Have you ever felt sick to your stomach or get butterflies in the tummy whenever you are stressed? Well nothing better explains the Gut-Brain connection than these analogies.
Ever since I remember, I have myself struggled with anxiety and stress and this often results in nervous tummy.
But once I am out of that stressful situation; say you take me on a wonderful vacation, I would be eating to my heart’s content and all my digestive problems vanishes in thin air.
Any kind of stress takes a toll on my digestive health with symptoms ranging from either feeling nauseated or loss of appetite; either frequent trips to bathroom or feeling constipated; and then sometimes it trigger my symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) .
After consulting at least 3-4 gastroenterologist ,undergoing 2 endoscopies and ultimately being suggested by doctors to manage my anxiety and bring changes in my lifestyle and eating habits, I am so far been able to work towards balancing my anxiety and digestive health.
Connection between Gut and Mental health:
Just like brain, our gut has many millions of neurons which constantly communicate with brain. When the brain is stressed or anxious, the body releases chemical which enters the digestive system and interferes in the working of our gut flora ( the good microbes in the gut) . This results in stress related gut symptoms like the one I mentioned for myself.
Now one can also look in this way: when our gastrointestinal (GI) tract gets irritated, it send signals to brain that can prompt in stress , anxiety and change in mood. So you see it’s a vicious cycle!!
What works for me to maintain my Gut health and , in turn my Mental health:
Know which food keeps the Gut healthy : To start with I reworked on my diet- I slowly started eliminating all kinds of wrong food, wrong amount and wrong time from my dietary routine . For instance, now I know that red chilli in my food irritates my gut, highly processed foods at night gives me acidity , coffee, raw onions trigger heartburn – so I avoid eating these.
And To take care of my gut I have started adding probiotics in my diet; one the best way to increase gut flora . Also I eat on time and eat light, especially at night so my food is properly digested before I hit bed.
Shake off those Negative feelings: Its scientifically proven that our thoughts effects our metabolism. As mentioned earlier, our gut is full of nerves , and has direct connection with our brain; so any stressful signal it receives from brain , it irritates the gut nerves , causing stomach-aches or other digestive issues.
So it’s better to ward off those negative thoughts and emotions , the moment it enters your mind; and the trick I use is to switch my mind to some pleasant place or incident . Trust me , it helps.
Breathe right: You must have been told or read that one should practice breathing exercise to bring calmness to the mind; quite right, but most of us don’t do it right. Foremost whenever you are stressed , stop what you are doing and do breathing exercise for FULL ONE MINUTE. You need to breathe in slow through your nose in such a way that you stomach pushes out on inhalation. Breathe out again through your nose as the stomach deflates. Try to exhale for 6 seconds and take in air for four seconds.
These are the basic three things which I strive to do on regular basis to keep my gut problems under control , so that my mind remains stress-free.
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