When you get nervous or stressed do you get butterflies in your stomach?

Does your mouth becomes dry or if you have a very important decision to make do your bowels get looser ?

Do you get digestion problems?

This shows us how important the link is between our gut and our brain.  The gut –brain connection is controlled by the enteric nervous system.  This nervous system sends out hundreds of thousand signals that communicate to our central nervous system.

So when you are nervous, anxious or even scared of something this slows down your enzyme secretions and how the food moves through your body. This can lead you to have a bit of heartburn or reflux, slightly constipated or things just slow down and don’t move through your system as fast as they normally would.  Once this starts happening you have a level of toxicity building in your body which needs to be dealt with so you can start feeling better.

When you have chronic stress or extreme stress your digestion can completely shut down.  Our digestive system repairs itself every few days but when we are under chronic levels of stress this process fails to take place.  There is new research showing us the gut bugs we have can be damaged by this chronic stress because of the changes to the neurotransmitters and this can lead to inflammation throughout the gastrointestinal tract.

This can lead to conditions like Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)  or inflammatory bowel disease, reflux, ulcers, constipation and diarrhoea.  Stress can also play a role in auto immune conditions. The nervous system can begin to overreact to common foods you eat and also environmental toxins which we would normally be able to deal with.

What can you do?

Reduce your stressors – This one is tricky!  Don’t stay in a job or relationship where you are under constant stress, change what you can and if you can’t maybe it’s time to move on.

Diet – have a balanced diet of the foods that work for your digestive system.  Avoid overindulging on sugar, alcohol and caffeine. If you have constant pain or take over the counter medications these can all lead to more distress for your gut.

Seek help – Seeking out a good friend, a counsellor or psychologist could be just what you need to get the stress into perspective and fix the underlying issue rather than just the symptoms.

Exercise – Exercise can be a double edged sword, too much can cause the body more stress.  Aim for moderate amounts of exercise frequently.  You don’t have to hammer yourself into the ground when you are exercising.

Relaxation – Try to incorporate things that you really enjoy; Gardening, meditation, yoga, painting and other things that truly make you relax and that are restful. This will ensure your nervous system gets the message that everything is okay.

There are also many herbs and nutrients that can help the body to adapt and recover from stress.  If you would like more information on these.  Let me know send me an email

Drawing Credit: Leah Blount Art

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