As seen on WebFMD.
I’m happy to share an article I recently contributed to webFMD (think a WebMD for functional medicine) on how stress affects our digestion and gut bacteria, and what we can do about it.
So, how does stress affect our digestion?
We now have enough data to know that stress is intimately connected to our entire physiology. We are beginning to understand how it affects all the different systems in the body, including our digestion.
When we are stressed, our body is getting ready for fight-or-flight, not to digest food; blood flow is diverted away from the gut into the muscles, the stomach’s pH level changes, and, with chronic stress, the gut microbiome is altered. Yes, the composition of our gut bacteria changes as a result of stress!
I often see individuals who are going through transitions, or are undergoing particularly stressful periods in their lives, who travel frequently for work or do shift work. They often report gastrointestinal problems such as irregular bowel movements, bloating and stomach discomfort. When on vacation or after their stressful situation has resolved, however, these individuals’ symptoms can dramatically improve.
When we eat while we are stressed, our digestive system is not optimally digesting the food we eat. Our gut motility changes, and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients from food is impaired. During periods of stress, you also may notice digestive issues, even if you eat a healthy diet.
Go to my article to learn about the gut-brain axis, the role our gut bacteria play in our health and what you can do to restore the calmness needed while eating and optimize your digestion!
To your health,