How Stress Affects Your Digestion

Part One – Introduction

As a kid, I recall one of my soccer teammates vomiting before important games. He was so nervous that he used to be sick.

I always wondered why this was. Well, over summer I spent a lot of time studying how digestion is affected by stress, and it’s been a real eye opener.

Have you ever heard or used these terms?

  • I’m sick to the stomach
  • I can’t digest the news
  • You make me sick
  • I’m shitting myself (when you’re scared)

There’s a reason for these terms.

In this article series, I’m excited to share with you some truly life changing information that can help you overcome your symptoms and stay healthy for a lifetime.

It has become clear to me that stress is one of the main underlying reasons why digestive symptoms develop and unless your stress levels are resolved, digestive symptoms might be hard to overcome.

Does Stress Underpin All Digestive Symptoms?

If you’re familiar with my articles, videos and books, you’ll know that I’m keen on letting people know that digestive symptoms are typically caused by the following factors:

  • Bad foods like gluten
  • Bad bugs like pylori, parasites and Candida
  • Low stomach acid levels
  • Low pancreatic enzyme levels

This is definitely still the case – these things definitely cause digestive problems, and it’s the main reason I recommend you run a home stool test.

BUT, I wanted to look deeper and understand why some people develop problems with foods and bad bugs.

  1. pylori – Why doesn’t EVERYONE get Symptoms?

One of the main reasons I wanted to study this topic was to figure out how and why some people have, for example, nasty H. pylori symptoms, where as some people don’t have any symptoms at all.

Sure, we know there are different H. pylori strains (for example, CagA and VacA) and we know these different strains seem to cause more symptoms than others. But that’s definitely not the whole story.

My research uncovered secrets about how perceptions, stress levels, emotions, immune function, gut function and the trillions of microbes interact to create symptoms.

It’s not about the food or the bug – it’s about how your body interacts with them.

Thankfully, it’s not as complex as you might think.

10 ways stress affects your digestion

I’ve read hundreds of studies on this topic, but I want to keep it simple and give you an outline of the ways stress affects your gut, so here goes:

  1. Stress reduces blood flow and nutrient delivery to your digestive organs, reducing their energy and efficiency
  2. It brings down stomach acid, enzyme and bile levels making it harder to digest food
  3. It slows down your stomach and stops it from emptying properly (this can cause heartburn and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), nausea and vomiting in some cases)
  4. Stress speeds up colon function, making you want to void your bowels (there’s literally a reason for the term “I’m shitting myself…”)
  5. It reduces immune activity in your intestine, encouraging an imbalance in microbes; can also alter immune function so that you begin reacting to food
  6. It reduces “good bugs” like Bifidobacter and encourages the growth of several “bad bugs”
  7. Stress “turns up” the potency (known as virulence factors) of bad bugs, making them more problematic and dangerous; it also affects biofilm formation, which makes it tougher to eradicate bad bugs
  8. It leads to increased inflammation levels
  9. It increases damage to your intestinal lining, leading to a situation called “leaky gut syndrome”, which leads to symptoms around your body
  10. Stress increases pain sensitivity in your digestive tract, increasing pain levels

Wow! Who’d have thought a little bit of stress could have a such a wide range of effects on your gut?

Why’s this important?

In fact, it’s very important: The effects listed in points 1-10 can lead to any or many of the following digestive symptoms:

  • Heartburn
  • Acid reflux (GERD)
  • Ulcers
  • Belching
  • Bad breath
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases like colitis and Crohn’s disease

Other symptoms can follow:

Once your digestive system has sustained damage as a result of points 1-10, you can also begin to develop symptoms in other areas of your body. Why?

First you won’t digest and absorb your food properly.

One of the best examples of this is highlighted scientific literature showing that H. pylori infections can reduce iron, vitamin B12, and vitamin C levels. The resulting nutrient deficiencies can lead to many symptoms.

Second, you can develop a leaky gut, which allows unwanted particles such as bacterial toxins (endotoxin / lipopolysaccharides) into your blood.

Leaky gut syndrome is not acknowledged by doctors, but a term called “increased intestinal permeability” is, and there are hundreds if not thousands of studies showing how leaky gut causes problems in other areas of your body.

Third, inflammation in your gut, along with nutrient deficiencies and leaky gut syndrome create more stress in your body.

This creates hormone imbalances, including possible problems with your thyroid gland, sex hormones, and adrenal stress hormones.

What “body-wide” symptoms can this create?

Honestly, there’s virtually no end to the possible symptoms and diseases that can be caused by the imbalances we’re talking about and it’s all in the scientific literature:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Skin symptoms and diseases
  • Chronic fatigue and energy problems
  • Obesity or rapid weight loss
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Cognitive problems
  • Autism
  • Central nervous system disorders
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Reproductive problems

I want to reiterate that this information comes from a huge body of scientific literature that has surfaced over the last decade, with most of it emerging in the last 5 years. As such, your doctor might not know about it.

Over the next few days I’m going to share this research with you and dissect the info, break it into bite-sized chunks for you.

You’ll see how managing your stress levels can have a profoundly beneficial effect on your digestive health and therefore the rest of your body.

I’ll also teach you how to check your digestive function AND introduce you to my stress management methods, which I’ll be launching at a brand new seminar in October.

Would you like some help?

If you would like to discuss your health history, family history and symptoms via a comprehensive case review and consultation, please click here.

To arrange an informal 10-15min conversation so we can be sure we’re able to help you, please click here.

Talk soon!



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