How Does Stress Affect the Gut?

Feeling stressed, anxious, angry or sad while eating will have a short and long-term effect on the functions of the gastrointestinal tract. 

Research continues to report that exposure to stress results in alterations of the bidirectional microbiota-gut-brain axis interactions (“brain-gut axis”). 
“The major effects of stress on gut physiology include: 

1) alterations in gastrointestinal motility; 2) increase in visceral perception; 
3) changes in gastrointestinal secretion; 4) increase in intestinal permeability; 
5) negative effects on regenerative capacity of gastrointestinal mucosa and mucosal blood flow; and 
6) negative effects on intestinal microbiota.”
Although functional GI disorders (FGIDs) are not considered to be psychological diseases, the research continues to support to notion that the brain plays an important role.  
Dr. Emeran Mayer, MD recommends that: “we can each take care with what, when, and how we eat to promote healthy diversity in our gut microbiome. We can seek to maintain a positive emotional state as much as possible by relaxing and enjoy mealtimes. There are many simple forms of stress reduction that can be employed such as regular exercise, abdominal breathing, or progressive muscle relaxation.”
In clinical practice, I not only focus on what an individual is eating but will delve into when and how they eat. There is a significant difference between eating mindfully and slowly, and what l refer to as “inhaling” food. I encourage all of my patients to step away from their televisions, multiple screens and distractions, and eat in silence. Even if it begins with 5-10 minutes at a time, it is progress. 

International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders – IFFGD

This information is in no way intended to replace the guidance of your doctor. We advise seeing a physician whenever a health problem arises requiring an expert’s care. © Copyright 1998-2019 International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders, Inc. (IFFGD). All Rights Reserved.

Wishing you wellness,

Mary Clark