Stress and Your Digestion

The 6 Main Factors Affecting Your Digestion When It Comes To Stress

Most patients I see in my practice eat under some kind of stressful situation, like a time constraint (during their lunch break in front of a screen), while watching the six o’clock news at night, checking messages on their cell phone or checking out how many “likes” they have on FaceBook. Interesting statistics recently have revealed that around one in five in the USA in fact have one main meal of the day in front of FaceBook. You simply can’t digest foods like this. Here are a few factors that you may like to be aware of when it comes to food and stress.

  1. Time Urgency – convenience and fast foods rule today, they have become acceptable to many simply because we “don’t have the time anymore”. And when we do eat, we eat hurried and just eat to get it over and done with. We don’t chew foods properly and many times don’t even look at our foods, up to one third of us look at a screen when we eat. Is it any wonder many of us are constipated?
  2. Eating Under Stress Or Tension – Many families eat under stress or when tense, and many eat whilst at their desk or at work. Today, many families are single parent and there are not enough good family times when everybody sits around the table enjoying a meal and each others company. The TV room has today become the dining room.
  3. Not Eating Breakfast – You would be surprised how many women skip breakfast! My guess is, as many as one in two or three working women with kids just don’t make enough time to have a decent breakfast. By the time morning tea comes around they are hungry, and by 6.00pm they are starving and eat too much, affecting their digestive systems at night. People who skip breakfast are significantly more prone to a higher carbohydrate intake later in the day for an energy boost, especially coffee and chocolate. They will also find themselves having more mood issues. Ouch!
  4. Eating Too Late – placing stress on our ability for our digestive system to adequately break down and absorb our meals. We eat at a time when our body is preparing to rest for the evening.
  5. Too Many Stimulants – Many people rely on tea, coffee and caffeinated drinks today whilst others rely on alcoholic beverages. These stimulants and depressants can wreak havoc with our nervous and digestive systems. We end up getting caught in a no-win situation of fatigue and energy.
  6. Multi-Tasking – A bit similar to time urgency, this term was unheard of when I grew up in the sixties, today it is seen as the norm if you can complete several jobs at once. With the global economies in financial crisis at present, companies are downsizing and placing more strain and workload on their existing employees. The result is that fewer remaining staff are expected to increase their work output and yet get the same pay rate. The end result is that people have less time for food or relaxation breaks, and many work over their lunchtime, arriving home later and more stressed. Teachers are a prime example here; just ask one about their never-ending workload!

What You Can Do

  • It is important in stress not just to treat the physical manifestations of stress, but to also to allow help through proper stress management or counseling. Good lifestyle recommendations for those with stress or burnout include regular relaxation exercises, yoga, tai chi, meditation, massage swimming and walking. I will expand a lot more on the important areas of why relaxation later on.
  • Slow down when you eat, belly-breathe and if possible eat in a relaxed environment. It can make the world of difference!
  • Although there are many specific and effective herbs, minerals and supplements such as amino acids available for stress, whenever I treat a patient presenting with stress, fatigue, burn-out, and poor immunity associated with stress, I recommend adrenal fatigue treatment, in most instances, pharmaceutical medicines are not required.
  • Complete Holmes Rahe Stress Test, this test will give you an insight into how much stress is affecting your body. You will find this test online.
  • It’s all about work/life balance. How are your scales going?

Many people with digestive problems who have SIBO or a Candida yeast infection have one or several underlying stress related problems. In order to truly heal, it is necessary to tackle not just the surface manifestations of the stress, i.e. the physical symptoms by taking an “acid blocker” drug or a sleeping pill from your doctor, but to understand and treat the actual causes of the stresses, whether they be of psychological, emotional, nutritional or toxic origin underpinning your physical complaints.