How Stress Affects Digestion—And What You Can Do About It

Living in a fast-paced world driven by work pressure and responsibilities isn’t easy. The constant hustle can leave you feeling stressed out and low on energy. While you might be able to cope with stress temporarily, over time, it will eventually catch up and result in multiple health problems. One of the key issues we will see here is how stress affects digestion and your overall gut health.

Stress and the digestive system

With stress come issues like hair-loss, weight irregularities and what you might least expect: digestive problems. But how does stress affect digestion? Now, the answer to this is related to your gut, often referred to as the second brain of your body. The gut and the brain are in constant sync to maintain your health and body balance. In fact, your digestive system relies on the same type of neurons and neurotransmitters that are found in the brain and spinal cord. Hence, any instability in your brain’s functioning can have a direct impact on your digestive system.

When you are stressed, you’ll often notice that your digestive system has an immediate reaction and gets affected. Nausea, dry mouth or throat, acidity, stomach ache, vomiting etc are a few symptoms that you might want to look out for. It is the brain’s fight or flight response that sends a signal to the gut which then, in turn slows down the process of digestion. Furthermore, the oxygen supply to the stomach decreases due to the brain’s flawed functioning.

If not taken care of in time, stress can lead to:

  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Syndrome
  • Peptic ulcer
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disorder

How to improve your gut health and tackle stress

However, there are a few measures you can take to prevent stress from adversely affecting your body:

  • Exercise regularly. Exercising releases endorphins in your body which can uplift your mood and elevate your energy levels. They are nothing but happy hormones which your mind and body require when feeling stressed.
  • Practice meditation. This helps curb anxiety and gather your thoughts together. Moreover, meditation is also said to improve your concentration levels and help you perform better in your daily tasks.
  • Quit smoking. Smoking is a major cause of indigestion as a result of which it is advised that you quit smoking if you’re in the habit.
  • Switch to healthy eating habits. Consume superfoods like spinach, citrus fruits, mushrooms and drink green tea to cleanse your body of any toxins and ensure that your gut health stays intact. They are anti-oxidant in nature. Avoid stress-eating as that is merely a temporary escape from reality. Instead, eat mindfully and lead a healthy lifestyle.


In today’s world, it may not be possible to escape from stress entirely; however, incorporating a few healthy habits such as mindful eating, exercising regularly, and taking care to improve your wellbeing overall can go a long way in helping deal with stress. While this may not happen overnight, once you start making these habits a practice, you will gradually understand the benefits of mindfulness.

Interesting Related Article: “What is work stress? Definition and examples