Like all human emotions, stress creates physiological changes in your body and can affect your health.
While you are under stress, your heart rate can go up, your blood pressure may rise, and blood is shunted away from your midsection, going to your arms, legs, and head for quick thinking, fighting or fleeing. This is meant to be a temporary response to help with survival, but when stress becomes chronic, as is the case for millions of Americans, it can wreak havoc on your body, especially your digestive system.
The stress response contributes to a number of detrimental changes with in your gut and can cause inflammatory bowel syndrome, irritable bowel syndrome, food allergies, ulcers, acid reflux, and other gastrointestinal diseases.
The potential damage stress causes your body makes reducing stress even more important. Common stress-reduction tools include exercise, yoga, meditation, laughter, deep breathing, and positive visualization.
You can also offset intestinal problems by improving your gut health. Avoid eating excess sugar and fructose, which distorts the ratio of good to bad bacteria in your gut, and increase the amount of fermented foods, which are rich sources of probiotics.
What strategies do you find most helpful in trying to reduce stress in your own life?