Think about the language you sometime use... and you'll see the connection between stress and digestive health. For example, have you ever had to make a "gut-wrenching" decision? Perhaps you've "choked" under pressure at some time in your life?
The relationship between your emotional and digestive functioning is important to understand.
Digestion is controlled by hundreds of millions of nerves that communicate within the central nervous system. When you're stressed out, the "fight or flight" response is activated and a cascade of biochemical reactions takes place.
For example, your central nervous system shuts down blood flow, which can affect the contractions of your digestive muscles, and decrease the secretion of enzymes needed for digestion. Stress can also cause your gastrointestinal system to get inflamed and make you susceptible to infection.
"Stress can affect every part of the digestive system," says Kenneth Koch, MD, medical director of the Digestive Health Center at Wake Forrest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, N.C.
Koch goes on to explain that "Stress can cause your esophagus to go into spasms. It can increase the acid in your stomach causing indigestion. Stress can cause your colon to react in a way that gives you diarrhea or constipation."(1)
Reducing stress can go a long way towards improving your digestive health. In addition to moderate exercise, other stress reducers include relaxation therapies like yoga and meditation, and seeking the help of a mental health professional when needed.
One study found that people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) found significant relief from pain, bloating and diarrhea from a therapy called Relaxation Response, developed at the Harvard Medical School.(2)
In another recent study, 70% of people with IBS saw improvement in their symptoms after 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy.(3)
Probiotics Reduces Stress-Induced Intestinal Problems In a third study, researchers at the University of Michigan found that while stress does not cause IBS, it does induce intestinal inflammation that can lead to chronic belly pain, loss of appetite and diarrhea.
According to findings published in Gastroenterology, stress suppresses an important component called an "inflammasome" which is needed to maintain normal gut microbiota. However, probiotics reversed the effect in animal models.
Probiotics are live bacteria cultures that help grow the "good" bacteria that live in your gut and keep pathogens in check, aid digestion and promote healthy immune function. University of Michigan researchers were able to identify the way stress significantly altered the composition of gut bacteria.
According to senior study author John Y. Kao, M.D., "The effect of stress could be protected with probiotics which reversed the inhibition of the inflammasome. This study reveals an important mechanism for explaining why treating IBS patients with probiotics makes sense."
At the end of the day, a certain amount of stress in life is unavoidable. If you are having symptoms of stress that are interfering with digestion, talk to your doctor. You may have a digestive problem that needs treatment.
In addition, take a probiotic supplement like Prosentials every day. According to The World Health Organization, consuming probiotics on a daily basis helps strengthen the body’s natural defenses by providing friendly bacteria for the intestinal tract.(5)
What makes Prosentials unique is that it contains 6 potent probiotic strains to replenish your good bacteria, plus the fungal-fighting S. boulardii probiotic yeast. It works to neutralize and kill the toxins that can cause all sorts of digestive issues. Take it every day for optimal digestive health.