The gut, your “second brain”: discover how your emotions affect it and why emotions influence the gut “brain”.
Have you ever noticed that when you go through a situation that affects you emotionally you feel different sensations in your belly? Have you found yourself in a “hard to swallow” situation that has caused you to feel fatigued, nauseous, poor appetite, or constipated?
These and many other reactions in the gastrointestinal tract are due to the fact that it is very sensitive to emotions, particularly when it comes to anger, anxiety, or sadness, since they can trigger symptoms in the intestine. Let’s see why and how our emotions affect the gut.
The gut, our “second brain”
The intestine is located above our navel and is considered the star organ since it performs functions that are of vital importance for health and plays a decisive role in our emotional well-being. Digestive ailments inhabit it, often caused by emotions.
It is considered the “second brain” since it can function independently and, in turn, in direct connection with the brain. This system of direct communication between the intestine and the brain explains, for example, why the anxiety generated by a test takes away our appetite. The stress, like the anxiety o la depression are other causes of a disturbed intestine.
Your first step: pay attention to how you feel when you eat
We are going to make a short stop, before getting into the emotions, in the way we eat, since as Camila Rowlands says in her book “The incredible gut-brain connection”, “What we are, what we live, are a matter of the viscera, and perhaps our elusive subconscious dwells and expresses itself in them.«.
If your meals are not pleasant to you or if you eat too fast, it may be time to rethink a change. Watch carefully what happens when you eat, because eating is a very important process and the emotions we feel while we eat can alter our digestion. Keep in mind that food is better absorbed if you are relaxed.
So try to prepare your dishes with love, since the energy you put into them is what you are going to consume. When you eat, sit down and allow yourself time to eat. Avoid eating with anxiety and in excess and enjoy your food, either alone or in company.
Remember that it is important to eat a healthy diet, practice sports and avoid these bad habits that affect our health so much, such as the use of uncontrolled antibiotics, excessive alcohol or irritating foods, etc.
For the intestine to fulfill its tasks, we have to take care of it, starting with a diet that includes fermented foods, foods with probiotics, such as yogurts and cheeses, and fibers present in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
But one proper diet and exercise it is not the only thing to consider. It is important that we practice activities that help balance emotions to promote the proper functioning of our body.
Stress and intestinal disorders
Stress can greatly affect our intestines, causing inflammation or gastrointestinal disorders. In these cases, I recommend the relaxation therapy that will help you to handle stressful situations that at the same time hinder physical functions.
There are many relaxation techniques such as yoga, the meditation and the deep breathing exercisesSo it’s just a matter of finding the one that best suits you and your needs.
Why Emotions Influence the Gut “Brain”
When we are in a situation of calm, relaxation and well-being, the intestine produces serotonin that favors metabolism, helps regulate body temperature, regulates appetite, fights stress and participates in the process of sleep and rest, among others.
On the contrary, when we feel anguish or worry, this resonates in the digestive system in the form of colic, diarrhea, abdominal pain, etc. It is the way in which our body manifests something that we cannot digest or swallow and we have to pay attention to it.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the organs handle a certain emotion, that is, there is an interrelation between emotions and physical discomforts.
Many times we find ourselves trapped in the dialogue of the mind, losing this capacity for intuition that made us pick up the signals of our body when something was not going well. We have to reconnect with these signals, pay attention to our body and for that I recommend the practice of mindfulness or mindfulness.
Possible effects of emotions on our digestive system
These are some examples of how emotions, thoughts, and our mood affect our digestive behavior:
- A stressful situation or trauma can cause vomiting or diarrhea, even cutting off digestion completely.
- A feeling of loneliness or low self-esteem can cause a lack of appetite.
- People who tend to suppress their emotions often have episodes of diarrhea or irritable bowel.
- Controllers and perfectionists can often have problems with constipation, a feeling of heaviness and, consequently, irritability. Constipated bowel can be due to several causes, although from a psycho-emotional point of view it is usually the manifestation of a deep emotional suppression such as terrible fear or unbearable control.
Complementary therapies, a valid help
At this point, it is already very clear that emotions together with stress play a very important role in our quality of life since they sometimes prevent the proper functioning of our digestive organs. As we have already seen, many intestinal complaints can be caused by fear, anxiety, excessive control, etc.
The medicines they do not always represent a solution to the problem. What can we do then? My recommendation is to resort to natural therapies or complementary medicines that will help you restore balance and achieve greater well-being.
In my personal experience, I have turned to a naturopath when I needed it and I have not only managed to solve what bothered me but I have also avoided the possible adverse effects that drugs cause as they are chemical substances.
Ultimately, it is important that you ask yourself what you do to feel good and how you feel when you eat. Living a full life should also be felt on the inside, so my advice is to free yourself as much as possible of the negative emotions that can create a blockage and trigger a digestive disorder.
For this reason, I advise you to practice activities that help you to balance yourself emotionally and relieve stress that we accumulate in our daily routine. Take some time to help your body balance by doing activities like yoga, pilates, meditation or mindfulness and enjoy them because this is the key.
Now you know how your emotions affect gut, your second brain, and why emotions influence the gut “brain”.
- The incredible gut-brain connection: discover the relationship between emotions and intestinal balance by Camila Rowlands, Editorial Sirio 2017.
- Digestive intelligence, a holistic view of your second brain by Dr. Irina Matveikova, publishing house The sphere of books 2013