Stress is an impact on digestive system

Complexity of the problem

Consequences of stress are unpredictable: an immediate effect or a delayed reaction of the body, malfunction of some organs and systems. Scientists are increasingly talking about the impact of anxiety, emotional instability, depression on the digestive organs. The functioning of the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) requires calmness and balance. Otherwise, stress may lead to discomfort, diseases of the intestines, stomach, and adjacent organs.

“Stress can affect every part of the digestive system,” says Kenneth Koch, professor of medicine in gastroenterology at Wake Forest University (North Carolina, USA). He is convinced that prolonged stress, turning into a chronic condition, leads to negative manifestations from the gastrointestinal tract:

  •  spasms of the esophagus;
  •  increased acidity;
  •  nausea;
  •  constipation or diarrhea.

In addition to systemic treatment and the use of pharmaceuticals, the medical world points to the need for a balanced diet rich in vitamins and explores the possibility of vitamin supplements as an alternative way to solve the problem. Even Hippocrates argued: "Our food should be our medicine, and our medicine should be our food."

Experts identify vitamins that are especially important for healthy digestion and suggest making the consumption of foods that contain them a good habit.

B vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins, which include B vitamins, cannot be stored in the body (unlike fat-soluble vitamins that accumulate in adipose tissue). They are excreted with urine and sweat. To maintain a balance, the intake of these vitamins with food should be regular.

Some additional details:

  •  Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

Functions:

  •  participates in carbohydrate metabolism;
  •  maintains the tone of the muscles of the gastrointestinal tract;
  •  participates in the process of formation of erythrocytes;
  •  promotes the conduction of nerve impulses;
  •  regulates appetite.

It is contained (in the largest quantities) in the following foods:

  •  pine nuts;
  •  eggs;
  •  brown rice, oatmeal, buckwheat;
  •  pork.

• Vitamin B3 (niacin)

It is important for many functions of the gastrointestinal tract:

  •  breakdown of carbohydrates, fats, and alcohol;
  •  regulation of gastric juice production;
  •  prevention of pellagra, a nutritional disorder associated with abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation or diarrhea.

Vitamin B3 is found in the following foods:

  •  beef liver, chicken meat;
  •  peanut (peanut), sunflower seeds, legumes;
  •  potatoes, carrots, apples.

• Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

This vitamin is essential for the following functions:

  •  protein breakdown;
  •  participation in amino acid metabolism;
  •  activation of digestive enzymes.

Vitamin B6 is found in:

  •  pine and other nuts;
  •  turkey meat, chicken;
  •  sea fish;
  •  broccoli, asparagus;
  •  bran, barley groats.

• Vitamin B7 (biotin)

It performs the following functions:

  •  exchange of proteins, carbohydrates, and fatty acids.

This vitamin is contained in the following foods:

  •  beef meat, liver, kidneys;
  •  cheese;
  •  mushrooms, greens, cauliflower.

• Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

It is the only one of the B vitamins that accumulates in the liver. Cobalamin is needed for:

  •  DNA synthesis;
  •  formation of erythrocytes;
  •  breakdown of carbohydrates.

Vitamin B12 deficiency manifests itself in reduced stomach acidity, Crohn's disease (chronic inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract), as a result of prolonged abstinence from eating food of animal origin. According to the NIH (National Institutes of Health, USA), a lack of B12 can cause anemia, memory impairment, and fatigue.

Sources of vitamin B12 are as follows:

  •  red meat, liver;
  •  fish;
  •  milk, eggs.

Most people get enough B vitamins from food, but in a stressful situation, when the gastrointestinal tract is exposed to negative influences, the use of vitamin supplements may be justified. It will not be superfluous to remind you of the need to consult a doctor and to exercise self-control.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

Ascorbic acid:

  •  promotes digestion;
  •  accelerates the regeneration of the gastric mucosa;
  •  plays an important role in maintaining healthy teeth and gums;
  •  promotes the absorption of iron, the deficiency of which leads to diseases of the oral cavity, pharynx and esophagus.

Like most B vitamins, vitamin C is not stored in the body and requires a constant intake from food.

The richest in vitamin C are the following foods:

  •  sauerkraut;
  •  tropical fruits (kiwi, mango, pineapple);
  •  blackcurrant berries, sea buckthorn, rose hips;
  •  citrus fruits;
  •  bell pepper, broccoli, kohlrabi.

It should be born in mind that ascorbic acid decomposes when heated, under the influence of light, therefore it is better to store fruits and vegetables unpeeled in dark packaging and consume them, if possible, without subjecting them to heat treatment.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in many biochemical processes in the human body:

  •  contributes to the digestion of calcium and phosphorus;
  •  activates metabolism;
  •  increases immunity;
  •  strengthens muscle tissue;
  •  participates in the processes of hematopoiesis and the functioning of the nervous system.

In 2015, Gut, the leading international journal in the field of gastroenterology and hepatology published the results of a study that established the protective effect of vitamin D, which helps to avoid the risk of colon cancer.

As the NIH explains, to replenish the content of this vitamin in the body, you need to eat foods rich in vitamin D:

  •  sea fish, cod liver;
  •  cheese, butter;
  •  egg yolks.

In addition, vitamin D is synthesized in human skin under the influence of sunlight (daily 20-30-minute walks are enough). If your lifestyle does not allow you to get the amount of vitamin D you need from the sun and food, you can turn to supplements. But in this case, consultation with a doctor is required: both a deficiency and an excess of this vitamin can lead to negative health consequences.

Vitamin A

The main functions of vitamin A are as follows:

  •  formation of immunity;
  •  maintaining a healthy skin condition;
  •  provision of visual functions (adaptation to darkness, ability to distinguish colors);
  •  functioning of the reproductive system.

Sources of vitamin A are:

  •  red, orange and green vegetables and fruits;
  •  liver, eggs;
  •  butter, milk.

Certain diseases of the gastrointestinal tract can lead to vitamin A deficiency. According to data published in the medical weekly "World Journal of Gastroenterology" in 2015, vitamin A deficiency is common in Crohn's disease, which consequently leads to excessive accumulation of free radicals in the intestinal mucosa.

A small summary

Our body, like the world, is fragile. The effect of stress on the gastrointestinal system is not isolated. Our whole organism is in the danger zone. But the correction of the diet and balance of nutrition, lifestyle changes, and the fight against stress are in your hands. Do you need some vitamins and supplements? Give it a try!

But, of course, understanding the effects of stress on the gastrointestinal tract should, first, be aimed at eliminating stressful situations and their negative consequences.