How happiness affects your digestion
Many experts have referred to the digestive system as a ‘second brain’ due to its sensitivity to emotions and a major factor in your emotional state are the serotonin levels in your body.
The complex interaction that exists between the digestive tract and brain is primarily due to the enteric nervous system. Essentially, this refers to the thousands of nerves aligned across the intestines that alert muscles to contract to move food along the digestive tract.
Similar to the one in your head, your gut's ‘brain’ relies on neuro-transmitters such as serotonin – popularly known as the feel-good chemical – to maintain its wellbeing.
A deficit of serotonin can lead to depression so the levels must be sus-tained in order to maintain a healthy digestive system.
How stress and anger affects your digestion
The intimate connection between the digestive system and brain is never more clearly evident than when you may feel intestinal pain during times of stress.
We seem to underestimate the extent to which psychology has an effect on our bodies, when biologically it is the combination of physical elements and psychology that cause pain and other bowel indicators.
Studies have shown that prolonged exposure to stress can lead to the development of several gastrointestinal diseases such as peptic ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome and food allergies.
Stress may seem like a purely psychological issue but it can manifest itself in many physiological ways. Ensuring you are able to relax and unwind is vital in maintaining healthy digestion.
Symptoms of Stress
Could stress be a contributing factor to your heartburn or digestive issues? Here are some common symptoms of stress that you should discuss with your doctor:
- Weight loss or gain
- Sleep Problems
- Stomach upset
- Low energy
- Changes in food or alcohol consumption
- Increased desire to be alone
- Frequently thinking and talking about stressful situations
- Taking up bad habits such as smoking or practicing such habits more than usual
- Nervous Behaviour (Nail biting, fidgeting, pacing)
- Short temperedness and frustration
- Difficulty in concentrating
- Low self-esteem
These symptoms are not an exhaustive list and people suffering from stress may display a wide range of symptoms – which is why it’s important to discuss concerns you may have about your digestion or mental health with your doctor.
Always read the label. If symptoms are severe or prolonged, you should consult a doctor or pharmacist. If you are pregnant, medicines can affect the unborn baby. Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any medicine during pregnancy.