The Stressed Gut Type


Emotional stress combined with the overconsumption of sugar and carbohydrates stresses the adrenal and thyroid glands as well as the kidneys, resulting in increased gut permeability and a stressed gut.

The gut microbes are very sensitive to stress. When we get stressed, our bodies release the hormones adrenalin and cortisol which stop the growth of beneficial bacteria in the digestive system and increase the proliferation of unfriendly yeasts instead. This imbalance in gut microbes contributes to leakiness in the gut barrier.

Symptoms related to the stressed gut type include:

  • Reduced digestive enzyme production
  • Impaired nutrient absorption
  • A reduction of oxygen supply to the organs
  • Reduced blood flow to the digestive tract

The stress hormones released by the adrenal glands increase our cardiovascular output, regulate our blood pressure, manage our immune response, and suppress inflammatory reactions, but in the presence of a leaky gut, the adrenal glands struggle to keep these protective responses up which makes us more susceptible to chronic disease and autoimmune diseases like Hashimoto’s disease. 

Individuals who struggle with indecisiveness, uncertainty, or fear in response to conflict situations are most likely to experience symptoms related to the stressed gut type as are the over-achievers, workaholics or those who tend to over-analyse and over think things.

Chronic or prolonged stress not only affects the digestive system of this type, but it also influences several hormone functions. When the adrenal glands can no longer cope with the constant burden of stress, adrenal insufficiency sets in and people start to experience symptoms such as chronic fatigue, depression, increased food intolerances and allergies, sleep problems, weak muscles, problems focusing, sugar cravings, chronic pain, hair loss, weight gain.

Stress management, along with a supportive lifestyle is vital for this gut type.

This gut type should ideally avoid sugar, gluten grains, caffeine, and alcohol. Sugar and grains put strain on the kidneys and thyroid gland and regular consumption harms the integrity of the gut barrier causing a leaky gut. Caffeine disrupts the sleep cycle which hinders the repair of the adrenal function and alcohol triggers inflammation.

Foods that are supportive of healing include fermented foods such as yoghurt or kefir, and foods that are high in vitamin B12. These include liver, beef, lamb, chicken, fish, and eggs. Nutritional yeast is also a good source of vitamin B12.

Other therapeutic foods include:

  • Those that are dark in colour like berries, grapes, pomegranates, cherries, red cabbage, eggplant, and black beans.
  • Salty foods like miso soup, kale chips, hummus, pumpkin seeds
  • Magnesium rich foods like nuts, sea vegetables, avocados
  • Sea salt or Himalayan salt which help to restore the electrolyte balance

Supplements that are helpful for this gut type include vitamin B12, selenium (brazil nuts), l-glutamine, and adaptogenic herbs such as ashwaganda, rhodiola, and licorice root. Tulsi tea and chamomile tea are also wonderfully calming teas which can be consumed throughout the day. 

Listen to my interview with Brad Kirsten from Radio Cape Pulpit on 8 February 2024 to learn more. Listen to my next interview on Thursday at 7.45am.