Gut Health and Stress

Welcome Hamden Dragons to another brilliant school year! You’ve done it! You’ve spent many a late-night studying, finishing countless papers, and/or trying to get a few more hours of extra class reading into your busy schedule… (I can attest to doing all three this very weekend). It’s true that life is rough, when considering the stress we put on ourselves and the pressure due to social mandates. However, time is fleeting and the limited amount of time spent at Hamden High is precious; so, it makes sense staying up past one’s bedtime to occasionally try and get ahead or to compete for the valedictorian spot. Your studious habits now will define not only your current year’s lifestyle, but will also play a significant role in determining your future. In other words, how well you perform in high school (academically and socially) will determine what college/trade will accept your applications, where you will live, and how you live. The factors are endless.

It’s easy to get bogged down under mandatory academic/social studies and lose sight of taking care of your body. You should listen to your body and respond accordingly. For instance, if you are stressed for an upcoming SAT and your body tells you that you needhealthy fud to take a breather, take time to meditate and destress.  According to Psychology Today Magazine, “Stress kills… [It leads] to high blood pressure and heart attacks and anxiety or depression.” (Evidence concluded after conducting the “Heart and Soul Study”).  Within this study numerous psychologists measured the selected person’s inflammatory cytokines to correlate the hypothesis that inflamed cytokines leads to autoimmune diseases. These inflammatory chemicals are released by our immune system which are meant to ward off pesky invaders such as viruses or bacteria. Yet, when our immune system is “over-activated” (due to poor gut health), then sickness prevails (i.e. the flu or strep throat). Furthermore, research stated in Psychology Today suggests “…stress is linked to bad cytokines (IL-6, TNF alpha, C reactive protein, etc.) and that stress is linked to PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder and anxiety disorders which are also linked to the bad cytokines… as is cardiovascular disease, even in psychologically healthy individuals. In addition, there are harmful behaviors which increase the inflammatory cytokines (substance abusesmoking), and ameliorating behaviors that decrease them (exercise, meditationsleep) less likely to be adhered to by those who have undergone inordinate psychological stress.” When in doubt, be aware of what you eat and listen to your body. If your gut health is failing then the rest of your body will suffer for it, and we all know that failure is not an option when considering our big future with college, work, and play!

Keep in mind that a healthy mind is linked to a healthy gut. It seems too good to be true, but evidence has shown that what you eat directly correlates to how well your brain and body will function. If you take care of yourself you will not often experience constant “brain fogs” and consistently feel slow or “out-of-it.” Your “brain-to-gut” health is incredibly fragile and interdependent to be a productive and happy individual; eat the right foods and remember to stay hydrated. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine,helthyscientists often refer to “the brain-to-gut” connection as the Enteric Nervous System (ENS). This system is located in your gastrointestinal tract from your rectum to esophagus and is neatly layered with over 100 million nerve cells responsible for controlling autonomous body functions. Now that you know this and winter is right around the corner, do not lose sight of taking care of yourself. Listen to your body and remember we are all human. The only thing we can do is try our best to succeed.


Works Cited

“The Brain-Gut Connection.” Johns Hopkins Medicine, Based in Baltimore, Maryland,

“Stress: The Killer Disease.” Psychology Today,