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Stress and the impact on your digestion!

So we all know that stress can affect the way we digest our foods leading to gut -related symptoms, but exactly what are the mechanisms at play here?

Well much of what happens when we are stressed is linked to the hormones at play. One of the key hormones involved is called corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH). This hormone controls the stress response between the gut and the brain and is responsible for initiating a variety of processes that cause our miserable digestive symptoms.

CRH itself can increase the speed at which food moves through the gut leading to diarrhoea, but other hormones such as cortisol increase absorption of water and sodium from the colon contributing to constipation.

CRH also promotes low grade inflammation in the gut and reduces the production of mucous which can make our gut more sensitive – a phenomenon called ‘visceral hypersensitivity’. CRH can also make our guts more permeable leading to the development of food sensitivities

Finally stress has been shown to change the balance of our gut bacteria which is so important for healthy digestion.

So all of this isn’t necessarily a problem for those occasional stressful situations, but often we are struggling with daily stressors – too much work, competing priorities, underlying infections that we are unaware of, nutrient deficiencies, inadequate sleep and relaxation can all take their toll and may be contributing to your digestive symptoms.

So what can we do? Well the key thing is to do less. Make more time to relax and recharge, take – up yoga, meditation and breathing exercises (which help to calm and rebalance us), take time to chew well, reduce time on social media and have a good bed-time routine to increase the chances of a good restful night’s sleep

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