People take probiotic supplements because of the benign intestinal bacteria they contain. There are many types of those benign bacteria, some more beneficial for the gut than others. These types of supplements are assumed to help the gut function better – which they do – but benign gut bacteria do a lot more than that.
Stress in the gut
A large part of our immune system functions via the intestinal bacteria, as does our hormonal system. In fact, intestinal bacteria have a widespread effect on the body, up to and including your energy supply.
A poorly functioning intestine will be overgrown with harmful bacteria. This creates a situation known as “ gut stress ”.
The gut and the brain are connected by a large nerve called the Nervus Vagus, the most important nerve in the body. In the past, it was thought that this nerve path was only intended to send signals from the brain to the intestine. However the latest research shows that the Vagus nerve is primarily sending signals the other way around: from the gut to the brain. It’s as if the gut were a second brain. As a result, signs of stress in the gut are sent directly to the actual brain.
The function of the adrenal glands
When the brain receives a signal like that from the gut, it sends it directly on to the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands are two small organs, each the size of a walnut, that lie on top of our kidneys. They regulate, among other things, the stress response of our body by producing various hormones to help deal with it.
We are familiar with the action of the adrenal glands when we feel threatened, producing adrenaline to give us a boost and help avoid the threatening situation. However, this is not the only type of stress hormone that the adrenal glands make.
There is one type of hormone that is of great importance in long-term chronic stress situations: cortisol . Cortisol is intended by nature to keep us going in times of chronic stress. However, if the chronic stress persists too long and the adrenal glands keep producing cortisol, there are all kinds of negative consequences for the body.
Too much cortisol
Long-term elevated levels of cortisol can have many effects, including the loss of your natural ability to control your weight. Fatigue can result from increased cortisol levels. Your sleep rhythm can be disrupted, leading to anything from poor sleep to severe insomnia. And low cortisol can interfere with your ability to properly make proteins such as collagen, without which your skin can wrinkle. It also lowers the functioning of the immune system and digestive system.
Even though you are not experiencing external stress in life, an elevated cortisol level can still make you feel as if you are stressed. If it remains elevated for too long, the adrenal glands become overworked.
How adrenal exhaustion comes about
If an organ has had to work too hard for an extended period of time, it will need time to recover. When that happens to the adrenal glands, we speak of adrenal exhaustion . The adrenal glands have had to work too long and too hard and finally they just stop. This creates a shortage of cortisol, which is worse than having too much. Surprisingly, it started because the initial level was high.
How to get the gut in balance
A balance between the benign and the pathogenic bacteria in the gut is therefore extremely important for our overall health. A regular colon cleanse is the best first step in restoring that balance. It should be followed by a period when the intestinal wall is allowed to heal and only then should one start taking probiotic supplements again.
Nutrition for good intestinal bacteria
Your intestinal bacteria need to be fed. After they arrive in the intestine, they have to strengthen and multiply which is only possible if they get good nutrition. We call a product that feeds only the good intestinal bacteria a prebiotic.
The pathogenic intestinal bacteria, on the other hand, feed on rotting, fermenting food residues and sugars among other things.
Further steps to lower cortisol levels
Taking a quality supplement containing good intestinal bacteria can have a major impact on the health of the whole body. In addition, there are other measures you can take to keep your cortisol level low: get enough rest, sleep eight hours a night, get plenty of fresh air, avoid over-exercising, don’t overdo the caffeine or energy drinks and eat plenty of healthy, home-cooked meals including ample fresh vegetables.
In summary, there is a lot we can do ourselves to make our body function properly. The above steps are easy to apply and will positively affect your entire body.