When it comes to finding the root cause of your bloating, it can feel like a never-ending journey. Your diet is on point, you’ve changed your whole exercise routine, but you’re still uncomfortable. When it comes to healing, we often forget about our stress. HPA axis dysregulation and IBS can be the last thing that needs healing!
When I talk about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), I am talking about them as a group of symptoms. The common symptoms are:
- Stomach Cramps/Pain
- Bowel Changes (i.e. constipation, diarrhea, alternating)
How many times have you gone to Doctor/Specialist and have them diagnose you with IBS? Trust me I’ve been there and I totally get your frustration. Besides changing your nutrition and exercise, looking at your stress can be a gamechanger!
What is your HPA Axis?
The HPA Axis stands for the hypothalamus, Pituitary Glands, Adrenal Glands Axis. These 3 key organs are responsible for your fight-or-flight response. It is also responsible for:
- Mineral Balance
- Blood Pressure
- Regulation of Sex Hormones
- Blood Sugar Balance
- Tissue Permeability
- Cardiac Function
- Digestive Function
As you can see it is very important that the communication between these organs is functioning! However, with the amount of stress we have in our lives it can be easy to dysregulate them. Source: Here and Here
How do i know if i have HPA AXIS Dysregulation?
When the communication is disrupted, a lot of bodily functions are affected. What causes the dysfunction is being in a constant state of chronic stress. This can be low-grade in which your body is frozen in this high cortisol state. Some common symptoms to look for are:
- Difficulty Falling/Staying Asleep
- Tired in the Morning and Energized at Night
- Fatigued All Day Long
- Memory Changes
- Weight Gain (i.e. around the stomach)
- Blood Sugar Dysregulation’
- Cravings for Sugar/Carbs
- Overusing Caffeine Beverages
- Bloating and Gas
- Bowel Changes
- Suppressed Immunity
It is More than just Adrenal Fatigue
You may know this better as Adrenal Fatigue, but all these symptoms aren’t caused by just your adrenal glands. Chronic stress can cause our HPA Axis to down-regulate to protect itself from the stress. This also means down-regulation of DHEA, which is a hormone needed for our sex hormones.
Cortisol and DHEA are created by the adrenals to manage stressful situations. However, when cortisol is too high and DHEA is low (or normal) this imbalance causes stress to the HPA Axis. This can also deplete the benefits of the “feel-good” neurotransmitters (Serotonin and GABA).
How does this connect to my IBS Symptoms?
There are A LOT of things that can be causing your symptoms. However, getting your stress under control is critical for any healing protocol. You can’t heal if your body when it is preparing to fight or flee for its life.
Stress takes us out of that rest and digest state. Why would we digest our lunch if we are under attack? By constantly being in this state, food cannot move through our system efficiently causing bloating, gas, and bowel changes.
Hormonally what happens is an imbalance between CRH and cortisol. CRH is the hormone responsible for our body’s response to stress. If we have too much CRH and low cortisol it can cause diarrhea. If we have too much cortisol and low CRH it can cause constipation.
This is important as it can point you in the direction of what hormones are imbalanced! Another concern is the effects it has on our microbiome. We want a balance of good and bad bacteria. However, when our immune system is suppressed we can see an increase in bad bacteria. This can lead to bacterial overgrowth. Source: Here and Here
How do I balance out my HPA Axis?
Tests: This is important because healing any gut dysbiosis and hormonal imbalance will help to take the stress off your HPA Axis.
- Stool Test
- Breath Test (optional)
- Thyroid Panel
- Cortisol and DHEA Blood Test
Lifestyle: This is what you can start doing now to reduce your stress.
- Create a self-care routine that relaxes you
- Get at least 8+ hours of sleep per night
- Eat a whole-foods based diet
- Reduce your exercising to light walks, yoga, etc
Supplements: These are great ones to take daily for anyone along without whatever specific supplements you need.
- Spore-Based Probiotic
- Cod Liver Oil (unless you’re already eating fish 3-4x per week)
- CBD oil (optional)
I hope this heals you find the next steps you need to take in our to get rid of that bloating for good! If you need more guidance or support, I would love to chat with you!
Thank youu so much for reading!
**This information is not meant as medical or nutritional advice. Always check with your qualified healthcare professional before incorporating new supplements or nutritional changes into your routine. A Primal Health Coach (PHC) is trained to evaluate nutritional needs and make recommendations for dietary changes and nutritional supplements. A PHC is unable to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease or medical condition. I cannot guarantee any specific result from recommendations as we are all bio-individually different. If you are under the care of a healthcare provider, it is important that you contact them and alert them to any changes in your lifestyle in regards to nutrition and supplements. A health coach may be a beneficial addition to more traditional care, and it may also alter your need for medication, so it is important you always keep your physician informed of changes in your nutritional program.