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Stress and Digestion Part 3-Rescuing Your Digestive System


March 16, 2012 | Published by

relaxed woman on bench by Flickr user Katia Romanova

Rescuing Your Digestive System

Although it is not possible to avoid all stress, it is beneficial to keep stress at a manageable level and allow your parasympathetic nervous system to have a chance to repair your body. Here are some things you can do to help:

• Exercise can help decrease stress hormones in the same way that a physical response to stress worked in our ancestors

• Laugh! It has been shown to reduce cortisol

• Practice yoga or listen to music – Doing so decreases cortisol and the sympathetic stress response

• Take mini-breaks – Just by standing up from your desk and stretching for a few minutes, or taking time to actually chew and taste a healthy lunch rather than hurriedly gobbling something down, you can encourage a parasympathetic response that supports your digestion

• Any activity (not including the use of alcohol or drugs) that allows you to release your stress, to relax, or to slow your heart rate helps your parasympathetic nervous system get back in the driver’s seat, repairing your intestines, absorbing nutrients and allowing your digestive system to function normally

Supplemental Support in Times of Stress

In addition to these lifestyle changes, incorporating supplements that provide focused digestive and adrenal support can make a big difference in enhancing your digestive system’s resilience to stress.

For the Digestive System:

• Natural fibers such as psyllium, oat bran, rice bran, prunes, ginger, fenugreek seed and vegetable cellulose help restore normal intestinal mobility

• Digestive enzymes such as papaya or betaine HCl help break down food when the body is not secreting enough enzymes on its own

• Beneficial bacteria, such as lactobacillus and bifidobacteria, along with fructooligosaccharides (FOS) which feed them, can help reestablish a balanced intestinal environment

• MSM and glycine reduce inflammation and help maintain the health of the digestive tract lining

• L-glutamine, glutamic acid and quercetin enhance the integrity of the intestinal lining

• Herbs like echinacea, slippery elm and ginger soothe and protect the intestines

• Nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, manganese and phosphatidylcholine are important for normal tissue growth and repair

• Mastic gum, MSM, licorice and glycine are anti-inflammatory and may help to soothe and protect irritated digestive tracts

• Ginger helps reduce nausea and vomiting and aids normal movement of food through the stomach

• Goldenseal, vitamin A and echinacea help promote healthy immune function

• Citrus bioflavonoids increase mucus secretion in the intestines and help protect intestinal cells

For the Adrenals and Nervous System:

• Vitamins A, C and E help modulate the stress response

• B vitamins and choline are required for the normal functioning of the nervous system

• Vitamin C is rapidly depleted in stressful times and needs to be replenished in order for the body to continue to handle stress

• Bioflavonoids increase absorption and effectiveness of vitamin C

• Eleutherococcus is anti-inflammatory and helps curb excessive physiologic changes to stress

• Ashwagandha and maca help modulate many of the adverse changes which accompany stress, including elevated cortisol

• Alfalfa helps protect the nervous system

By supporting your body in times of stress, not only will your digestive tract be healthier, but it will provide your whole body with the nutrients you need to be more resilient to stress and live a healthier, more balanced and productive life. For more on Dr. Wilson’s supplements for digestive support, click here

Read part 1 -Digestion and the Nervous System

Read part 2 – When Stress Takes Over

Image Credit: Woman on bench by Flickr user Katia Romanova

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  • Swoozy says:

    I sure wish I could get some good help with my Adrenal Fatigue. All of those adrenal remedies cause my heart to race and I hate the feeling so I stop taking them. It started over 20 years ago and now I have many symptoms – including no armpit hair growth, which I’m sure most women would be happy with, but when have to deal with what has caused it to happen, it’s not so much fun …

  • Matina says:

    This is not really a comment but a question in response to this blog. I have found all of this information to be ‘valid’ as I have adrenal fatigue and get support from both my doctors and naturalpath doctor. However, though I must have obviously stressed my adrenal some years back when I was placed on an antidepressant many years back; the true damage came in trying to withdraw. So while I have been successful in getting very close to being off of that medicine through following the much needed protocols of these nutrients and the eliminating foods, etc., from my diet, along with another sight that encouraged sleeping or resting at least from 10pm to 8am; I would like to add that it is important to not mix some of these herbs with anti depressants or other drugs if you are using them. In saying that I would ask that you blog some information about which herbs to avoid, and which would actually be the most beneficial for added support in such a case. I know many people who have suffered from adrenal fatigue from withdrawals of these drugs and like me in the past felt no alternative but to return to them.

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