Experiencing digestive difficulties despite eliminating an abundance of foods, undergoing a cleanse, taking digestive enzymes, or adding a probiotic? Some people may not realize how much stress can actually impact our digestion. Especially for those who have an irritable bowel.
It is firstly important to distinguish stressors. Stress does not only consider mental and emotional stress. Stress can come in the form of physical, environmental (think pollutants and chemicals), emotional, and even dietary stress as food intolerances generate excess inflammation in the body, which puts added stress on our systems. If you are the type of person who has a stressful living environment with our spouse or family members, is always eating on the go, rushing meals at work, or including stress from medications and drugs, you are more likely to experience irritable bowel and digestive issues. Instead of being in the state of "rest and digest" during meal time, your body is in a state of fight or flight. These conditions affect the enteric nervous system, which connects our digestive system to our central nervous system (our spinal cord and brain).
Depending on the severity of this stress, our digestion can actually completely shut down, or produce symptoms of irritable bowel and diarrhea to prepare our body for the perceived battleground at hand.
As a Holistic Nutritionist, and a digestive healing guru, I think it is important to share ideas on how to reduce stress with my clients in order to improve their lives and ultimately their digestion. Some of my favourite ways include:
1) Make sure you set time aside for yourself to eat in a stress-free environment. I know many people, including myself, can be guilty of being so busy that we quickly wolf down a meal or snack on the go. Do not multi-task while eating and thoroughly chew each bite.
2) Practice mindful eating. This includes things like listening to your body and hunger signals when you're full or hungry, consider the quality of your foods and where they're coming from as opposed to "comfort eating", and adopting an eating schedule as opposed to eating at random times and places each day.
3) Include adaptogenic herbs like Ashwagandha and Maca into your diet or supplement routine to boost energy naturally and help your body cope with stress without relying on caffeine. This will help to take the load off the nervous system and aid symptoms of irritable bowel.
For more digestive wellness, check out my Bikini Bod Beat the Bloat Ebook in the Shop section of my werbsite :).