How Digestion Is Affected By Stress?
Just remember the moment when you are called on stage to address the audience. Unless you are a seasoned speaker, you will have butterflies in the stomach 😛 If you have experienced such a feeling, you will agree if I say that stress can affect your stomach. The impact of stress is more serious than having butterflies in your stomach. Stress can affect every part of one’s digestive system. It can cause a lot of digestive problems like indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea and heartburn.
The brain and digestive system link
Studies have been conducted and they have found a complex link between the digestive system and the brain. The link is quite sensitive to mood. Do you know that the stomach and intestines have more number of nerve cells than those present in the entire spinal cord and there are a number of nerves running from the brain to the digestive system? 95% of the serotonin present in the body is found in the digestive system and not in the brain. Serotonin is a hormone that regulates mood.
The process of digestion is controlled by the enteric nervous system that comprises of millions of nerves that happen to communicate with the central nervous system. When you are under stress, the body’s entire focus is on staying alive and this way it neglects digestion. The body shuts down the flow of blood to the digestive system, contractions of the digestive organs get affected and there is a decrease in the secretion of digestive enzymes.
The brain releases a number of hormones that wreak havoc on the digestive system. For instance, a hormone called corticotropin is released that suppresses appetite, this clears why some people can’t eat food when they are stressed out. The main function of the hormone is to instruct the adrenal gland to produce adrenaline and steroids that provide the strength to fight or flee from the stressors. In some people these steroids can make certain people feel extremely hungry, making them eat chips, chocolate and other junk food when they have stress.
How Digestion Is Affected By Stress?
- Stress can cause the food pipe (esophagus) to go into spasms.
- It can increase the acid production in your stomach that will lead to heart burn and acidity.
- It can make you feel nauseous by shutting down the digestive activities of the stomach.
- The colon can get affected resulting in constipation or diarrhea.
- It can cause inflammation in your digestive system making is prone to infections.
- Long term stress can lead to irritable bowel syndrome.
- Researchers feel that stress can lead to ulcers by affecting acidic balance in the stomach and other digestive secretions.
Now you would wonder whether there is way to prevent stress from affecting your digestion. Let me tell you that there is, read on,
Exercise is the best way out to manage stress and also improve digestion.
Yoga and meditation
Yoga and meditation help an individual feel relaxed. The stress gets relieved with regular yoga and meditation. Once stress is relieved it won’t affect the digestion.
Stress can result in two things. You will either stop eating or start binge eating on junk food. Both the things can disrupt your digestion further. Even when you are stressed out, try eating healthy and balanced meals.
Say good bye to alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and sugar. They increase your stress levels.
Stress is there in everybody’s life. You need to work towards eliminating it.
Hope you found this post useful!
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