Adrenal Fatigue Is Causing Your IBS Symptoms…
Yes, it’s as simple as that.
Of course, the foods you eat matter, but if your digestion is faulty because of Adrenal Fatigue, nothing’s going to go smoothly.
When your stress response system is chronically activated, it suppresses your digestive function and creates disorders, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), leaky gut, and diarrhea.
If you’re reading this article, I’m going to assume you’ve been dealing with IBS or other GI issues for some time now. Those miserable symptoms may even have some guests: food allergies, candida overgrowth, chronic fatigue, body-wide aches and pains, depression, anxiety, or insomnia and sleep disturbance.
Our Gut Is Fighting The Proverbial “Stress Tiger”
Many of us already know stress leads to GI upset, but not everyone thinks about the physiological correlation between the stress response and the digestive process. Chronic stress is detrimental to the entire gastrointestinal process; it leads to more than just a little indigestion on a bad day.
If we’re in a stress response, the the limbic system of the brain is telling the entire body to gear up to fight the proverbial tiger. The “tiger” could be anything from the fast pace of our daily lives to a fender bender to the death of a loved one. Any stress, big or small, triggers our brain’s limbic system and puts us in the “fight-or-flight” state.
If there is no respite from stressors, the constant state of fight-or-flight leads to dysfunction within the stress response itself. Your limbic system becomes trigger-happy.
Your whole being begins to think the stress tiger is lurking around each corner all day, every day. If it perceives everything as a threat, then, by design, it will continually suppress your digestive function so you are able to deal with all those hazards. (After all, if you’re under attack, sitting down for a meal or having a bowel movement aren’t ideal activities.)
This chronically suppressed digestion is what leads to IBS, leaky gut, acid reflux, diarrhea, constipation, and dysbiosis.
What Is Picture-Perfect Digestion?
Digestion, when functioning properly, is a well-orchestrated process involving the nervous system, digestive enzymes, and stomach acid.
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) production in the stomach is the main stage of digestion. This is where the real work gets done. Strong hydrochloric acid levels are needed to initiate the chemical breakdown of food and to stimulate other digestive processes.
If you are stuck in a chronic stress response, the entire process digestive process shuts down, leading to IBS symptoms.
Once released, these digestive enzymes must be cleaved to be activated. That process is also dependent upon hydrochloric acid, which stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile to expedite fatty acid absorption.
The next stage of digestion is the release and activation of the many digestive enzymes required to process various foodstuffs. The pancreas is stimulated by hydrochloric acid to release pancreatic enzymes.
This entire digestive process is designed to take larger foodstuffs and break them down into smaller units for absorption. We cannot absorb protein, carbohydrates, or fat, but we can absorb amino acids, glucose, and lipids.
When your system is in “rest-and-digest” physiology, your entire digestive process is fully turned on and functions smoothly.
Adrenal Fatigue Clogs Up the Digestive Works
Believe it or not, your state of mind is crucial in the initial phase of the digestive process.
The mind is so powerful that an insulin release from the pancreas can occur by simply thinking about food.
There are several ways the digestive system is suppressed when we are stuck in a chronic stress response. The systematic shutdown starts with the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS)—the nerve side of the stress response system—and is mediated primarily through the main parasympathetic nerve, aka the vagus nerve.
Believe it or not, your state of mind either helps or hinders the digestive process.
This nerve controls the vast majority of the digestive process, from mouth to anus. But with chronic stress, our body “turns off” the vagus nerve, which then begins to suppress our appetite, salivary enzymes, stomach acid production, as well as restrict blood and nerve flow to the digestive organs.
Undigested Food Wreaks Havoc on Your Entire GI System
If you are stuck in a chronic stress response, the stimulation of the digestive process does not get triggered in anticipation of food. Instead, the entire process shuts down before it even starts. So, even though you eat, your digestive fire and all your digestive juices are compromised. Your food is not being properly digested.
The undigested food causes problems every step of the way and eventually may lead to any or all of the following.
— Leaky gut syndrome
— Hiatal hernia
— Heartburn and reflux
— Food allergies
— Diarrhea and/or constipation
— Gas and bloating
It’s All About Good Gut Bacteria
Eventually, the stomach slowly releases the undigested food into the small intestine where it should begin to be absorbed. But the poorly digested foodstuff is not small enough to be properly absorbed.
In time, this dysfunctional process can cause nutrient deficiencies and irritation of the mucosal lining. The delicate, absorptive small intestine is protected by a Teflon-like lining. only a millimeter thick, which begins to wear. This contributes to intestinal permeability, or leaky gut syndrome, which progresses into the development of food allergies.
Poor digestion causes much of the good gut bacteria to die.
Digested food moves through the intestine by rhythmic muscular contractions called peristaltic waves. This action is anchored in the nervous system, and more specifically by the vagus nerve. In a stress response, the vagus nerve is inhibited.
Once the food finally reaches the large intestine, it is difficult for the good bacteria to process it. It’s too large! It should have been broken down much more by this point.
The lack of proper processing causes some of the good bacteria to die. Then, the problematic bacteria flourish. This occurrence alters the very delicate bacterial balance in the colon. We call this dysbiosis.
A dysbiotic state contributes to a potential condition of yeast or intestinal candida overgrowth. And finally, the stage is being set for the potential development of irritable bowel syndrome. Inflammation of the bowel also contributes to the common symptoms of gas, bloating, diarrhea and/or constipation.
Treatment of a “Stressed-Out” Digestive System
The treatment of the digestive system does not start with addressing the digestive process at all.
The first step of healing is getting to the root of what’s inhibiting this delicate process. Symptomatically treating digestive disorders is the accepted treatment by mainstream medicine. That approach will alleviate some unpleasantries, such as heartburn, diarrhea, or belching, but that relief is temporary at best.
If the Adrenal Fatigue is not healed at the same time, the digestive issues and IBS symptoms will reoccur.