Stress and the digestive system

Ever had a stressful day and felt like you’ve only wanted to eat bad foods? There is a reason for this and it’s actually to do with your nervous system producing too much of one particular stress hormone- cortisol.

Cortisol is the bodies’ reaction to stressful stimuli, which can be anything from exercise to having a very stressful job which you feel trapped in. The result will be an imbalance in your endocrine system- which means a big imblance in your daily life.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the “fight or flight” response? The bodies basic response to a perceived ‘danger’ or traumatic event, in this event two hormones are released, Adrenaline and Cortisol. These are the hormones that govern how your body behaves in such an event. They are also heavy somatic repressors, this means that while you are in such a state, the body will redirect all of its ‘resources’ to the primary goal, which could in this case be escaping a lion. While these hormones are present in the blood, you will not sleep, need food or drink and in extreme cases most of your other senses are put on hold. In short, Cortisol is a very destructive (but necessary) hormone and if not regulated properly it will continue to affect the bodies hormonal system.

Why is this important if you have a stressful job?

As explained above, if you are working long stressful hours- then your appetite will be significantly repressed. Meaning your body will crave junk food, this will in turn have a negative effect on your sleep patterns- as well as the hormones still in your body. Hydration will be affected which will in turn have an increased on your energy and sleep levels.

What’s the solution?

Obvioulsy the solution isn’t to walk away from your job tomorrow, as much as we would like to. If you have identified yourself through what you’ve read above- either feling constatnly lethargic or always tending to eat junk food, then I would recommend seeking further help from a nutrionist to help with this matter.

A quick fix that you can do at home is to make sure there is time for you, see my previous post on the “Pirate Map” which is about seeting yourself habits to ensure that you get a good balance of work and play. Also ensure you have regular intakes of water throughout the day and make an attempt at Nutritious food- perhaps have a meal prep day on the weekend which sets you up for the following week?

In regards to sleep, there is a great app called “Headspace” which may help you to regulate your stress levels a little bit before sleep, if you are looking at screens right up until the time you close your eyes then that will also have a negative effect on your sleep. Even in the busiest of lives there is always time for the things that are important.

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