Stress has many negative effects on us, and so it is not surprising that digestive system suffers from these effects as well. Under stress, digestion suffers in several ways: triglycerides and cholesterol are elevated while nutrient absorption is decreased; your gut receives less oxygen and blood, which slows down your metabolism; enzymatic output in your gut decreases drastically. These are not the only negative effects of stress on your digestion, but they illustrate the point well – you don’t want stress as a side dish on your plate!
Chronic stress can also ruin your dieting efforts, by increasing the levels of cortisol in your system. In the long run, this can even contribute to the weight gain around your midsection. If you are trying to lose weight, avoid strict diets that will only end up with you being hungry and upset – it’s doubtful that such diet will do you any good!
So, what can you do about this?
First of all, avoid eating while under strong stress. If you are aware that you’re upset, delay the meal until you calm down. If you cannot eliminate the stressors, try to relax before taking that first bite. You will also want to avoid emotional snacking, since it can become a bad habit that will only serve to help you pile up extra weight.
Another thing you can do is help your body keep its defences up. Sleep has restorative power that benefits your mind and body, while meditation can help you find inner peace and reinforce mental strength. Exercise will trigger the release of endorphins, bringing you the pleasant feeling of relaxation.
Of course, we cannot perfectly control the things that happen to us, but we can try to control our reactions to them. Stress management can help minimise the amount of chronic stress in your everyday life, thus reducing the negative effects it has on your digestive health.