How to treat IBS

Accidental IBS: Linking digestion and stress

Our busy lifestyles of urgent deadlines, unmanageable commitments to family and friends and unhealthy diets are making modern society accidentally anxious. This anxiety is wreaking havoc on our digestion.

Without realising it, the way we live is causing biochemical changes in our bodies, including the overproduction of adrenaline. 

Adrenaline and stress

When you're stressed out, your body produces adrenaline to help you prepare fight or run from the threat. This response comes from your nervous system, and evolved to help us outrun sabre tooth tigers and battle our neighbours for food and shelter. In modern life though, we don't (often) need to fight or run when we're stressed, so adrenaline pulses through out body, leaving us wired.

Adrenaline and your body

Everyone knows the feeling of adrenaline pulsing through your body; whether you've tried bungy jumping or you love ordering a venti coffee with 5 shots of coffee.

Adrenaline makes you wired; your blood pressure rises, your muscles fill with more blood, and the blood flow to your intestines slows.

Did you know? Adrenaline slows the blood supply to your digestive organs.

Sluggish digestion from stress

Breaking down food is hard work, and it takes energy and power to do it. With excessive adrenaline pulsing through your body, your poor digestive system is expected to work without a good blood supply. Peristalsis, the fancy word for the movements and contractions of the intestines to help move food along, is also slowed by adrenaline. Your digestion becomes sluggish, and some harder-to-digest foods can sit in your digestive tract for too long, emitting gas causing bloating and stomach pain.


How to treat IBS

Stomach pain and irritable bowels can be caused by too much adrenaline pulsing through your veins thanks to stress rather than just the foods you eat.

So before you scrap spicy food from your diet, there are a few things you can try to lower your stress levels, decrease the over-activation of your sympathetic nervous system, and decrease the adrenaline in your body:

  • Try 5 long exhales 3 times a day- Deep breathing is proven to activate your 'Rest & Digest' system instead of your 'Fight or Flight' system.
  • Try avoiding stimulants like coffee around meal times
  • Try to avoid stressful situations (eg. a meeting with a difficult client) when your digestive system needs extra help like after lunch.
  • Gentle exercise can help with digestion, so try a walk to clear your mind, and help your process your food after lunch.
  • If you're eating at your desk, try deep breaths between bites, and avoid reading work or stressful emails during your break.

How to manage stress

If you need help finding effective but realistic ways to combat stress in your life, I'd love to help you.


Have a happy day! 

-Caitlin xo