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Is there a Connection between your Brain and your Gut?


Can such a connection be affected and contribute to your levels of anxiety and also to any digestion issues you may have?

The brain has a 2-way communication with all the organs in the body, controlling and also receiving messages from these organs. This is no different for your stomach and intestines, and your brain will have a direct effect on these organs. For example, if you think of food, you will salivate AND your stomach will release its juices before the food actually gets there. This communication goes both ways.


In fact, we have quite a few expressions that speak about this gut-brain connection. We talk about having a gut-wrenching experience which is an experience that makes you feel extremely shocked or upset. When we are nervous we have butterflies in our stomach. We also hear the expression: I felt my stomach drop, and this is another expression that refers to an emotion or state of shock. Certain situations may also make you feel nauseous.



But is this connection just in our imagination or is it real?

Actually the gut-brain connection is very real and it can mean that when we are anxious, we may have stomach problems. The reverse of this is also true. Various emotions such as fear and anxiety, sadness, happiness, anger, can trigger symptoms in our gastrointestinal tract.

There are many reasons that may cause you distress in your gut. For example, you may have an upset stomach, constipation, diarrhea, excess gas, abdominal cramps and heartburn. You may also have acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome or some sensitivity or allergic reaction to particular foods. These may all be physical causes, but emotional triggers such as stress and anxiety may also affect your gut and cause you distress in your gastrointestinal tract. Because of this intimate connection and two-way communication between the brain and the gut, distress in your stomach can be the cause OR the effect of your anxiety and stress.


There are cases when a person may experience gastrointestinal distress with no obvious physical cause. In such cases, it is crucial to consider the person’s emotional situation and wellbeing as this could provide vital clues to help heal the person’s distressed gut.


Anxiety and gastrointestinal health

Do you feel nauseated if you have to give a presentation or a public speech? Do you feel tummy pains when you are feeling stressed out? This is NOT just in your head but is a result of the close interaction between your brain and your gut. Your mental and psychological state and your levels of stress may create physical triggers that cause you pain and other symptoms in your gastrointestinal tract.



Additionally, stress can make the existing pain seem even worse. So if you already do have a condition in your gut, stress and anxiety can exacerbate it and make the pain and the symptoms feel more severe.


Numerous studies have shown that looking at gastrointestinal symptoms from a psychological aspect and also treating this aspect may lead to greater improvements than just evaluating the physical symptoms on their own. The secret here is treating the person as a whole to understand whether such digestive symptoms are purely physical or whether they are stemming from underlying stress, anxiety or depression.


Are your stomach or intestinal problems related to stress or purely physical? Do consult with your doctor as he or she can help you come up with strategies to help you deal with the stressors in your life, and also ease the discomforts in your gut.


Should you wish to investigate the possibility of your having a food intolerance, Clinipath, has partnered with a UK organisation, Yorktest, to provide the premium Gold Food Intolerance Test, a comprehensive food and drink intolerance test which indicates whether you have a sensitivity to over 200 food and drink ingredients. You can read more about our Intolerance testing here.


If you would like more information about our Food Intolerance Testing, contact us today on +356 21221355, 9985 2404 or send an email on info@clinipath.com.mt.

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