We all know the feeling of being so stressed out that our stomach starts to feel upset. But did you know that stress can actually have a bigger impact on your digestion than you might think? From slowing down your digestive process to causing changes in the gut bacteria, stress can seriously mess with your digestive system.
Here are 7 ways stress is affecting your digestion:
- “Fight or Flight” or “Freeze” or “Fawn”: When you are stressed your brain perceives a threat and your body jumps into action to protect itself by redirecting blood flow away from digestive system to your muscles. This can slow down digestion and cause digestive systems like bloating and constipation.
- Changes in the gut bacteria: Stress can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria, leading to digestive issues like diarrhea, constipation, and stomach pain.
- Intestinal Permeability: Often referred to as Leaky Gut Syndrome; stress can cause changes to the gut lining so that undigested food particles and toxins escape into the bloodstream and cause digestive problems.
- Eating Habits: Stress can cause overeating, skipping meals, binge eating, or emotional eating.
- Stomach Acid: Stress can increase the production of stomach acid, leading to symptoms like acid reflux and heartburn.
- Muscle Tension: When you are stressed your muscles tense up, including muscles in your digestive system. This can cause symptoms like cramping, bloating, and constipation.
- Nervous System: Stress can also affect the nervous system that controls your digestive muscles, leading to digestive symptoms like nausea and vomiting.
So what you can do about it? Here are some tips for improving your stress management:
- Deep breathing, yoga, or mediation. Click here for a link to my favorite Dr. Andrew Weil breathing technique.
- Exercise regularly
- Eat a balanced diet filled with fiber, pro and prebiotic foods
- Avoid processed foods, sugar, and artificial sweeteners
- Get enough sleep
- Consider talking to a therapist
Stress is inevitable, but with a few simple changes you can help protect your digestive system from negative effects.
Take control of your health and start reducing stress today!
And as always…Live Life Encouraged!