Stress affects many things in our life such as mood and emotional resilience. Stress can also affect our digestion. Most of us recognize the feeling of having an upset stomach when we are anxious, and stress has even been linked to more serious gastrointestinal conditions such as peptic ulcers.
Most of us are feeling extra stress lately, and this may contribute to digestive health issues. Luckily, we can aid a stressed digestive system with foods, water, and exercise! Registered dietitian Heather Feldmann has 5 recommendations for foods you can eat, and habits to adopt to fight nausea, changes in bowel movement frequency and motility, and stomach aches and pains.
1. Consider fibre
- Fibre can aid in both constipation and diarrhea. Be sure to consult with your dietitian about the type and amount of fibre to add to your diet
- Especially in cases of constipation, consider adding more fibre to your diet
- Ground flaxseed is a good source of fibre. To consume, you can just mix a spoonful of ground flaxseed into a glass of water, or you can add it to oatmeal or smoothies
- These griddle cakes are a tasty recipe that uses flaxseed!
- Flaxseed is especially useful for treating constipation because it contains both soluble and insoluble fibre. Soluble fibre lubricates the bowels for motility, and insoluble fibre adds bulk to stools. Ask your dietitian if increasing either type of fibre could help you
- Lentils and avocados are great sources of soluble fibre
- Try lentil stew, beet and lentil patties, golden lentil soup, or avocado salad!
- A soluble fibre supplement can also help add bulk to stools and relieve diarrhea
2. Hydrate and exercise
- If you are constipated, ensure you are drinking enough water. Dehydration removes water from the digestive tract which leads to hard stools that are not easily passed
- You may be moving less than usual, which also slows your digestive tract. Try to get outside and move daily, to get your digestive tract moving too!
3. Reduce stress
- Stress plays a large role in overall digestion! Consider taking part in stress reducing activities like mindfulness, meditation, or exercise. Take a look at the resources below:
- Heather Feldmann’s meditation and yoga series
- Yoga specifically for digestion
- Britney Lentz’s 3 tips for mindful meals
4. Try ginger
- Ginger is useful for treating nausea
- You can brew ginger tea by slicing up some ginger or using tea bags and adding boiling water. Ginger can also be incorporated into foods in salad dressings and stir fries
- Ginger is a prokinetic, which means it helps with gastrointestinal motility
5. Sip peppermint
- Peppermint soothes and relaxes the smooth muscle lining in the digestive tract, which makes this herb helpful in treating stomach aches
- Peppermint tea is a great way to consume peppermint. Allow the tea bag to soak for 10-15 minutes, then squeeze the bag to get as much peppermint as you can!
- Talk to your dietitian about using peppermint supplements, like enteric coated peppermint oil
- If you suffer from heartburn, peppermint tea can make reflux worse. Use caution with peppermint if you suffer from reflux!
If you have more questions about digestive health, contact us to book an appointment with one of our registered dietitians.