How Stress Can Impact Digestion?

Whenever stress is imposed in humans, two systems take the charge to maintain the homeostasis (state of maintaining the equilibrium within the body); HPA axis and Sympathetic nervous system.

Sympathetic nervous system can be called as Yang which means excitatory or stimulatory while Parasympathetic system can be called as Yin which means calming or inhibitory. The Yang prepares the body for action or to deal with any emergency like increasing the heart rate in order to increase blood flow to extremities, constriction of blood vessels supplying to non essentials organs like skin, dilation of blood vessels to essential organs like heart, skeletal muscles and liver, reflexes increases, pupil dilates, increased respiration and most importantly slows down or almost stop the processes which are not important during stressful events like inhibiting muscular contractions of GI tract and release of digestive enzymes. This is the reason why people who are always into some kind of stress or hurry their brain perceive it as a state of emergency and leading to some kind of digestive issues at first hand like acid reflux, gas, bloating, constipation & indigestion along with other symptoms like sleep deprivation, unable to calm down, gradual memory loss and high risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

These symptoms if persist for longer time lead to dysbiosis (imbalance between healthy and unhealthy flora) due to undigested food staying in stomach or intestine for a longer time which further foster the growth of pathogens in the GUT.  So If you are suffering from Indigestion for a long time and it’s not getting resolved do check whether you are always stressed or in a state of hurry or you panic easily.

In this case It make sense to add foods and techniques which can activate parasympathetic system (Yin). 

  • Relaxation techniques like diaphragmatic breathing, yoga, massage and meditation can be one of the few tools to deal with digestive issues. Avoid watching sports, horror flicks or thriller while eating as this can interfere with digestion. It’s better to listen to calming music while eating.

  • Including foods or nutrients like herbal teas, magnesium, ashwagandha, cottage cheese, ghee, holy basil will promote more Yin in body by balancing the autonomic nervous system.  

This is the reason why good restaurants play calm music and low lights purposely so that you end up eating more and food is better digested while clubs where there is loud music  you end up drinking more rather than eating.



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