• Shruti GOCHHWAL

Does Stress Affect Digestion?

Do you know that no other part of your body is as closely connected with your brain as your stress affect digestion system? The direct relationship between brain and gut means that your emotional or mental health will directly affect your gastrointestinal system. Nobody gives much thought to stress induced disorders because they’re not aware that brains are intricately connected to their gut health.

Whenever you feel anxious or tensed, its immediate impact is felt in your stomach in the form of gut discomfort, cramps, and diarrhea. When your stressed or suffering from mood swings, the bacteria in your gut alter, and you face gastrointestinal problems. Thus managing stress is essential to achieving great digestive health. But to know how to do that, you first need to understand how stress affects different parts of your digestive system.

How Stress Affects Different Organs of Your Digestive System

Stress causes changes in your nervous system, which changes the way your body responds to stress. Stress affects the following organs of your digestive system.

  1. Esophagus

  2. Stomach

  3. Bowel

Esophagus

stress, digestion

Human esophagus, Credits: Pixabay


When your stressed, you tend to comfort eat, i.e., eat much more or less than usual. You also rely on alcohol and tobacco to deal with increased cortisol levels. It directly leads to heartburn or acid reflux. High-stress levels can also sometimes cause spasms in your esophagus. They feel exactly like a heart attack. It also makes it difficult for you to swallow food items. Difficulty in swallowing leads to gassiness and burping.

Stomach

man, stress, nausea

Person feeling unwell, Credits: Pixabay


The stomach is a common site for stress affect digestion, disorders. Your appetite may increase or decrease according to your stress levels. It can also make you feel the effects of bloating, nausea, and stomach pain more seriously.

Bowel

Stomach, constipation

A person feeling stomach pain, Credits: Pixabay


Stress affect digestion the speed at which food moves in the body. Stress constricts the flow of blood and oxygen to the stomach area. It can help develop several types of stress related disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastro esophageal reflux, and constipation.

Stress can also hinder the absorption of nutrients in the intestine. It enables the gut bacteria to attack the body by weakening the protective barrier that is present in the intestine. Those with existing disorders like irritable or inflammatory bowel diseases may feel the effects of high-stress levels more acutely.

How to Manage Stress from Affecting Your Digestive System

Don’t get worried about the distressing ways by which stress impacts your digestive health. You can easily prevent various diseases caused by stress by the following stress management techniques.

  1. Consume low sugar foods

  2. Exercise regularly

  3. Practice meditation

  4. Develop self-care habits

1.  Consume Low Sugar Foods

fruits, vegetables

Healthy fruits and vegetables, Credits: Pixabay


If you’re stressed, you will naturally reach out to high fat and high sugar foods. The key to maintaining good gut health is to consume fewer foods, which are high in sugar and fat. The intake of fresh fruits and vegetables will promote your digestive system health and will, in turn, boost your mood. Eat plenty of citrus fruits and foods rich in omega-three fatty acids like peanut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, etc.

2. Exercise Regularly

woman, health, exercise

A woman running, Credits: Pixabay


A good workout releases hormones called endorphins that is the feel-good hormones. They help in lowering your stress levels and help you sleep and relax. Thus, engaging in regular physical activities will help you quickly manage stress and consequently improve your digestion. Those suffering from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder can benefit a lot by making regular exercise a part of their lifestyle.

3. Practice Meditation

woman, meditation

A woman meditating, Credits: Pixabay


Meditation is perhaps the best way to feel calm and peaceful. Devote some time to meditate by closing your eyes and focussing on your breath. Practicing meditation for just ten minutes every day will give you a clarity of thought and lower your stress.

4. Develop Self Care Habits

girl, nature, self-care

Girl walking in the midst of nature, Credits: Pixabay


Make it a habit to plan and manage your time. Set some time aside to focus on yourself entirely. Go out for a long walk and take deep breaths. Spend some time amid nature to gain more peace of mind. It will instantly alleviate all the mental pain caused due to stress.

Stress is not bad. It is essential to make you feel alive. But consistently experiencing it can cause more harm than benefit. It impacts every part of your physical body, the digestive system being the foremost. Take advantage of the above techniques and live life in a stress-free manner.

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