How Stress Affects Our Stomach Health




I’ve been doing a lot of research on the subject of stress-related illness. I‘ve tried everything to get my stomach normal over the last 15 years, and guess what I finally figured out. My issues were caused by stress! Although I know my stress level is regularly through the roof, I also know that it’s a hell of my own making. I take too much on, I try to go with the flow to avoid conflict, etc.  It’s exactly why I wrote the blog post “Stand Up For YOU”, so that many of you can start taking similar steps to alleviate stress.

It’s pretty well known that stress and physical health are linked. When you are stressed, you feel more sluggish, down, and tired. Last summer, as I talked about in a previous blog, was an extremely stressful season and my stomach was going crazy. Even my esophagus was stressed; I could hardly swallow! I was in and out of doctors and hospitals, and it all came down to stress. 

I started reading articles online about the gut-brain axis to better understand my condition. Your gut microbiome is, simply put, the collection of bacteria living in your GI tract. Studies show the crosstalk between the gut microbiome and the brain goes both ways, and when the brain is under increased stress, the gut responds with distress. Over time, stress can cause levels of gut bacteria to become imbalanced, which leads to changes in neurotransmitter function, and perpetuates increased stress and anxiety in the brain.

Stress can also cause inflammation and even change the way your stomach churns food and digests various nutrients. Also, have you noticed that when you’re stressed your stomach tends to tighten up? That can also lead to common things like constipation, diarrhea, and plain old stomach cramps. Increased stress levels can also alter the levels of acid in our stomach, which can cause or worsen heartburn (acid reflux) and impair our ability to digest food properly. That was definitely my problem. I was buying Nexium by the case!

So, what do you do if you feel a stress related stomachache coming on? Here are some things that I do that help. While it doesn’t solve the stress factor, these methods definitely help me control my stomach symptoms.

When I feel a stress stomachache coming on, first I try to remove myself from the stress by playing soothing music and drinking water with ingestible Lavender Essential Oil which promotes calmness and helps treat anxiety. I also have incorporated eating yogurt (which is high in nutrients and aids in digestive health) as well as probiotics into my daily routine. Sometimes I’ll even take all-natural mood elevators like 5Htp and HUM Nutrition’s Moody Bird PMS Supplement.

Stress is a part of life, but it’s what we do with it and how we manage it that really counts. I always try to remind myself that everything will work the way it should soon enough. You should too! Hope these methods bring you some relief, and remember, managing stress is a life-long battle for your health. Your body will thank you!