How May Stress Be Connected To IBS-related Gut Issues?
Unlike other diseases with a clear cause, many different factors may contribute to the origin of IBS. However, there is scientific evidence suggesting stress as a key factor in the onset of the disease. In addition to the physical and physiological stresses occurring from the common GI symptoms, the limitations of everyday life leads to further deterioration of both well-being and life quality. It becomes a negative spiral difficult to stop on your own. (1)(2)(3)
The impact of stress on the gastrointestinal tract and microbiota
Earlier stress events, chronic and acute stress may affect onset of IBS (4). The body’s multi-way system includes the nervous system in the brain and the gut (enteric nervous system). A busy lifestyle with psychological stress, anxiety and negative emotions impact gut behaviour. Combined with a lack of recovery, this leads to worsened gastrointestinal distress (5)(6).
Gut microbiota is a key component for good health. In patients with IBS or IBS-related gut
issues the intestinal flora, mucosa and bowel movements are often impaired. Chronic stress
changes the composition of the gut bacteria and increases the number of mast cells. Mast cells are associated with allergic reactions, but are also included in our immune system and fights pathogens amongst others. Furthermore, mast cell degranulation results in impaired gut barrier and deterioration of intestinal immune system (7).
Cortisol, dietary pattern, and toxins
Cortisol is a stress hormone in our bodies and is secreted as a reaction to stress. The levels are controlled through the HPA-axis, the body’s “stress system”. Healthy individuals with a normal HPA-axis have a normal cortisol secretion that follows a rhythm. In chronic stress, the axis is disrupted and leads to abnormal cortisol levels, change of the gut bacteria, damaged intestinal mucosa and increased gut permeability (7). In addition, individuals exposed to higher stress have a greater tendency to choose extra tasty foods which in turn, when consumed, promote unfavourable bacteria. These bacteria produce toxic substances and neurohormones that lead to continued negative eating patterns and mood (7).
Lifestyle-changes may improve gut-related issues
As you may now know, there are different types of stress affecting the body. This and how we feel may contribute to the onset of IBS. In addition to stress and gut microbiota, there are several other factors affecting gut issues, for example what you eat and your level of physical activity. Gut issues are very common and many people are suffering in silence. Together with Food Pharmacy we created Magbalans-metoden – a program where you, through education and practical tips, get help from the experts of Nordic Clinic on your journey to a healthy gut and increased quality of life. Read more about the program here (Note! The program is in Swedish).
Har du problem med magen? Just nu anordnar vi ett program för dig med magbesvär. Start 6 mars 2023, anmälan här.
This article was originally published as a guest editor post at foodpharmacy.se
By: Graeme Jones, clinical physiologist and CEO at Nordic Clinic Stockholm.
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