Are you eating all the ‘right’ foods and remain feeling fatigued and generally unhealthy? You could be eating under stress. When we eat under stress or anxiety, whether it is stress from a partner, work, financial or otherwise we set off the physiological stress response.
The physiological stress response, also known as the ‘fight or flight’ mechanism was intended to provide us the energy we needed to escape the predator in the jungle. When this happens, our heart rate and blood pressure increase, and blood is shunted away from our organs to our arms, legs and head.
Digestion shuts down completely because our metabolic energy is needed for survival. Introduce the stressor in the 21st century and this response is activated in us to a varying degree, which decreases the body’s ability to digest and assimilate nutrients.
Cortisol and insulin levels rise which may cause us to gain weight (especially around the mid-section) and wreak havoc with our blood sugar. Other common digestive complaints from stress include heart burn, bloating, a sensation of feeling heavy, low energy, constipation and or loose stools.
Stress is defined as any real or imagined threat. It is our perception in most cases that dictates the level of threat. We all know people who over react to a stressor and others who seem unflappable. To lower your stress try exercising, meditation, yoga or qi gong, even laughter. Acupuncture has been proven in clinical studies to lower stress and minimize the physiological stress response.
In addition to practicing stress reduction techniques, you can support your digestive health by drinking less alcoholic beverages or consuming less sugar- as too much sugar can cause an imbalance in the ratio of good and bad bacteria in the stomach. Increasing your intake of foods that promote digestive health such as those rich in probiotics or foods that aid the body in producing digestive enzymes is also helpful.
The gut is often referred to as “the second brain” of the body. If you are experiencing consistent complications of the digestive system, your body is probably trying to tell you that there may be a bigger problem. Make an appointment with a naturopathic doctor or a gastroenterologist who specializes in the treatment of gastrointestinal, liver, and pancreatic disorders to examine your symptoms.