Stressed Woman Holding Her Head

How Your Body’s Stress Response Affects Your Gut Health

Getting stuck in traffic, trying to meet a deadline, dealing with last-minute changes – plenty of things make you feel tense. This manifests emotionally (becoming easily agitated and frustrated or having difficulty relaxing and socializing) or physically (aching muscles, shaking, grinding the teeth, and excessive sweating).

These are common indicators of stress, which is your body’s way of responding to a big change. This adjustment can be positive, like taking a vacation or getting married, or negative, such as hearing bad news or handling too many tasks. To help you deal with these stressors better, your brain sends signals that keep you alert, motivated, and prepared for anything. This increases your chances of overcoming whatever obstacle is in your way.

This response is crucial to have and experience. However, there are instances when it becomes too much, making it hard for you to function properly. In many cases, stress even leads to health problems, with gut-related issues being one of the most widely reported.

The Brain and the Gut

Your brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS), which is responsible for receiving sensory information and controlling your body’s responses. It also has partial control over the gastrointestinal tract, as it’s lined with a special network of neurons called the enteric nervous system, which is in charge of regulating digestive processes. These include swallowing, propelling and breaking down food as it travels through the intestines, and separating nutrients from waste.

What Happens to the Body When It’s Stressed

When you’re in a stressful or potentially threatening situation, your brain releases a hormone called cortisol. This triggers a fight-or-flight response and makes the body more alert and ready to take action. This comes with several physiological changes, like faster heart and breathing rates, elevated blood pressure, an enhanced state of awareness, and increased muscle tension.

Since you’ll be more focused on getting past the threat and not digesting what you just ate, you’ll get a funny or strange feeling in your belly. The esophagus contracts and the acid level in the stomach increases. You might also experience nausea, constipation, or diarrhea. In severe instances, it even causes cramps, inflammation, or an imbalance in gut bacteria. To bring these back in order, you can consult with experts on holistic medicine.

Digestive Health Issues That Arise

If you’re often stressed and frequently experience the aforementioned symptoms, you may develop or exacerbate these existing digestive conditions:

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): Also known as spastic colon or mucous colitis, IBS is characterized by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea. Its intensity and duration may vary, ranging from minor to significant and lasting from days to months.

Peptic Ulcer Disease: This refers to sores that are found in the stomach lining, esophagus, or small intestine. They’re caused by acids that erode the surface or bacteria that trigger inflammation.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease: GERD is a condition where one experiences acid reflux more than once a week. This refers to an uncomfortable burning sensation in the chest and throat, which sometimes leaves a sour taste at the back of the mouth.

Lady Doing Yoga

Stress Management Techniques for a Healthy Gut

It’s crucial to reduce the effects of stress on the body. You may try doing yoga and other forms of physical exercise to relieve tight muscles and stimulate the release of endorphins. This happy hormone is said to alleviate feelings of pain and tension as well as improve sleep – two things essential in maintaining good digestion.

Another method is light-emitting diode (LED) therapy. It uses LED bulbs that emit short wavelengths, penetrating many tissues. This gets the blood flowing throughout the body, removing waste from and delivering fresh oxygen and nutrients to different organs. As a result, tension is reduced, and the gut and its fluids become balanced.

Get in touch with Midwest Allergy Relief Centers to find the best holistic medicine practitioner in Boulder, CO. They’ll help you feel better using techniques that don’t involve needles or chemicals, just alternative treatments that are noninvasive yet effective.