When you are stressed, your digestion is compromised before you even put food in your mouth, increasing your risk for developing digestive distress like heartburn and leaky gut.
Stress compromises peristalsis, which is the constriction and relaxation of the intestinal muscles and what helps move the food through the intestines. In other words, it’s essential for food absorption and waste elimination.
Additionally, your body’s ability to produce stomach acid is compromised when you are feeling stressed. If you don’t have adequate stomach acid, you may not be able to fully digest all of the food, particularly proteins. Stomach acid also helps protect us from pathogenic bacteria and viruses, making stomach acid important for not only digestion but overall health.
Another hugely important consequence that occurs as a result of stress is the impact it has on our gut bacteria. Research has shown that stress can actually cause changes in the composition of our gut bacteria. This can have many implications as our gut bacteria play an important role in digestion, the immune system, and even producing neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine that affect mood.