This title may sound very odd at first. What does how you eat have to do with how you think and feel? Well, there may be more to things than you think. First of all, ever felt an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach or loss of appetite during a stressful situation? As science is finding out, there is more of a connection between your mind and your gut than you may think.
The Gut-Brain Axis
The link between these two areas isn’t an organ but in the microbiome. The microbiome is the millions of organisms that call the human body home. These are all over the body but tend to concentrate in certain areas, like the skin, mouth, and gut. The gut microbiome is the main subject of interest in this conversation. In the beginning, most people assumed the gut microbiome was primarily associated with digestion. However, science later discovered that gut bacteria have been directly communicating with the brain, and vice versa.
How does this play out? It’s not entirely clear yet, but some theories include the brain signaling to the rest of the body about food. For example, salivation tends to increase when presented with food. This link between the gut and brain, called the gut-brain axis, may be an extension of that concept.
However, it also may be affected by stress. The mental hardship of stressful situations may be relayed back to the gut bacteria, causing physical issues in this area as well. This is one of the primary theories as to why there is such a correlation between conditions like irritable bowel syndrome and heavy stress.
Handling Your Stress
Attacking stress is rarely a one-move process. You’re going to want to put several things into action at once. Some good places to start are working to establish a regular sleep schedule and getting regular exercise. Both of these are associated with improved mental health and are overall good health practices.
If things get out of hand, or you just want professional guidance, there are many mental health services that can help you handle your stress. Or, for veterans, you may want to seek out a veteran’s medical center in California. These professionals can help you with your stress in direct and indirect ways. Directly, they may be able to teach you exercises to help you work through stressful situations. Indirectly, they can provide a place for you to talk freely about what you are struggling with. One major issue people with stress, anxiety, or even more severe conditions like PTSD struggle with is not wanting to “burden” those around them with their issues.