April was Stress Awareness Month, but stress is a part of our everyday life!
If left unchecked, stress can be deadly. In fact, stress is often referred to as the silent killer because although its effects are not immediately apparent, it can lead to several serious health problems such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
The biochemical changes that occur during times of stress have significant and immediate impact on gut and gut function.
Stress “kills” the good bacteria that is essential to your body—it keeps your immune system strong, helps you digest your food and absorb the nutrients, regulates your hormones, and prevents inflammation. Inflammation is the worst enemy of all as it is the precursor to all diseases.
All of us have experienced stress at some point in our lives, which means out guts have been compromised. And an unhealthy gut only exacerbates your stress.
I have three tips that can help you restore your gut flora and help you reduce stress.
- Avoid Artificial Sweeteners and Added Sugars
Several studies have shown that artificial sweeteners (such as those in diet soda or those little pink or blue packets you pour into your coffee can literally destroy your good bacteria.
Added sugar literally feeds the bad bacteria lurking in your gut. Not to mention more and more studies are linking added sugar to heart disease. Food brands will be required to list the added sugars in their products by July 2018.
I suggest honey or stevia as good alternative sweeteners.
In terms of honey, I especially love using Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey. Manuka honey has antimicrobial and ant inflammatory properties—basically the opposite of artificial sweeteners. This honey can strengthen your immune system and improve your gut flora.
Stevia is an awesome sugar alternative—it is not an artificial sweetener and it has no added sugar. I turn to Sweetleaf Stevia; this brand is the authority when it comes to stevia. Stevia comes from a plant and a little bit goes along way as it is 30 times sweeter than sugar. For example, a typical soda contains 9 teaspoons of sugar. To achieve the same sweetness with stevia, you would only need one teaspoon and wouldn’t have the harmful effects that added sugar causes!
Stevia contains dozens of nutrients as well. Stevia is a great choice for diabetics because it has a non-glycemic response. Visit Sweetleaf.com to find delicious recipes using stevia
- Take Probiotics
Probiotics are live, good bacteria. Taking probiotic supplements actually replenish good bacteria in your gut.
My favorite probiotic is Just Thrive. Many of the probiotics on the market not survive in your intestinal system so they aren’t all that helpful. With Thrive, 100% of the healthy flora, in their capsules, survives and hence, you thrive quite literally.
- Fill up on fiber.
Most people do not get nearly enough fiber in their diet. A healthy gut depends on fiber to move food along!
Be sure your diet has plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Make sure your snacks are fiber-ful too. Grab a piece of fruit or a 100-calorie pack of Setton Farms pistachios. Pistachios are not only loaded with fiber, but also have been proven to reduce stress. A recent Penn State study showed that the healthy fat and fiber combo in pistachios can reduce vascular stress, keeping your blood vessels open and relaxed during stressful moments.
Keep your gut in check—keep your stress in check! Your gut is often referred to as your second brain.
Treat your gut well and you will feel well.