How Are Stress And Digestion Related?


How Are Stress And Digestion Related?

Butterflies in the stomach, queasiness, inability to eat, or overeating are common side effects of stress. Craving unhealthy sweets and comfort foods is common.

Stress may result in diarrhea, constipation or vomiting. Stress contributes to acid reflux disease, irritable bowels, and heartburn. GERD is made worse in the presence of stress. Excess unhealthy stress is deleterious to your digestion and the rest of your body. Stress also weakens your immune system, much of which resides in the digestive tract.

The Stress Response

Volumes could be written about the hazards of stress as it relates to the body and society as a whole. Unlike cave men, we do not face the threat of saber toothed tigers. Instead, we are faced with stress due to too many commitments, unhealthy diets, and relationship pressures. As a result, we live in a time when stress is great.

When the body is stressed, a multitude of biochemical reactions occur. Blood flow is diverted away from the digestive tract to the vital organs, so that the person can “fight” or “take flight” away from the threat. Without proper blood flow, food is not digested. Acidity in the stomach increases. The valve between the esophagus and stomach becomes impaired. As a result, stomach acid regurgitates into the esophagus. The esophageal tissues erode, causing pain, and if stress continues, bleeding.

The tissues of the digestive tract lose their proper tone. Damage occurs easily. The stomach churns excessively. An oversupply of stomach acid and a lack of circulation to the small intestine results in food sitting too long in the digestive tract or not long enough.

Adequate amounts of healthy foods may not be eaten. Even if they are, the nutrients may not be absorbed or vomiting may occur. On the other hand, a person may choose to eat foods which weaken the body. Fast foods laden with salt and grease are often preceptors of distress.

Nutrient absorption is diminished. Illnesses throughout the entire body may occur secondary to poor nutrient availability. The immune system is among the first systems impacted. Reduced immunity results in a weakening of the entire body. A vicious loop of chronic illness, including auto immune disease, may develop secondary to stress and its initial impacts on the digestive tract.

Stress and the Bowels

An embarrassing side effect of stress for many people is diarrhea. Others suffer from constipation. Chronic diarrhea may result in the breakdown of the intestinal mucosa.

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