What does stress do to your gut health? Here’s all you need to know - Hindustan Times
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What does stress do to your gut health? Here’s all you need to know

Apr 17, 2024 06:26 PM IST

We ask experts about the impact of stress on gut health and ways to keep your tum happy.

There’s no question that the world, at large, is experiencing unprecedented levels of stress. According to the 2023 India Wellness Index, 77% Indians regularly suffer from at least one symptom of stress. The issue is evident, and has been further brought to light following the death of Natasha Diddee, a food blogger and author who lost her stomach to stress and made it her life’s mission to create awareness around the subject.

According to the 2023 India Wellness Index, 77% Indians regularly suffer from at least one symptom of stress.
According to the 2023 India Wellness Index, 77% Indians regularly suffer from at least one symptom of stress.

“Gastrointestinal issues account for 60-75% of gut symptoms including gastritis and irritable bowel syndrome, often caused due to stress. Patients may undergo ultrasounds, colonoscopies and other tests that show everything as normal, yet their condition doesn’t improve, indicating an underlying issue,” explains Dr Saroj Dubey, Senior Consultant Gastroenterologist, Kailash Hospital, Noida.

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But what is the correlation between stress and gut health?

According to Dr Vikrant Panwar DNB-General Medicine, several studies have explored the relationship between stress and gut health through the concept of the gut-brain axis, which is the physical and chemical connections that happen between the gut and the brain. “Conditions categorised as functional disorders such as functional dyspepsia, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diarrhoea and constipation exhibit a direct correlation with stress levels,” he says.

What are some early signs?

Common symptoms include irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcers, diarrhoea, hormonal disturbances, disrupted sleep patterns, loose stools, abdominal pain, increased frequency of bowel movements. “Try to disassociate them from any organic causes to understand if these signs show up particularly when you are stressed,” shares Dr Bir Singh Sehrawat, Director and HOD-Gastroenterology, Marengo Asia Hospitals, Faridabad.

So what’s the way out?

The best way to deal with stress-induced gut ailments is by addressing the root cause, which is stress, through meditation, exercises like Pranayama, focussing on early detection and managing inflammation. “It is key to avoid stress-related behaviours such as overeating, alcohol consumption and tobacco smoking, and maintain a gut-friendly diet by avoiding fried, spicy and caffeinated foods,” Dr Sehrawat tells us.

Furthermore, he suggests that one must focus on enhancing their physical health through activities like yoga and walking, incorporating antioxidant-rich foods like fruits, juices, coconuts, salads and green vegetables, and staying hydrated with plenty of fluids to achieve a healthy gut microbiota balance.

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