Stressed? Why you're feeling it in your gut

Stressed? Why you're feeling it in your gut

We are living in very stressful times, it's enough to give anyone heartburn! But, is there a link between the two? There is...but it's a tricky one. Did you ever notice that you get "butterflies" in your stomach before having to deliver a big speech or presentation? Or, perhaps pains in your stomach when work and life seems to get tough? It leads many to believe that our gastrointestinal health is intimately connected to our emotions.

Stress has always been thought to be one cause of stomach ulcers, Crohn's Disease, inflammatory bowel disease and other gastrointestinal problems. It is actually proven that bacterial infections and underlying inflammation are the ones to blame for stomach problems, not stress!

Related story: The truth about Crohn's Disease

In a survey conducted, the majority of people who had experienced acid reflux claimed that stress was the trigger. The explanation for this: "Hypervigilance," also recognized as the act of becoming more sensitive to and having greater awareness of physical symptoms when stressed. People may not notice symptoms if they're not stressed. It has also been suggested that people who are stressed have lower levels of prostaglandins, a hormone-like substance that helps to coat the lining of your stomach and protect it from acid.

Certain drugs can block the production of prostaglandins including ibuprofen and naproxen. These drugs have also been known to cause stomach problems such as nausea and ulcers.

The key here is to reduce stress! Easier said than done, but the truth is, stress reduction will lead to less heartburn and other gastrointestinal problems. There are things you can do to help alleviate stress; the best one being exercise. This could mean walking for half an hour a day or even a yoga class. You should make it a point to devote time to yourself at least once during the day whether it's reading a book, walking or a bubble bath. Creative hobbies such as writing and painting are also great stress relievers. Healthy habits go a long way in battling stress. Do yourself and your stomach a favor... Reduce Stress!