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The Impact of Stress on Digestion






You might be wondering….what does stress have to do with digestion?  


Everything!  


When the stress response is activated, digestion takes the back burner.  

Stress can absolutely wreak havoc on our digestive system.


Here's a closer look at how stress affects digestion:


  • The Stress Response: When you experience stress—whether it's from cranky kids, a challenging relationship, or a hectic schedule—your body kicks into high gear to prepare for the perceived threat. This triggers the release of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which can have a huge impact on your digestive system.

  • Fight or Flight vs. Rest and Digest: You've probably heard of the "fight or flight" response, our body's instinctive reaction to stress. In times of danger, blood is redirected away from non-essential functions like digestion and towards vital organs and muscles to prepare for action. As a result, digestion slows down, and the absorption of nutrients is compromised.  This is problematic because every cell in our bodies is made from what we eat.

  • Inflammation and Gut Health: Chronic stress has been linked to increased inflammation in the body, including the gastrointestinal tract. Inflammation can damage the delicate lining of the gut, disrupt the balance of beneficial bacteria, and contribute to digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

  • Stress Eating: Have you ever found yourself reaching for comfort foods during times of stress? You're not alone. Stress can trigger cravings for high-fat, high-sugar foods, which may provide temporary relief but can ultimately worsen digestive issues and impact overall health.

So, what can you do to support your digestive health in the face of stress? Here are a few tips:


  • Practice Stress Management Techniques: Incorporate stress-relieving activities into your daily routine like prayer, time in nature, walks or deep breathing exercises.

  • Mindful Eating: Slow down and savor your meals, paying attention to hunger and fullness cues. Eating mindfully can help reduce stress and improve digestion.

  • Support Gut Health: Incorporate gut-friendly foods like fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, fermented foods, and probiotics into your diet to promote a healthy balance of gut bacteria.

  • Reach out!  I’m here to help.  I work with clients daily helping them troubleshoot digestive issues and stress management techniques.

Remember, managing stress is not just beneficial for your mental and emotional well-being—it's essential for supporting optimal digestion and overall health.


Here's to a happier, healthier gut!


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