These nutrients provide natural stress relief.6 But if you have GI problems like celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) this can interfere with absorption of B vitamins and other nutrients that reduce stress like magnesium, especially if you have diarrhea.7-9
A digestive enzyme supplement can keep your digestive tract healthy. This leads to better absorption of stress-relief vitamins like the Bs or calming minerals like magnesium.
A Vicious Circle
When you’re stressed you’re probably more likely to eat foods that don’t agree with your digestive system. This leads to a vicious circle. The stress causes you to eat unhealthily. This makes your intestines more unhealthy, which in turn causes the microbiota to send stress signals to your brain. And you become even more stressed. The best solution? Make a commitment to eat healthy most of the time. And for those times when you indulge, take a good digestive enzyme supplement. This will make it easier to digest carbs, milk sugar, and gluten.
More Easy Ways to Relieve Stress
In addition to taking a good digestive enzyme formula, try these gut-related stress-relief techniques to feel more calm and at peace:
- Take a good probiotic supplement. Aim for a multi-strain formula.
- Spend time outdoors in nature. Not only does this relieve stress and anger—it also changes your gut microbiota in a good way.10 Plus, the gut produces more of the feel-good hormone serotonin when you spend time outdoors.10
The bottom line? Giving your gut a little tender loving care is a powerful way to reduce stress. And one of the best ways you can show your gut a little TLC is by remembering to take your Confidence digestive enzymes. You’ll feel confident, relaxed, and ready to take on the world.
- Cryan JF, Dinan TG. Mind-altering microorganisms: the impact of the gut microbiota on brain and behaviour. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012;13(10):701-712.
- Nishida K, Sawada D, Kuwano Y, Tanaka H, Rokutan K. Health Benefits of Lactobacillus gasseri CP2305 Tablets in Young Adults Exposed to Chronic Stress: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2019;11(8).
- Takada M, Nishida K, Kataoka-Kato A, et al. Probiotic Lactobacillus casei strain Shirota relieves stress-associated symptoms by modulating the gut-brain interaction in human and animal models. Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2016;28(7):1027-1036.
- Tillisch K, Labus J, Kilpatrick L, et al. Consumption of fermented milk product with probiotic modulates brain activity. Gastroenterology. 2013;144(7):1394-1401, 1401.e1391-1394.
- Wang H, Braun C, Murphy EF, Enck P. Bifidobacterium longum 1714™ Strain Modulates Brain Activity of Healthy Volunteers During Social Stress. Am J Gastroenterol. 2019;114(7):1152-1162.
- Young LM, Pipingas A, White DJ, Gauci S, Scholey A. A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of B Vitamin Supplementation on Depressive Symptoms, Anxiety, and Stress: Effects on Healthy and 'At-Risk' Individuals. Nutrients. 2019;11(9).
- Malnutrition and IBD. Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. https://www.crohnscolitisfoundation.org/diet-and-nutrition/malnutrition-and-ibd Accessed June 27, 2021.
- Quigley EM. Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth: what it is and what it is not. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2014;30(2):141-146.
- Pickering G, Mazur A, Trousselard M, et al. Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited. Nutrients. 2020;12(12).
- Sobko T, Liang S, Cheng WHG, Tun HM. Impact of outdoor nature-related activities on gut microbiota, fecal serotonin, and perceived stress in preschool children: the Play&Grow randomized controlled trial. Sci Rep. 2020;10(1):21993.