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Stress aside, these 3 emotions can impact your gut health

Published on:26 November 2021, 11:00am IST
The digestive system is vulnerable to the presence of stress. Read to know what emotions can take a toll on your digestive health.
Aayushi Gupta
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gut health
Your emotions impact your digestive health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
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Have you ever thought about the etymology of the phrase ‘butterflies in the stomach’? If you dig a little, you will find out the explanation. Stress or excitement lead to reduced blood flow through the gut, and that produces this feeling! Similarly, if you feel bloated or gassy, and have been running to the bathroom more than usual, of course it’s time to check your gut health, but also your stress levels!

Stress can affect your gut health 

Stress can affect every part of your digestive system and can cause a range of digestive problems that include indigestion, nausea, heartburn, and irritable bowel syndrome. 

gut-brain connection
Your gut and mind have a strong link. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

To learn more about it, HealthShots got in touch with Dr Roy Patankar, Director and Gastroenterologist, Zen Multispeciality Hospital. 

Dr Patankar says gut and brain share a direct correlation

Are you aware that the communication system between your gut and brain is known as the gut-brain axis? Dr Patankar says, “The gut tends to have neurons that are connected to the brain via nerves in the nervous system. Your gut and brain are also linked via chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters produced in the brain are responsible for controlling feelings and emotions.”

“The gut microbes tend to produce a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which controls feelings of fear and anxiety. Thus, one’s gastrointestinal tract is sensitive to emotions like anger, anxiety, sadness, elation.” 

One will feel nauseated before an important meeting or while giving a presentation. So, there is an intimate connection between gut and brain. You will feel like eating more during a stressful situation and then it can lead to acidity.

So what are the emotions that can affect the digestive system?

Physical reactions to many mental health issues are natural. Your body is designed to react in that way. Here are some emotions which hamper your stomach health, according to Dr Patankar: 

1. Anxiety

The feeling of anxiety is one of the most common emotions that can cause stomach issues. If you are anxious due to a certain situation, like a failed presentation or workplace stress, it can upset the delicate balance of digestion. One can feel nauseated too.

gut-brain connection
Don’t overthink and let it affect your mental peace. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

2. Stress

Are you stressed due to a financial crisis or a broken relationship? Have you ever had to make a gut-wrenching decision under pressure? Stress takes a toll on every part of digestion. Dr Patankar says, “Stress causes the esophagus to go into spasms. It also increases the acid in your stomach, which results in indigestion. There can be diarrhoea and constipation, bloating, frequent trips to the loo, and poor appetite. Stress tends to aggravate gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), peptic ulcers, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).”

Also, read: Is anxiety causing your stomach to hurt? If so, here’s why it happens

3. Anger

Some short and long-term health problems like headache, insomnia, abdominal pain, and digestion problems, have been linked to anger which includes. People have different physical responses to anger. However, most people with anger management issues often suffer from stomach ailments. 

gut-brain connection
Healthy gut means healthy you! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“Extreme anger will not aid in releasing chemicals that are required for healthy digestion. Intense anger also releases stomach acids that can irritate the ulcers and cause diarrhoea, constipation,  and abdominal pain,” says Dr Patankar.

4. Depression

Abdominal pain that worsens, especially when stress arises, may be a sign of depression. In fact, Harvard Medical School researchers suggest that stomach discomfort like cramps, bloating and nausea may be a sign of poor mental health. 

“Depression can definitely disrupt gut health and can lead to diarrhoea, constipation, overeating, or poor appetite,” says Dr Patankar. 

Aayushi Gupta Aayushi Gupta

Candid, outspoken, but prudent--Aayushi is exploring her place in media world.