Your mind and body are intimately intertwined and each impacts the other. Images and thoughts can start to create a physical response in your body. One of the most sensitive body systems is our digestion. When you are stressed it powerfully affects your digestive system. This connection is extremely important when it comes to weight loss.
So here’s a simplified picture of how stress affects your digestion:
Almost immediately your salivary glands aren’t as activated, so your digestive juices don’t flow as freely and frequently as when you are relaxed.
Your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) kicks in and tells your body to get ready for action. The sympathetic nervous system overrides the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) and shuts down unnecessary functions like digestion. They’re unnecessary if you are preparing to fight, fly or freeze! It also releases stress hormones that cause you to store fat, particularly in the midsection.
Because your digestion is compromised before you even take your first bite of food, you are at increased risk for leaky gut and heartburn. You are unable to produce adequate stomach acid, which not only hinders proper digestion of your food but is also protective against pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Much of your immune system resides in your gut, after all. It changes the composition of the good bacteria in your gut which impacts your overall health as well as your ability to successfully lose weight. Stress also affects peristalsis, the rhythmic contractions in your intestines that move food along, extract nutrition and eliminate wastes.
While it is partially true that you are what you eat, it is even more true that you are what you eat and digest. So ensuring effective digestion is very important. In my Today is Still the Day plan, I recommend practicing a particular type of deep breathing before each meal to help you get into a more relaxed, less stressed state. You can eat the best, cleanest, highest quality food and if your digestion is compromised, you’re not getting the full benefit you could be.
Do you consciously take time to ensure you are calm and relaxed before eating?
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Amen Ms. Ann! It absolutely affects us. Stress has caused far too many health challenges in my life, to include great intestinal/digestive issues in the past. Learning to “let go and let God”, along with disciplining myself not to eat all the junk food in sight when I’m under a lot of stress, have both helped curb the negative impacts. Even as a semi-retired guy, there are stressors in life that impact us. Wonderful reminders, tips, and counsel ma’am. God’s blessings.
Thank you J.D. I have experienced some challenges due to stress – I think if we are honest, we all have. It’s definitely something worth being aware of as it affects our overall health. I appreciate you!
I’ve never actually considered this but will moving forward. I try to stay calm and mindful but I know that I’m not always in a calm state when I eat. Thanks for bringing this to my awareness.
Especially now, Holly, with all that’s going on in our world, hope it is helpful.
It’s interesting times indeed. Hope you all say healthy through all of this!
Praying you and Jer do too.
This is so true. With everyday passing by we keep forgetting how stress kills our digestion. I’m glad I came through your blog where I can remind myself and others about it.
Thank you for reading and for your kind comment.
The digestive tract is such a delicate thing. I have always had a nervous stomach and all of my stess goes right there without fail. Stress also has a nasty habit of causing IBS over time!
Many people find that they experience the results of stress and anxiety in their digestion. There are definitely ways to help yourself handle stress better and improve your digestion. I hope you look into those options.
I didn’t know much technicality behind the role of stress in causing indigestion but i have noticed it quite sometimes. Being anxious can really cause everything bad in your body!
So very true.