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  • Writer's pictureMaria Tinoco

Stress and Digestion - Things You Should Know and what to do about it

What you eat is as crucial as how and when you eat.


In our hectic day by day, we take our digestion and absorption of nutrients for granted. We typically assume that if we are eating a healthy diet, our digestion process should be straightforward because what else could be happening. The issue, though, is that even people that eat healthy food may have GI distress.


Why is that?
Because is the autonomic nervous system that governs digestion, and your state of mind matters. The autonomic nervous system is composed of the sympathetic or fight or flight nervous system, the parasympathetic or rest and digest nervous system, and the enteric nervous system.

The enteric nervous system is in communication with both fight or flight and rest-and-digest nervous systems. When we are not stressed, the enteric nervous system control peristalsis and the secretion of gastrointestinal enzymes.


The rest-and-digest nervous system works together with the enteric nervous system supporting the increase of peristalsis, blood flow, absorption, and secretion.


The sympathetic or fight or flight response, act in times of stress decreasing peristalsis, blood flow, absorption, and secretion. If required, even during digestion, the sympathetic nervous system can divert blood flow away from the gastrointestinal tract, assuming no need for digestive activity. The priority is to send blood flow to the limbs for you to run and save your life.


In short, you need to know that when you're stressed:


  • The digestion system is impaired. The stomach cannot produce the required acid (HCl) to breakdown protein and unlock minerals, negatively affecting the nutrients absorbed.

  • If you are stress, you are most probably not paying attention to proper chewing, thus aggravating the situation.

  • The sympathetic or fight or flight response, act in times of stress decreasing peristalsis, blood flow, absorption, and secretion. If required, even during digestion, the sympathetic nervous system can divert blood flow away from the gastrointestinal tract, assuming no need for digestive activity. The priority is to send blood flow to the limbs for you to run and save your life.

  • This whole process opens the door to opportunistic bacteria to decompose and ferment incomplete digested food leading to typical complaints such as fullness, gas and bloating.


The good news!! You can effortlessly improve this situation.


Before any meal, stimulate the rest-and-digest nervous system.

How?


  • Taking some deep and slow breaths

  • Chewing well to help predigest food and promote gastric secretion

  • Being aware and in a state of gratitude to help reduce stress hormones and support the digestive process.


Bon appetite!!

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