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Why Stress Breaks Down The Gut

Apr 28, 2021

Dealing with constant stress is no fun! And working Mumma’s have an intense amount of it!

When that stress comes with bloating, stomach pain, and runs - it should be a major wake-up call!

There are reasons why Working Mummy overwhelm and tummy troubles go hand in hand with chronic stress. And in this article, we’ll share how stress breaks down the gut and what to do about it.


How Coping Habits in Times of Stress Wreak Gut Havoc

Normally when mothers are feeling stressed, the last thing on their mind is protecting or taking care of their gut health-- or even just doing self-care.

And it’s no wonder -- because the message working women get is to “power through”, “keep working”, and “just do it” - and almost always, put the kids first, and themselves last. 

But the truth of the matter is stress isn’t just bad because it makes us feel out of control, it has a direct biological impact on how well your gut functions. This of course has a ripple effect on your productivity and also your ability to be a present, loving Mum!

Unfortunately, most of the go-to habits that Mum’s rely on, to keep themselves going during stressful times create a double whammy effect.  Loading up on caffeine, sweets, and even wine and cigarettes, can ramp up this stress response and put your gut health into an even more dangerous zone by feeding unfriendly bacteria and causing a wide range of gut imbalances.


3 Major Ways Stress Breaks Down the Gut

In fact, regular stress breaks down your gut in three major ways. 

  1. One way this happens is that stress switches you from the parasympathetic nervous system to the sympathetic nervous system. So you're not able to rest and digest. This also means you can’t break down foods as well and this can damage digestive organs, cause fermentation in the gut, and allow bacteria to grow out of control.
  2. Secondly, when you are stressed you are releasing a lot of the stress hormone cortisol and that interacts with your secretory IgA or the immune response in your gut lining. This can permit pathogens to grow or even bacteria or yeast-like candida to take control of your gut (and of you!). That’s why a lot of women suffering from GI issues due to stress can experience brain fog, anxiety, and more aches and pains caused by these yeast and bacterial overgrowths. Literally, your feelings of overwhelm and your over-reactivity with your kids - where you’re snapping at them all the time, like a Dragon Mum! - could be influenced by dysbiosis in your gut.
  3. The third one: stress, specifical cortisol, puts you into a catabolic state, where your body actually starts eating away at muscle tissue and pulling on minerals from the bone. Being in this state, which can also be caused by over-exercising, can cause extreme fatigue, joint and muscle pain, mental health, and sleep issues. When you are regularly in a catabolic state it can also lead to food intolerances, allergies, and even conditions like Leaky Gut, as your gut lining (which is muscle tissue) is constantly being eaten away.

So this is why many women develop allergies later in life and chalk it up to “high pollen counts” or just getting older or “I developed allergies after I had babies”, when in fact it’s a gut issue.


The Process To Address Stress & The Gut

When we work with busy parents to heal both their gut and manage their stress, we'll start off with our Mind-Body initial consultation to look at all the factors that could be contributing to their current state of health. 

Then we move on to testing and we also look at their adrenal function as so many Mumma’s are suffering from poor adrenal health, after pregnancy and childbirth and breastfeeding and multitasking and all those sleepless nights. These things stack up over the years, even when your kids are older your adrenals may not have bounced back.

We also evaluate neurotransmitter levels because sometimes the adrenal glands are fine, but it's actually the brain or a depletion of the neurotransmitters, that's putting them into that stress state. And poor gut health can actually cause that because most of your neurotransmitters are made in the gut.

In terms of gut testing, we may do a SIBO breath test or a comprehensive microbiome stool test depending on what the person is presenting in their case.

We also have an option to test the detox system to see if you are able to detox correctly or need a little more support in that area, as this can affect your stress levels and also your gut function.

Once we have this valuable data we can cross-reference the three key or three major body systems and we have all that information. 

While we're waiting for tests, we do a lot of thought, feeling & behaviour work with people. We also take them through our signature online education protocol, where we coach clients through the foundations for mind-body healing.

Our protocol guides you through mindset and all the lifestyle and relationship components that you can implement easily from the comfort of your own home.  It's really, really geared towards working parents (Dads, as well as Mums!) who are highly stressed, overwhelmed, and are addicted to doing so that they can feel more balanced and learn natural ways to destress, and to most importantly, become that present,  healthy and connected parent that they’ve always wanted to be.

And the great thing is… by the time we get the test results back and start the therapeutic program, most people are starting to feel really good and seeing some improvement already. 


Learn More About Stress & Gut Health In Our FREE Video Course

To go deeper on the topic of stress and gut health,  and the impact this is having on your family, register at this link for our free video course series on Conquering Hormonal & Gut Burnout & Rebalancing Naturally - 

Co-Authors: Chris & Filipa Bellette are the Co-Founders of Chris & Filly Functional Medicine, which is best known for turning time-poor, burned-out & frustrated professional working Mums & Dads, into Power Parents who are present, healthy & connected to their family, their passion, and their purpose in this world. They have worked with over 2,000+ burnout clients in the last 10+ years, with their own passion for creating Power Parents coming from their own personal experience of body, mind & family breakdown, after a prolonged period of physical and mental stress.


Filipa is an accredited Clinical Nutritionist, and a Functional Medicine Practitioner, graduating from the Kalish Institute of Functional Medicine. She is also a Ph.D. thought-leader, author, and award-winner writer in Human Rights. Chris is an accredited Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) Master Practitioner, holistic personal trainer, and holds a Bachelor of Human Movement Science, and has won multiple placings in state and national level sporting competitions.

To find out if this is something we can help you with, head over to book in for a - Free Discovery Call

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