Food intolerance or stress?

Digestive symptoms such as bloating, indigestion, reflux and constipation or diarrhoea are often related to food intolerances or problems with digestive function such as  lack of acids and enzymes or motility issues affecting the movement of food through the gut.

Identifying food intolerances can be really helpful in alleviating digestive symptoms and discomfort along with a whole host of other symptoms such as headaches, skin issues, immune issues and inflammation.

To identify food intolerances I either use pathology testing which involves a blood test measuring your immune response to 96 commonly eaten foods and provides comprehensive information in one go or the other option is a process of monitored elimination and reintroduction of suspect foods over a period of time.

Here is a link to some information about food intolerances

But whilst food intolerances are common, there is another factor which  must be considered whenever you're having digestive symptoms and that is- stress!

When you are stressed you simply cannot digest!

Your body is programmed when stressed to switch off digestive processes and divert blood and energy to your limbs to help you escape the threat (or the source of the stress). This is a primal reflex and your brain and body don't differentiate between a real threat from which you need to run to escape and daily lower level stress like feeling overwhelmed because you're multitasking and thinking about everything that you want to get done by the end of the afternoon!

Have you ever noticed that when you're on holidays and relaxed, your tolerance for foods which normally aggravate you can sometimes be different?
Where there is a true intolerance to a particular food it is likely to still cause symptoms regardless of where you are or what you're doing, but for some people, it's actually stress which is affecting digestion and making it harder to digest particular foods.

I often hear from clients who are preparing to go on holiday and are worried about how they will cope with the wheat or cheese or other food which normally seems to upset their digestion only to hear upon their return that their symptoms disappeared whilst they were away despite consuming those foods and then returned again as soon as they got back and returned to work and normal routines!

Stress plays a huge role in so many symptoms and your ability to cope with anything whether its particular foods or resistance to viruses etc is strongly influenced by your stress levels.

Even the medical profession is now acknowledging stress as a common contributing factor in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

So in conclusion, identifying problematic foods and supporting gut function and healing is very effective in improving digestive health leading to better overall health BUT we just can't overlook stress management as a key component when approaching anything holistically..

Try to avoid eating when stressed, on the run or multitasking and a few cycles of 6:2 Calm Breathing before eating can help you  to de-stress and prepare your body for the process of digestion. You can find an explanation of this simple breathing technique here:

Regardless of whether you're having digestive symptoms, we can all benefit from a few cycles of this simple breathing technique to help your nervous system switch from sympathetic dominance or action/ fight or flight and into parasympathetic which allows you to rest and digest!


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