To digest our food, we require…
- Stomach (hydrochloric) acid to break down protein and help us absorb minerals
- Pancreatic enzymes help us break down protein, fat, and carbohydrates
- Bile to break down fat
Whenever you eat, you trigger the release of these three compounds, so that the food to come can be broken down. If we don’t have enough, the end result is maldigestion, which can show up as bloating, indigestion, reflux, food reactions, burping, and wind.
What we fail to recognise is that the biggest thing that can impact the release of our bile, hydrochloric acid, and enzymes falls outside of the gut itself, and that is the impact of stress.
When we are stressed, we are in ‘fight or flight’ which is an ancient survival mechanism to help keep us alive. In flight or fight, our body shuts down the production of these important digestive components.
The opposite of fight or flight is called ‘feeding and fornicating’ or ‘rest and digest’ and yep, you guessed it, is when we digest our food best. We’re in this state when we are calm and unstressed.
There is no point going gluten-free, paleo, or anything else if you don’t also look to address your stress. Stress can come in many forms, but here are some of the most common ways it presents itself with our clients at Shift.
- You’re overworked
- You have children (period)
- You are always ‘busy’
- You’re a worrier or have anxiety
- You don’t have any downtime in your day or week
- You have instability in your relationships, which causes emotional stress
- You have family or friend drama, which is causing emotional stress
- You have health complaints that are causing you to worry all the time
It is so important to address stress if you’re trying to heal your gut or any health complaint about that matter. Stress causes more disease than smoking, but it’s so normalised that we don’t take it seriously enough.
One way to cope with stress is to get to know yourself better and to work on your emotional health and resilience. At Shift, we help patients with emotional coaching, psychotherapy, and hypnotherapy.
We also have created our MindShift program specifically to help with this – it’s an 8-week course to help you get calm, clear, and connected. Check it out here.