We are all familiar with effects emotions can have on your stomach; think butterflies when you’re excited or in love, the knotted feeling when you’re nervous or even sadly, receiving ‘gut wrenching’ bad news. It’s interesting that each of these sayings are so well-known and describe that internal feeling deep within your stomach perfectly but what is actually happening on the inside? In this article we are going to explore the relationship between these emotional responses in your brain including stress and the going’s on in your gastrointestinal tract.
In this article we will focus on what is happening internally due to stress. Essentially, the gut microbiome is the environment in your gut, made up of a dense population of bacteria. Foods we eat can affect the microbiome of bacteria resulting in gastrointestinal issues such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Diseases. A reminder – the gastrointestinal tract is from the point of entry into your body, i.e the mouth to the point of exit, and everything in between.
The Gut-Brain Axis has been a hot topic in recent years in terms of scientific research. Previously there was little known about this subject and some even disputed the existence of such relationship. However, such claims have since been thrown out and it has been PROVEN that there is a bi-directional relationship between the two. In other words, the gut can influence the brain and vice versa by signals via the central nervous system. The signals between the gut and brain work simultaneously both ways – stomach to brain and brain to stomach, meaning stress can signal to the stomach to respond or equally a feeling in the stomach can tell your brain stress is near – they are in constant communication with one another. Stress can affect this communication massively!