Sugar, Stress, and Gut Health

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

With all of the holiday magic and fun comes absolutely no stress, right?

Ha, just kidding! Combine the additional stress with all the yummy, sugary treats and it can make for a less than ideal situation for your gut to thrive. Sugar and stress have both been proven to have negative effects on overall gut health. You may be noticing some increased abdominal bloating, cramping/pain, increased gas, or change in bowel habits. Or maybe you are feeling a little more disoriented with an increase in brain fog, headaches, or ‘puffiness’ in your fingers – all of these can be signs of gut dysbiosis, or gut imbalance.

Our gut is full of bacteria – sounds kinda gross, right? Actually, having gut bacteria is a good thing as these bacteria play a crucial role in healthy digestion and immunity. A diet that is high in processed food and added sugars can eliminate the beneficial gut bacteria, causing an imbalance in the gut. This then leads to our body increasing sugar cravings for sugar, further eliminating good bacteria. What a vicious cycle!

Studies have shown that stressful life events are associated with increased onset of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), and peptic ulcer disease.

Tips to help maintain good gut health during holiday season:


Performing proper diaphragmatic breathing can help with overall relaxation of your nervous system, helping to regulate those feelings of holiday stress and anxiety. Not sure if you’re breathing right? Ask your Apex PT for help!


Supplementing with a good, quality probiotic can be very beneficial to maintaining good gut health as the good gut bacteria feeds off probiotics and probiotic-rich foods. Apex offers a high-quality probiotic for sale at all of our locations.

Keep your plate colorful

the holiday season is a time to enjoy those seasonal treats that only come around this time of year. And you should enjoy them! But also, try to be mindful of making sure you still get an adequate fruit, veggies and other whole foods that will positively feed your gut!

Visceral Manipulation

Now’s a time where your gut might need a little extra ‘hug!’ Apex has a group of DPT’s who are trained in visceral manipulation of the gastrointestinal system, helping to control bloating, abdominal pain/cramping, and keeping bowels on track!

Stay Active!

Aim to get in some sort of movement consistently. Exercise is a very well-known stress reliever as well as a promoter of good bowel health and decreased bloating – a double whammy!

From all of us at Apex Physical Therapy and Wellness Center, we are wishing you and your loved ones a happy, healthy, and low-stress holiday season!

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