Emotions the over looked cause of digestive problems.

Updated: Sep 2, 2019

These days when it comes to gut health it's pretty much common knowledge that probiotics are important, that refined sugar is not good and feeds bad bugs, apple cider vinegar taken before meals and or in the morning aids digestion. And anyone with IBS or digestive problems will tell you that certain foods upset their stomach, so to many it’s pretty obvious that foods we eat directly affect our digestive system. However, the one thing that we don’t hear much about is how emotions affect digestive health and in my professional opinion emotional health is the most important factor as it sets the foundation of gut health and it’s almost always over looked by Drs and natural health therapists alike!

The gut and brain are directly linked. We have many sayings like “it makes me feel nervous to my stomach”, or “I’ve got butterflies” these directly describe this connection. Our emotions directly affect our gut function. Here’s why:

We have two main types of nervous system in our bodies, the central nervous system (CNS), comprised primarily of the brain and spinal cord, and the peripheral nervous system (PNS), which controls pretty much everything else. The gut is part of the PNS and is controlled by the enteric nervous system also known as the ‘second brain’. The enteric nervous system controls gut function and it arises from the same tissues as the central nervous system during fetal development. It links directly into the central brain and uses many of the same chemical messengers as the central nervous system.

So when your mood changes, so does the mood of your digestive system. When you get a fright, or are stressed your digestive system literally shuts down and you can’t digest your food properly and are more likely to experience reflux, gas and bloating. When you feel anxious, so does your tummy and you won’t feel like eating. When you feel relaxed and happy your digestive system also relaxes and you can digest your food properly and will feel hungry.

People who have suffered from large traumas as a child or earlier on in life such as abuse, loss of a parent, a tricky divorce or ongoing disharmony in the family often suffer from gut disorders in adult life. This is because children don’t understand the emotions they feel, they don’t know how to release them, instead the emotions get suppressed and become trapped within the body. The traumatic situations described above make a child feel unsafe and scared. This sort of fear when not addressed can become an emotional framework for a child which is carried right through a person’s life.