Sarah is a 32 year old mum. She is seemingly, the picture of a health & success. She has a beautiful family, and works in a very successful corporate job. She is very conscious of her nutrition and makes exercise a priority each morning even when life may seem a little hectic.
It is a different story for Sarah. She is quickly running out of time. She has a very high pressure job that encourages her to start as early as she needs and stay back as late as possible to get all of her work finished. She seems to be in the office all day, everyday but still manages to rush home to cook her family a nutritious dinner. Her absolute must is exercising everyday, so she always sacrifices a little extra sleep to either wake up and make the F45 session early in the morning or get to the gym after dinner and do her own session. She likes to think this keeps her sane each day. Sarah puts a high focus on eating gluten free, refined sugar free and only drinks once or twice a week. She also makes sure she cooks and prepares good meals for her family. She is essentially doing all the right things.
As work gets crazier, her sleep gets shorter and the expectations on Sarah gets larger and larger she starts to notice that she is feeling bloated after she eats her meals and that her bowel movements are so infrequent. She starts to notice that she is reacting to different foods that she once has no issue eating and they are making her feel moody and fatigued. She is tossing and turning through her sleep and just can’t seem to focus at work. Not to mention, besides keeping her same exercise schedule each week she can’t seem to fit her jeans anymore and feels like she is holding extra water weight.
What is happening to Sarah?
Besides her ‘healthy’ lifestyle of eating well and exercise, chronic stress is evident in Sarah’s life and causing harm to her digestive system. In simple terms, the bacteria in Sarah’s gut is starting to shift due to the inflammation created by stress which is causing an impaired environment in her small intestine and digestive lining.
From experiencing this story too often in clinic, I would be 100% confident in saying that Sarah's body is dealing with chronic stress which is putting strain on her adrenals and gut health. The chronic stress is causing a build up of toxins in the body, creating food allergies which can turn into autoimmune issues and is causing a decrease in gut motility which is resulting in constipation and bloating. Not to mention her chronic high impact and intense exercise and lack of sleep is causing burnout and adrenal issues that can develop into major thyroid issues such as hypothyroidism. This could explain the sudden weight gain and inflammation. This story is all too common and essentially describes very clearly what stress is, the impact it can have on the adrenal glands and then how the body reacts.
WHY AM I SHARING THIS STORY WITH YOU?
Well, stress is the most unrecognised and undiagnosed cause of digestive issues. Not to mention other chronic health issues. Stress is the most important lifestyle factor that needs to be looked at and regulated. WHY? Because, everything links back to stress...e.g eating inflammatory foods triggers the inflammation response and the body recognises this as STRESS.
We will look at exactly how chronic stress affect the adrenals and digestive health next.