I don’t think about the night my Father died very often… it still hurts too much.
He had a massive heart attack on a cold night in December 2007…
And I was the one who found him.
He was already gone.
I remember screaming.
Police and fire.
The Medical Examiner.
and then it got quiet again.
That’s when I had the most horrific diarrhea session I’ve ever experienced. It was more violent than any stomach virus or food poisoning imaginable…
My body was out-of-control and I could hardly get a hold of myself.
That’s the first time I realized the incredible power that stress has over my body… and started my quest to better manage stress and the digestive system.
If you want to heal your gut and control the symptoms of digestive disease – you have to get a handle on the stress and digestion in your life… or it will undermine all the work you’re doing following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and using supplementation to take control of your health.
Stress Used to Keep Us Alive…
Stress is about more than just being stuck in traffic or fighting with a spouse over bills.
Stress causes a natural physiological (chemical) response in the body with the core purpose of keeping us alive. In fact, this “fight or flight” chemical response used to save our ancestors every day while they roamed the earth dodging Saber-Tooth Tigers and Woolly Mammoths.
During stress, the Adrenal Glands release the “stress hormones” cortisol, epinephrine, and norepenephine.
Why is that important?
These chemicals put our body into a state of “Flight or Fight,” which was great for our ancestors. It gave them a short burst of heightened awareness and the energy to stay alive no matter what threat they were up against.
Here’s the problem: now we roam the earth well protected in safe cars, safe homes, and comfy work places… not running from Woolly Mammoths.
Short bursts of life or death stress like our ancestors experienced are rare in today’s world, unless you get mugged or something.
The majority of the stress we experience in today’s world is the chronic form – things like not getting enough sleep, going to work, family issues, health issues, not having enough money… and unfortunately the body can’t distinguish threat levels like our government.
Our body responds with a “code red” and activates the “Fight or Flight” response just like it’s programmed.
So physiologically, as soon as you roll out of bed, your body is acting like you’re running from saber-tooth tigers all day.
It’s just not good for us.
Chronic stress keeps cortisol levels high and disrupts the body’s natural 24-hour cortisol rhythm that rises and falls throughout the day.
Not only that, but elevated cortisol:
- Raises blood sugar
- Suppresses Immune function and healing
- Promotes leaky gut syndrome
- Causes hormone imbalance
- Increases depression and anxiety
- Altered digestive motility processes
The bottom line: chronic stress really messes with your body… especially the digestive system.
Properly managing stress can help you improve your digestion. That’s why I’m going to focus on managing stress in your life… so you can keep working on controlling stress and the digestive system preventing you from living a symptom-free life.
But Managing Stress and Digestion is Tricky
Here are three tips for managing stress to improve digestion. Pick one of these three things and test it for the next seven days…
1) Quit the news cold turkey
Before I get into the complex stuff I want to share the number one thing that helped me manage stress and the digestive system in my life.
I STOPPED reading, watching, and getting sucked into the news.
Try it for 7 days and see how you feel.
(I’ve heard that on average, 14 out of 15 news stories are negative.)
Don’t worry, you’ll still find out what’s going on in the world from friends and co-workers… without being exposed to the negativity and stress that you’ll find on the news most days.
Doing just that one thing for the next 7 days will likely have a dramatic impact on the stress you feel throughout the day.
I’ve practiced meditation over the years and I used to think that it reduced my stress. But it was more indirect than that.
Meditation increased my awareness of the present moment and allowed me to experience more joy in my daily life.
If you’re just starting out I would recommend Jon Kabat-Zinn’s book Wherever You Go There You Are.
I’ve been very impressed with his work in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which combines both Meditation and Yoga to improve physical and emotional health. You can learn more about his methods in another of his books, Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain and Illness.
3 ) Cultivate Your Social Life
Staying cooped up inside the house can actually make you sicker and increase the impact stress has on your body.
A 1995 Cleveland Clinic study that says, “Social support appeared to play an important role in moderating the effects of pain, functional limitation and even depression on the subject’s quality of life.”
Also, a 2003 PNEC study found that, “Social interactions buffer against stress and they promote wound healing. And the data implies that social isolation impairs wound healing.”
So how does your social life tie in to all of this?
It has everything to do with the Oxytocin that gets released in response to both physical contact and social behavior.
Oxytocin can suppress your body’s reaction to stress.
It improves your immune system and your ability to heal because it decreases the impact of cortisol during “Fight or Flight” stress response, which is crucial during the inflammatory stage of healing.
So, the takeaway point here is: get out of the house and have some fun with friends and family…
Not only will it help you manage stress, but it will help you heal your digestive problems.
So, call your friend and make some time to catch a movie… or take your Mom out for a walk. It matters…
Managing Stress is Just as Important as Diet…
If you want to heal your gut and control the symptoms of digestive disease, you have to learn how to manage the stress in your life.
Stress will undermine all the work you’re doing following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet and using supplementation to take control of your health.
Make stress management just as important as the other areas you’re working on.