Do You Know Stress Affects Digestion? Find Out How Stress and Digestion Are Linked

Stress not only affects your emotional health but also impairs your digestive system. Understand the link between stress and digestion.

Chanchal Sengar
Written by: Chanchal SengarPublished at: May 04, 2021Updated at: May 04, 2021
Do You Know Stress Affects Digestion? Find Out How Stress and Digestion Are Linked

Are you often stressed owing to the problems on the personal or professional front? Are you often, worried and frustrated owing to the poor financial condition? Being stressed can also lead to excessive consumption of alcohol or get habituated to smoking and that can also be problematic for the gut. Then, the stress arising out of these things or any other problem can not only be harmful to your mental well-being but also your gastrointestinal health. According to Dr. Roy Patankar, leading Gastroenterologist & Director of Zen Multi Speciality Hospital, Chembur, stress gives a tough time to all the systems of one’s body. Stress has a negative impact on your musculoskeletal, respiratory, cardiovascular, endocrine, nervous, reproductive systems, and even gastrointestinal health. Stress can lead to a range of gastrointestinal problems like cramping, bloating, inflammation, and poor appetite. It is the need of the hour to improve digestion by staying stress-free.

The link between the brain and digestive system

If you are stressed, then your brain will send signals for chemicals like adrenaline, serotonin (a hormone impacting the mood and is found in one’s digestive system) as well as the stress hormone (cortisol) to be released. These hormones can cause lead to adverse reactions. You will be shocked to know that stress can have a negative impact on the digestive system in various ways. It can lead to decreased blood and oxygen flow to one’s stomach.

link between the brain and digestive system

Digestive problems due to stress

Moreover, stress affects brain-gut communication and leads to cramping, imbalance of the gut bacteria, and even inflammation of the gut. Stress tends to increase gut motility and fluid secretion causing problems like cramping, diarrhoea, indigestion, upset stomach, bloating, and loss of appetite. To one’s dismay, these symptoms can also lead to gastrointestinal (GI) disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), irritable bowel disease (IBD), peptic ulcers, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Stress is also linked to the changes in the gut bacteria that can influence one’s mood. It is essential to enhance the digestion process that is affected due to stress and stay fit and fine throughout life.

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Digestive problems due to stress

How To Boost Digestion?

Follow these tips to ease your digestion process by Dr. Patankar:

Stick to a diet rich in fiber: Having a diet consisting of fiber that is vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes will help you improve your digestive health. It will also allow you to beat constipation and regulate your bowel movements. Having a diet loaded with fiber can also keep other issues like diverticulosis and hemorrhoids at bay.

Follow a proper meal plan: Try to stick to healthy eating habits. Exclude junk, spicy, oily, processed foods and aerated drinks from the diet. Follow a proper schedule every day. Your breakfast, lunch, and dinner time should be the same. Do not overeat or opt for binge or emotional eating. Remember, portion control is key. Consume fermented foods for better digestion.

Stay hydrated: If you are not drinking enough water then you are doing it all wrong. Fueling yourself with water will improve your digestion process and make sure that your stools are bulkier and allow them to pass easily.

Cut down on smoking and alcohol: These things along with caffeine will interfere with your digestive system by inviting problems like heartburn and stomach ulcers.

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Stay physically active: If you exercise on a daily basis then it will be a bonus point for you as the food will keep moving via your digestive system and you will be able to manage constipation. It will also allow you to maintain an optimum weight. So, go swimming, cycling, aerobics, yoga, gymming, running, walking, or jogging.

Manage stress: Try to stay calm and composed by meditating every day. You can also do activities that you like to rejuvenate. Opt for painting, drawing, puzzle-solving, listen to music, or cook. Spend some quality time with your loved ones.

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