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Got Indigestion? It Could Be Stress

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It’s pretty hard not to be stressed these days. Black unemployment is on the rise, national unemployment is on the rise and taxes are expected to increase, depleting our spending money. People already find it especially difficult to avoid stress during the holiday season. However, managing your stress levels will be important as it could easily be affecting your health. Stress can affect your digestion and your livelihood, so it is important to know how it affects your system and learn how to manage it.

“What Happens to Digestion Under Stress?

Digestion is controlled by the enteric nervous system, a system composed of hundreds of millions of nerves that communicate with the central nervous system. When stress activates the “flight or fight” response in your central nervous system, digestion can shut down because your central nervous system shuts down blood flow, affects the contractions of your digestive muscles, and decreases secretions needed for digestion. Stress can cause inflammation of the gastrointestinal system, and make you more susceptible to infection.

“Stress can cause your esophagus to go into spasms. It can increase the acid in your stomach causing indigestion. Under stress, the mill in your stomach can shut down and make you feel nauseous. Stress can cause your colon to react in a way that gives you diarrhea or constipation. We are all familiar with the athlete or the student who has to rush to the bathroom before the big game or the big exam,” explains Koch. “Although stress may not cause stomach ulcers, celiac disease, or inflammatory bowel disease, it can make these and other diseases of digestion worse.”

Keeping Stress Under Control to Aid Digestion

“One of the best ways to manage stress and maintain healthy digestion is moderate exercise,” Koch says. Physical activity relieves tension and stimulates the release of brain chemicals called endorphins that relieve stress and improve your mood…”

 

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