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Could Stress Cause My Digestion Problems?

by Cindy Gray

Did you know - stress has a major impact on how your gut functions, and may even influence if you’re affected by digestion problems and gut-related disorders?

When you’re healthy, ‘good’ bacteria in your gut live in a mutually beneficial relationship with your body, known as symbiosis.

However, when you’re stressed out - because of overwork, lack of sleep, an infection or illness, improper or insufficient diet or any number of other reasons - the levels of harmful bacteria relative to good bacteria in your gut go up significantly, leading to harmful health consequences.

In other words, stress can lead to digestion problems as a result of a condition known as small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Harmful bacteria successfully compete with good bacteria for nutrients, produce toxic metabolites, and cause direct injury to the small intestine.

As a result, food passage through the small intestine slows down and fewer nutrients are absorbed, including proteins, fats, carbohydrates, B vitamins and other micronutrients.

A study from China looked at the effects of psychological stress on small intestinal mobility and gut bacteria in mice - and how stress affected the relationship between them.

Sixty mice were randomly divided into two groups. One group was housed in close proximity to a hungry cat, to cause them psychological stress while the other group became the control group.

Speed of passage of food through the small intestine was monitored in both groups. At the same time, their small intestines were tested for the presence of lactic acid bacteria (beneficial) and E. coli bacteria (harmful).

The study showed that passage of food through the small intestine was slower in mice that were subjected to psychological stress, compared with controls. Psychological stress also increased the relative ratio of harmful E. coli relative to lactic acid bacteria in the small intestines of these mice.  

In other words - psychological stress slowed the transit time of food, encouraged overgrowth of harmful bacteria and may damage the small intestine, ultimately causing serious digestion problems.

Based on studies such as these, health experts believe that digestion problems caused by stress are connected to relative levels of harmful vs. beneficial bacteria in the gut.

Probiotics such as lactic acid bacteria have been shown to counteract stress-induced changes including reversing damage to intestinal barrier function and impaired gut mobility.

Probiotics are ‘live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host’. They do this by competing with harmful bacteria for essential nutrients and by interfering with biochemical and genetic pathways they trigger.

Millions of Americans suffer from various digestion problems including irregularity, constipation, bloating, embarrassing gas, stomach pain, acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Probiotics have been shown to be an effective therapy for many stress-related digestion problems.

If you suffer from any of them, probiotics taken daily can infuse your small intestine with beneficial bacteria. Once in your intestines, they deliver the living probiotics necessary to balance your gut’s balance of ‘good’ vs. ‘bad’ bacteria, helping to fix any stress-related digestion problem you may have.Are you ready to eat the foods you love without pain and discomfort?

 

Source: Stress and Digestive Problems.

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