How stress can affect your digestion

Life can be stressful at times – that’s when watching what you eat and making time for exercise is really important and I promise you will reap the benefits. Have you ever noticed how stress can affect your digestion?

Stress can negatively impact our digestion as well as our mindset. Digestion is controlled by the enteric nervous system, a system composed of hundreds of millions of nerves that communicate with the central nervous system. When stress activates the “flight or fight” response in your central nervous system, digestion can shut down because your central nervous system shuts down blood flow, affects the contractions of your digestive muscles, and decreases secretions needed for digestion. Stress can cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal system, and make you more susceptible to infection.

  • Diet and dining. Eating foods that are bad for your digestion can be a cause of stress. Don’t deal with stress by overeating or binging on junk food. “Your digestive system appreciates a healthy, well-balanced diet. Avoid extremes of sugar, fat, and alcohol,” advises Kenneth Koch, MD, professor of medicine, section on gastroenterology and medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Wake Forrest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C. “Consider dining, not refuelling, when it comes to eating. A relaxed, unhurried, candle-light atmosphere is good for digestion.”
  • Limit stressors. Resist easing stress by smoking or using alcohol. Relying on drugs to deal with stress can also be tough on digestion. “People who are constantly popping over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for stress headaches can be damaging their digestive tract,” warns Koch . Avoid too much coffee and soft drinks that give you a jolt of caffeine and sugar.

I hope these tips are helpful either now or in the future.

I hope you have a great week.
Lucy x

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