How Anxiety Affects Nutrient Absorption, From An Expert

What is happening? Well, several things. The sympathetic nervous system directs the body to produce more cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Your muscles are tense. Your heart begins to beat quickly. Your blood pressure rises. Blood sugar rises. Your appetite increases, especially for foods rich in sugar and carbohydrates. Your thyroid gland becomes sluggish, which means your metabolism is slowing down. Your digestion shuts down. And your immune system is weak. With all of this, and especially having your digestive system offline, how does your body process the nutrient-rich dinner you’ve prepared? In short, it cannot, or at least not completely and completely.

When you’re stressed, your body is stimulated to protect itself, conserve energy, and store more fat, not digest and assimilate the nutrients in food. Plus your senses are weak, so your food doesn’t taste good, and you don’t feel as happy with your food as when you’re relaxed.

Over time, all that stress not only hampers your digestive system, but can seriously damage it, weaken the lining of your gut, increase its permeability (commonly referred to as leaky gut), harm your microbiome, and build up bacteria. that help break down food.

Crazy, right? It all happens because of those anxious thoughts about food. When most people think of sources of stress, they think of losing a job, facing financial challenges, an accident or injury, a health problem, or the loss of a loved one. Or more everyday situations like a lack of time at work or a driver veering in your lane on the highway. We don’t realize that what’s on our mind—I will gain weight, I need to change my body, I should eat less carbohydrates—It can trigger our stress response, too.

Whether it’s an event or thought that triggers a stress response alarm, your body reacts to exactly the same cascade of hormonal changes. And to make matters worse, it doesn’t matter whether your thoughts are correct or not. As long as you believe them, you can create a stress response.

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