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Stress and the Stomach

The past year has been filled with uncertainty. While I was hopeful that by this point I would be able to write about the successes of the Coronavirus vaccine, there are still too many unanswered questions for me to provide an evidenced-based commentary. Still, the pandemic needs to be acknowledged. It continues to shape everyone’s everyday lives and if this has you stressed out- you are not alone! While we previously discussed how stress from the pandemic may be causing you to lose sleep (read here), another common side effect of stress is indigestion.

The gut is filled with neurons and bacteria that communicate with the brain. In times of stress, this gut environment may make you more susceptible to discomfort in the stomach in the form of bloating or indigestion. Unfortunately, the gut-brain communication works both ways. This means that the more stressed you are, the more discomfort you feel which in turn leads to “pain” signals being sent and causing more stress.

As stress increases, it is possible to develop a leaky gut. In this case, gut bacteria (along with other substances) may leave the bowels and enter into the blood, giving them the ability to spread all through the body. Among the other substances that leak out from the gut are food and nutrients. If the body recognizes these food particles as “invaders”, it will try to fight them off, ultimately leading to food sensitivities. These developing food sensitivities and associated inflammation may be symptoms of long-term stress.

Another important factor to consider is how the pandemic has changed your eating habits. You may find yourself on a different eating schedule while working from home or possibly are eating out less (or more) due to changing regulations. Altering both what you eat and how often can also contribute to indigestion and may possibly lead to heartburn.

If you have found yourself feeling any signs of indigestion including bloating, stomach discomfort or nausea, or if you are experiencing other stress-related symptoms, schedule a free intro call with GLIM today!

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