The Surprising Way to Reduce Wedding Stress: Keep Your Gut Healthy and Happy!

The Surprising Way to Reduce Wedding Stress: Keep Your Gut Healthy and Happy!

  • Gut Health

  • By Desiree Nielsen, Registered Dietitian

    Wedding planning. It’s a monumental task. For some of us, it is the biggest event we will ever plan…and pay for!

    Planning my own wedding was not something I embraced with, ahem, enthusiasm. So many decisions, so much stress! Other decisions seemed far easier for me. Marry the love of my life? Celebrate it with those we love the most? Eat some good food and dance the night away? You bet…so that meant the event needed to be planned! Despite the mini-meltdowns, waking up on my wedding day was like a dream come true. Worth every painstaking decision and negotiation!

    Even if you are over the moon planning the event of your dreams, there is no mistaking that it can be a bit stressful. Not only are you trying to plan every last detail and figure out how to pay for it all, but you are also trying to look and feel your best before you say “I do.”

    It’s the perfect storm for a gut-brain disaster.

    Stress and Your Gut

    You may be surprised to learn that there is a very intimate connection between digestive health and mental well-being. Your digestive tract has a complex nervous system that contains even more nerve cells than your spinal cord! And serotonin, that “feel good” neurotransmitter? A whopping 95% of it is produced in your gut, not your brain. Naturally, when your mind is under chronic stress, digestion may suffer.

    Seem far-fetched? Think of how often we refer to this gut-brain connection in our daily lives. Getting “butterflies in your stomach” at the thought of walking down the aisle? Or how stress can “tie your gut in knots?” It’s true! The very same serotonin that helps you to feel a sense of well-being also regulates the natural movement of the gut, known as peristalsis. Your gut is one long muscular tube, and peristalsis, governed by serotonin, helps move food through the digestive process. Stress can speed this movement up…or slow it down. And when it slows down, bloating can plague your digestive well-being.

    What causes the bloating? There are a few potential culprits: the physical presence of digesta in the gut, and inflammation, which can cause water retention and intestinal gas. I think it’s time to get a bit impolite here, folks.   

    Everybody poops. There, I said it. Having a healthy, daily elimination routine is one of the best ways to keep bloating at bay. When elimination is sluggish, stool can build up in the gut, taking up space and making you feel bloated. The best way to get things moving? Exercise daily and eat more fiber-rich plant foods. If your gut is a muscle, fiber is like a personal trainer for that muscle. Insoluble fiber from whole grains, seeds and fibrous vegetables helps to sweep things through the gut, while soluble fiber from beans, oats, oranges, chia, and avocado help to form a soothing gel which hydrates and encourages elimination. If you don’t move your bowels daily, get on the fiber train and chase that fiber with plenty of water before the big day.

    Fermentation inside…and out

    It’s funny to think about where intestinal gas actually comes from. It’s not some magical occurrence…it’s science! We can swallow gas when drinking fizzy drinks or we can produce it via chemical reaction as the acidic contents of our stomach get neutralized when they reach the small intestine. There are also trillions of tiny bacteria living in your colon that ferment whatever crosses their path and produces gas in the process. It’s kind of like what happens when you make kombucha…except in your gut.

    In case you’re motivated to go on some gas elimination plan, don’t forget that gas is good! You produce liters of it a day. Intestinal gas means your gut is working: you are eating food and those little bacteria are doing their job. But sometimes, it can be excessive…or not move as quickly as you like. And that's when the bloating happens.

    Can you control how much gas you make? You bet you can. For a couple of days before the big event, you probably don’t want to eat giant plates of cabbage. Certain veggies, in addition to plant compounds called FODMAPS, are known to contribute to extra gas production, but on the daily, you can help to manage gas and bloating by encouraging the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. You’re already on the fiber train…so up the ante by taking a probiotic.

    Fight bac(k)

    Probiotics, like the strains found in Bio-K+, are beneficial bacteria that help to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut, while also helping to step in for their daily functions. Bio-K+ has the ability to help ease symptoms of gas and bloating…while supporting immunity. Because stress also totally kills your immune system.

    Taking Bio-K+ daily will help to regulate digestion and make gas and bloating less troublesome. It’s worth noting that gas and bloating can actually increase for a day or two when you try a new probiotic, so starting taking Bio-K+ well before the big event!

    How does it work? The 50 billion beneficial bacteria found in every fermented bottle of Bio-K+ help to lower the pH of the gut, making it a happier place for good bacteria to hang out, while fighting off the bacteria that can make for troublesome digestion. It helps to directly support the immune system to protect against chronic inflammation, which can be the result of stress, bad bacteria, or even chronic allergies.

    Your big day should be one to remember, for all the right reasons. While you are going through so much effort to ensure your guests have a wonderful night, be sure to devote time to self-care so that you can feel your best and make the most of your very special day.

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    Desiree Nielsen Registered Dietitian
    About the author
    Desiree Nielsen is a registered dietitian, author and host of the vegetarian cooking sshow, The Urban Vegetarian. Desiree takes an evidence-based, integrative approach to her dietetics work, with a focus on anti-inflammatory, plant-centredcentered nutrition and digestive health.
    View all articles by Desiree Nielsen
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