Your nervous system controls your digestive tract. When you are stressed, changes to your nervous system can cause a lot of problems for your digestive health. If you start to notice an increase in digestive problems or stress in your life, it is important to take action in order to avoid worsening health problems.

1. Increase or Decrease of Appetite

Different people have different reactions to stress.You might lose your appetite, causing you to not get all of the nutrients that your body needs for cellular repair, brain activity and colon health. Some people eat more when they are stressed. If you turn to comfort foods such as pasta, chocolate or sweets, you may notice weight gain, bloating and fatigue after the sugar rush leaves your body.

2. Indigestion

When you feel stressed, your body’s digestion slows down. Food may sit in your stomach and intestines for longer. This could result in more burping when you eat a meal and for a couple of hours after. As the food finally makes its way to your small and large intestines, the slowed digestion may cause you to have more bloating and flatulence. Indigestion is uncomfortable and can make it difficult for you to sleep at night or get comfortable when seated. Decreasing your consumption of alcohol, caffeine and acidic foods may help with the indigestion while you are stressed.

3. Worsening of Existing Gut Problems

Stress worsens the problems you already have with your esophagus, stomach and gut. If you have a peptic ulcer or a hernia, your acid reflux may get worse when you have more stress in your life. Stress is also known to be a trigger for irritable bowel syndrome. It might trigger new bouts of diarrhea, stomach cramps and abdominal pain. Inflammatory bowel disease symptoms also increase as your stress level rises. This is because your body secretes more cortisol and other stress hormones, which cause inflammation throughout all of your organs. If you would like to learn more, visit Digestive Center and check out their online resources.

4. Changes in Bowel Movements

Your bowel movements may also be affected by increased levels of stress in your life. Some people may experience diarrhea when they have acute stress. This is often the case if you have an inflammatory bowel or irritable bowel. On the other hand, you might experience constipation, especially if the stress in your life lasts for more than a few days. As the inflammation increases throughout your body, food slows down in your gut. Your body absorbs the water from the gut, slowing down the process even more. Your stool may be difficult and painful to pass. Staying hydrated and exercising daily may help with the digestion and your level of stress.