Today we are talking through the second of the three types of stress that Dr Andrew Powell has informed us of, being chemical stress. Below, we chat with Dr Andrew about what chemical stress is, how it links to our gut health and how we can try to easily reduce it on a daily basis.
What is chemical stress?
We live in a world where we are bombarded by chemical stresses each day without even realising. It is in our food, the water we drink, our cosmetic products, clothing, in the air we breathe, and Dr Andrew explains that it can really affect our energy levels and how we feel. He goes on to explain that many aren’t aware that it has a significant impact on our mental health too.
Stress isn’t just about our emotions. The chemistry makeup in our body also can have a large influence on our stress levels as well. Dr Andrew emphasises gut health and the gut brain connection, which of course is a very topical subject at the moment when it comes to chemical stress. This very important connection between the brain and the gut does influence how your mind and body work and can really lead to a negative impact upon your mindset. Dr Andrew says, “Certain bacteria makeup within the gut has been largely linked to anxiety and depression.”
How can we improve our gut health and how does it help chemical stress?
One of the best and most common ways we can aim to improve our gut health is of course through our diet and what we ingest. Dr Andrew explained, “It is often said 50% of symptoms in the body come down to what you put in your mouth, and 50% is from what comes out of it.”
On top of this, looking at your microbial diversity is important, focusing on probiotics and increasing the fermented foods that we include in our diet like yoghurt, kombucha and sauerkraut for example.
Oftentimes if you find yourself feeling uncomfortable within your gut, which as stated above, has great influence on your brain and mental health, it is important to figure out what foods agree with you and what don’t. For one person, one food may agree and for the next, it doesn’t at all. We see so many intolerances and allergies in recent times, and in figuring these out, experimentation can be very helpful. Identifying intolerances such as gluten, dairy and IBS, experimentation in various forms is helpful and common. Listening to your gut is important, figuratively and literally. Talking to experts such as dieticians and nutritionists can be a great place to start with this.
Dr Powell stated that very often, our organs are not in a good state without us even realising it, and this will often show in our emotions and how we feel. He stated that if you feel cranky and irritated, in many cases this is due to the liver being filled with toxicity.
The first thing many think of first when talking about the liver and damage to it is alcohol. And whilst of course, high levels of drinking can absolutely lead to an unhappy liver, it is often the lesser known chemicals in the products we use on a day to day basis that could be causing more harm than we realise.
Many products like our shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and makeup can all lead to an overburdening of our livers with estrogen-like chemicals that are often added to these products. Dr Andrew explains here that hormones have a huge impact on our emotions, especially estrogen of course affecting women in particular. Often women find that the week before their period starts, when estrogen levels are higher, so are their anxiety levels. Pairing these natural cyclic hormone spikes with synthetic added hormones can add extra levels to these already high stressful and anxious feelings. The amygdala, our fear centre of the brain, is triggered when these hormones are increased too, being a place where the stress and worry is released.
In this instance, changing the brands and products that we use on a daily basis to more natural, less chemically enhanced versions can really be a simple and very beneficial way to help reduce your chemical stress levels. There are many more natural brands that are really rising in their popularity, with these realisations of what chemicals are doing to our mental health coming to the forefront. Changing even just one product here and there, such as your daily face cleanser or your foundation could make a great difference to your chemical stress, plus is a great way to also be more environmentally aware at the same time.