Stress and Digestion

Holidays aren’t the only stressors these days but may amount to more than you can handle. Recovery may be more than you bargained for…Unfortunately, if the stress is too much for too long, chronic, digestive issues may be the first to express the dissatisfaction.

First, what is stress?

  • A perceived threat that alters the immune system responses.
  • Suppression of the digestive system.
  • Suppression of the reproductive system and growth processes.
  • Release of the cortisol hormone.
  • Increased glucose sugar into the bloodstream and increasing brain glucose.
  • A Surge of adrenaline which increases the heart rate.
  • Hypothalamus hyperactivity in the brain.
  • Elevation of blood pressure.

This is all known as the “fight or flight” syndrome. Enough of this fear response and the bodies chemistry slowly changes, altering the brain response that controls fear, motivation and mood, making you feel like you are constantly under attack.

Additional factors that affect your stress levels are:

  • Genetics of the brain synapsis and dendrites (brain wiring).
  • Life’s experiences – traumatic events, especially childhood trauma.

Since the digestive tract is more than 70% of our immune system, it seems to be the first and hardest hit with stressors These are the health problems that arise from chronic stress response.:

  • Digestive problems, including decreased blood and oxygen flow to the stomach, increased inflammation, an imbalance of gut bacteria and cramping, pain, or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or irritable bowel syndrome (IBD) or Acid Reflux.
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Heart disease
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

More easy-to-use information: Intestinal Health ~ A Practical Guide to Complete Abdominal Comfort

The brain and gut are in constant communication. This direct relationship causes our gastrointestinal system to be sensitive to emotions and reactions such as stress.

The only answer is to fight back against stress and fear-based reactions. Don’t let stress ruin your life! Practicing stress-management techniques such as:

  • Exercising,
  • Avoiding stressors,
  • Socializing,
  • Eat a healthy diet – especially foods rich in good bacteria and enzymes,
  • Read, listen to music or focus on a hobby,
  • Get a massage or take a yoga class,
  • Laugh,
  • Reduce alcohol consumption,
  • Get adequate sleep,
  • Or, just relaxing.

Listen to your gut… if you’re having digestive issues, check your stress levels…

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