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Stress plays a major role in the health of one of our most important organ systems: the gut.
The word stress is a broad term and so often used. It can be acute, chronic or just a constant worried, anxious feeling that won’t go away. Even the mildest of anxiety can impact our digestion.
Unfortunately ladies, digestive disorders such as bloating, stomach pains, constipation and other discomforts affect 35% to 70% of us and studies are now saying that stress could be the trigger .
The sympathetic nervous system, which speeds up our heart rate, is usually activated when we are ‘stressed’. This reaction is also known as ‘fight or flight’ . The body is now using all of its internal energy on this perceived ‘threat’ our digestion starts to slow and can even stop. Thick sticky blood is then pumped to our legs for strength to run and our upper body to fight off danger. Ever wondered why our shoulders ache when we get stressed?
This can also work the other way round. If you suffer from persistent digestive problems it can heighten anxiety and stress and we are then going round in an uncomfortable circle or gas, bloating and constipation. Not nice I know.
Ever found that one day you can eat a certain food and the next it’s causing you great discomfort? Well, it could be because one day you are less stressed and you are able to tolerate certain foods more than the day when you are more stressed.
An example of a client who went to their doctor about IBS symptoms who told her to look at her anxiety levels and prescribed an anti-depressant, much to my clients dismay: “I do not have IBS because of anxiety, I have anxiety because of IBS”.
I know from experience that IBS symptoms add to anxiety because there are worries; where is the nearest toilet, what food will I be able to eat, will I get a flare up in an important meeting, but…. the gut and brain are connected.
And, as I mentioned previously and I what I then mentioned to my client is “Your IBS and anxiety and stress are linked”! 
Get this, serotonin, which is known, as the ‘happy hormone’ is 90% located in the gut! Soooooo our moods are going to be affected by what our guts are doing AND what we eat and digest will ultimately be affecting our moods .
Stress can be increased by these 3 activators:
- Physical – intense exercise and lack of sleep.
- Emotional – argument with a friend or an issue at work.
- Chemical – alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and artificial sugar.
Think of it like an empty cup. Each type of activator, as above, is adding to the cup so eventually it fills and can overflow.
For example, Monday you had a particularly stressful day at work and you had some chocolate, a couple of glasses of wine and the previous night you had not slept well = your cup is now full. So you decide to have a delicious meal that you can normal tolerate but today it has caused your cup to overflow – BOOM – stomach problems.
Another example, Friday, its almost the weekend and you are looking forward to relaxing. You have a sociable evening planned, which means you are happy and not stressed. As a result, you are able to tolerate foods better than usual and even have a glass of wine without the discomfort. The cup is not full.
When did it all start?
Every wondered why you suddenly can’t tolerate certain foods, or why you have stomach upsets more regularly. Could it be linked to something that has happened in your life? Look back, what could have triggered a stress response…a loss in the family, an emotional break up, a stressful job, financial worries.
Heal yourself from the inside, out
For the next two weeks we will be sharing helpful information on foods and lifestyle that are harming and how to heal an array of ailments, naturally. Join the FB page – ‘go with your gut instincts’ or Instagram @larajez.
Lets get you on the right track with your gut and your brain.