Stress and your GUT – part1

CMBB_Counselling_Melbourne_Sauerkraut_6Jan2013Stress causes physiological changes in your body like elevated heart rate, your blood pressure may rise, and blood is pumped away from your midsection, going to your arms, legs, and head for quick thinking, fighting, or fleeing.

Chronic stress results in chronic inflammation, which chronically elevates cortisol, which induces insulin resistance and belly fat accumulation.

The stress response also causes a number of detrimental events in your gut, including:

-Decreased nutrient absorption
-Decreased oxygenation
-Less blood flow to your digestive system, which leads to decreased metabolism
-Decreased enzymatic output

The condition of your gut flora influences your immune response. If your gut flora is compromised you are more prone to cancer, autoimmune diseases and allergies.

Factors that can negatively influence your gut flora:

-A nutrient deficient diet of processed and fast foods
-Refined sugar
-Contraceptive pills

Being high in valuable probiotics and digestive enzymes makes Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) an ideal food to repopulate the gut with good flora.

Having been born and raised in Austria, sauerkraut and sauerkraut juice were one of my staple foods. But I have only recently become aware of its numerous health benefits. It is rich in vitamins C (apparently Captain James Cook reportedly took it on his sea voyages to prevent scurvy) as well as B2, potassium, calcium, iron and fiber. During the fermentation process vitamin B 12 and lactose acid bacteria are produced. This process continues in the digestive system, killing germs, improving digestion and strengthening intestinal walls. Lactic acid is a gentle laxative that helps the immune system and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Eating sauerkraut can even help to prevent colon cancer (October 2002 issue of the Journal of Agricultural Food and Chemistry).

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Camara RJ, Ziegler R, Begre S, Schoepfer AM, von Kanel R. Swiss inflammatory bowel disease cohort study (SIBDCS) group. The role of psychological stress in inflammatory bowel disease: quality assessment of methods of 18 prospective studies and suggestions for future research. Digestion 2009; 80: 129-139.

Beaumont W. Experiments and Observations on the Gastric Juice and the Physiology of Digestion. Edinburgh, Maclachlan and Stewart, 1838. 8. Laranjeira C, Pachnis V. Enteric nervous system development: recent progress and future challenges. Auton Neurosci 2009; 151: 61-69

Bercik P, et al. (2011) The anxiolytic effect of Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 involves vagal pathways for gut-brain communication. Neurogastroenterol Motil 23:1132–1139.

Bravo JA, et al. (2011) Ingestion of Lactobacillus strain regulates emotional behavior and central GABA receptor expression in a mouse via the vagus nerve. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108:16050–16055.

Farhadi A, Fields JZ, Keshavarzian A. Mucosal mast cells are pivotal elements in inflammatory bowel disease that connect the dots: stress, intestinal hyperpermeability and inflammation. World J Gastroenterol 2007; 13: 3027-3030.

Konturek PC, Brzozowski T, Konturek SJ. Stress and the gut: pathophysiology, clinical consequences, diagnostic approach and treatment options. J Physiol Pharmacol. 2011 Dec;62(6):591-9.


About Mensch - Connecting Mind Body Breath

I am committed to provide empowering information, to help you cope with painful emotions and support you towards personal growth and development. I combine my PhD in Psychology with 15 years of practical experience in counselling across clinical, corporate and community settings. Contact me on 0426 558 562 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation to talk about your needs or write me a quick email at
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