Upset Stomach? How Stress Impacts Your Gut Health
Stress may be what’s causing your upset stomach. Find out how you manage both here.
RELATED: How Food Affects Your Mood In this article:
- Your Gut and Stress
- Why Stress Affects Gut Health
- What Happens to Our Body When We're Stressed?
- So, What's the Solution?
How Getting an Upset Stomach Relates to Stress
Your Gut and Stress
We commonly hear that environmental factors like toxins and chemicals are the biggest disruptors to our gut health, but one of the worst things for the microbiome is stress. You’ve probably heard someone say something like I’m so stressed my stomach hurts. Feeling like your stomach is in knots when you’re stressed goes much deeper than just a little abdominal pain. That’s your gut telling you it’s out of whack. Bottom line is, stress can impact your gut health.
Why Stress Affects Gut Health
How can stressing out over running late to work, not having enough money to pay your bills, or worrying about whether you’re going to get everything done on your to-do list have any effect on your gut health? To understand the answer to how stress affects gut health, we must first understand what stress is. Our ancestors depended on stress responses to get out of life-threatening situations.
When enemies or wild animals came chasing after them to attack, our ancestors needed stress to focus less on the other parts of the body—like the nervous, reproductive, and immune systems—so that they could focus on running away and protecting themselves. Who needs a working gut when you’re running for your life, right? Fast forward to today, and we still have the same response to stressful situations. We subconsciously put the weight of life or death onto every scenario that makes us stressed.
So you’re stressed out about showing up five minutes late and making a bad impression? Your body doesn’t know that you’ll survive even if you show up late. Yet, all your body hears is that it needs to go into survival mode. Unfortunately, today we stress about far more than we should, and we trick our bodies into survival mode far too often. This response may result in indigestion, constipation, vomiting, or even diarrhea.
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What Happens to Our Body When We’re Stressed?
Simply put, when the body is stressed out, digestion can slow to address the life-threatening situation at hand. But more often than not, the things we stress about are not life-threatening. Throughout the day our bodies pump the brakes on digestion and bowel movements to cope with every little thing that stresses us out. The nervous system and immune system can also be affected when your body goes into fight-or-flight mode. That’s because the gut is largely connected to the nervous system—this is why the gut is often coined as “the second brain.” The intestinal lining is filled by the myenteric plexus—the myen-what?
Myenteric Plexus Definition: A network of nerve fibers and neurons that receive signals from the brain. Brain signals travel directly to the gut. When the immune system is running smoothly, it digests food, supports mental clarity, promotes nutrient absorption, balances hormones, and performs other functions. Because of this, we don’t want our immune systems to be affected by stress. Research on mice has shown that exposure to stress reduced helpful microbial diversity in the large intestine.
So, What’s the Solution?
It’s clear stress negatively impacts your gut health, but there is a solution for minimizing stress and restoring your gut flora. Here are some ways to minimize the effects of stress onto your gut:
It’s always better to be prepared. Since you’re bound to face stressful situations that will give you an upset stomach in your everyday life, taking precaution won’t hurt. Take probiotics to strengthen your gut health and avoid other symptoms of digestive problems.
2. Deep BreathingOne of the easiest ways you can better manage stress is to breathe more. Yes, breathing deeply can help discomfort when your stomach is upset. We are usually unaware of how much we hold our breath. We also tend to breathe more through our mouths than our noses. To instantly relax your entire body and relieve stomach discomfort, try this simple breathing exercise.
- Breathe in for two counts and exhale for four.
- After practicing this technique, try exhaling for six counts.
- Do this anytime you feel stress coming—you can consider this technique the quick fix.
To become a less stressed person overall, try meditating twice a day. Start small and work your way up, using apps or guided videos to help you get started. Meditate once in the morning before you’ve checked your phone or had your coffee or breakfast. You can also try yoga to get rid of a stomach ache. There are specific poses to help relieve an upset stomach and promote a healthier microbiome.
4. Rejuvenating TherapyFind a therapy that helps you rejuvenate, whether it’s acupuncture, massage therapy, or something else. You may want an aromatherapy massage to relax your muscles, especially if you feel the long-term effects of stress.
5. Stress Relieving Activities
Aside from physically trying to reduce the effects of stress onto the microbiome with probiotics and relaxation, you can also work on certain activities that relieve stress. Keep a gratitude journal, play with your pet, and plan time in your schedule for doing nothing. Treat this time as if it’s a very important meeting.
Now for optimizing your gut health, we’ve got you covered.
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Learn more about BIOHM Probiotics here and take control of your digestive health for optimal wellness!
Do you get an upset stomach when you’re stressed? How do you cope with abdominal pain? Share your thoughts in the comments section below! Up Next:
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