Understanding the Gut Brain Axis is Key to Managing Stress


4 – 8 Nov, 2019 marks International Stress Awareness Week.

Understanding and managing stress is key to your well being.  Typically, your gut is unhappy because of stress. Research has shown that the stress response can alter the natural balance of healthy bacteria in your gut, causing the gut ecosystem to shift in favour of a more hostile group of bacteria.

Some Mind Body Cleanse techniques that I describe in my book ‘Mind Body Cleanse’ by Chris James (Penguin Books)  can help and incorporating them as part of your daily routine can take as little as ten minutes every day – however, those few minutes will pay off with great rewards for your gut, stress levels and your general wellness.

Gut brain axis

The Gut Brain Axis


Stress is thought to be among the most important stimuli monitored through the gut brain axis.  When the brain senses a major issue, such as anger or fear, or that it is late for an appointment, it naturally wants to solve the problem. In order to solve the issue the brain needs energy, which it mainly borrows from the gut. Through the sympathetic nerve fibres the gut is instructed to obey the brain. The gut reduces blood supply and saves energy from temporarily digesting food because of this perceived emergency situation.

This system is not designed for over-use forever. However, if the brain thinks that it is in an emergency for the long term, the overworked gut will respond with negative stimulus, which may include diarrhoea, loss of appetite and fatigue. And if this situation is not checked over time, the health of the gut will eventually suffer. A reduced blood supply and a thinner layer of mucus will weaken the gut walls. The immune cells that live in the gut wall begin to secrete large amounts of signal substances that make the gut brain increasingly sensitive and eventually may influence behaviour and lead to illness down the line, such as Leaky Gut syndrome.


Making changes


Over the years I have been amazed at how simple lifestyle and eating habits have influenced behavioural, psychiatric and emotional issues with my one-on-one clients. Often clients have been so toxic that it has been a struggle to make real positive health changes, which require modifications in lifestyle and eating habits.

Marcus was a case like this:

“I am 45 now, and have been morbidly overweight for most of my life.

After several months of yoga and plenty of water to flush out my system Chris finally let me go on to his 12-Day Plan. I was reluctant because I didn’t think I’d make it 12 days without meat, cheese, pasta or fried food.
I cheated on Day 1 and had some salmon. Day 2, I craved meat or fish, but resisted. Day 3, no cravings and in fact I started enjoying my outrageously delicious and varied salads, my sprouting beans and lentils, my hummus, olive oil, raw garlic, lime, coriander and a slew of spices and other herbs. I completed each stage of the Cleanse looking forward to the next day of my adventure with healthy eating. Days 7, 8 and 9 I felt amazing and had no symptoms to cause me concern, and then back to a gentle weaning off liquid for the last three days.

I have so far lost 55lb from my highest weight last year. I wake up without back pain and have a spring in my step. I do my yoga and I feel euphoric all day. I can’t even look at the food I used to love without my stomach turning. And the quality of my life at home and at work has improved considerably.

My goal is to lose another 110lb in five years, though at this rate I’ll do that long before my birthday in 2018.”

Marcus is one of hundreds of clients I have seen undergo a remarkable transformation in wellness after rebalancing their gut and following the 12-Day Plan. An important realisation for Marcus is that you are far more in control of how you feel by how you eat and lifestyle factors than you realise.



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For your top tips on creating optimal health and top tips to help you manage stress in the mind and body, read Chris James new book –‘Mind Body Cleanse’ by Chris James (Penguin Vermilion, £14.99). Available from Amazon.


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