Your Gut & Cortisol

Your gut contains trillions of microbial bacteria as well as yeasts, parasites, viruses, protozoa and archaea. It is more than 80% of your immune system. So, what does that have to do with the brain? Everything! The gut bacteria produce mood-regulating neurotransmitters that affect the chemistry of the brain and, ultimately your moods.

Cortisol (corticosterone) is one of the 20% “bad bacteria” that forms in the gut. Think, fight or flight hormone. Increased cortisol output creates decreased digestive functions. Not only can it interrupt “positive” brain hormones, affecting your moods, but creates gut imbalances, reducing immune system response. Simply stated, there is no mistake in the saying, “Listen to your gut”. It will help you reduce the “ping-pong” effect from the brain to gut cortisol reactions. Here are some symptoms that may occur with elevated cortisol/stress levels:

  • IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Leaky-Gut
  • Decreased “good” gut bacteria
  • Decreased brain serotonin & tryptophan
  • Irritability
  • Impulsiveness
  • Moodiness
  • Fear
  • Susceptibility to illness
  • Nutritional deficiencies

For more on information on gut issues, read: Intestinal Health ~ A Practical Guide to Complete Abdominal Comfort

A Cortisol “event” many be triggered by any of the following:

  • Hyper vigilance
  • Life events
  • Emotions
  • Poor diet
  • Environmental factors
  • Early-life traumas
  • Genetic factors
  • Medical procedures

Ultimately, the short and simple solution to maintaining a healthy gut and brain homeostasis is to regulate stress levels (lower cortisol), build your gut bacteria and the immune system. Here are some ideas you may incorporate:

  • Reduce high-fat diet
  • Increase Probiotics, Bifidobacteria, Lactobacillus, & Bacteroides
  • Improved healthy diet with cruciferous vegetables, fish, fruits, low fat meats and fibrous grains.
  • Increased cultured and fermented foods, such as yogurt, Kim chi, & sauerkraut.
  • Taking pre-biotics and pro-biotics
  • Increase water intake
  • Chew your food completely to ensure proper digestion & absorption
  • Quiet your mind with meditation, naps, and restful periods
  • Reduce sugar intake to reduce glucose levels and inflammation
  • Treat any pathogens & “bad” microbes with “good” cultures and herbicides
  • Reduce any toxic environmental stressors
  • Reduce antibiotic use
  • Improve personal hygiene
  • Exercise regularly
  • Consistent sleep patterns of deep, restful sleep

Keep in mind that long-term wear and tear of the brain-gut connection, via frequent cortisol responses, may weaken your intestinal lining. In turn, this weakens the blood barrier allowing the “bad” bacteria, pathogens, and microbes to enter your blood stream, causing mental and physical instabilities.

Quiet your mind to quiet your gut and support your gut to quiet your mind. Now, you will reap the benefits of looking, living, feeling, and acting better!

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