Can Gastritis Be Caused by Stress or Anxiety?
Will reducing anxiety fix my gastritis? How commonly is gastritis caused by stress or anxiety? Does fasting cure stomach issues?
Are Digestive Issues The Bane of Your Existence?
I have suffered with gastric problems for many years and have tried numerous things to ease the pain, even if not cure the problem. Nothing works for very long. In fact, some things exacerbated the problem or caused others. This time I am determined to get to the bottom of it, so have done a lot of research, some of which I will share with you here.
What Makes Up The Digestive System
The digestive system is made up of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and small and large intestines, known as the gastro-intestinal tract. When digestion is hampered by blockage, heartburn, or whatever, there are copious over-the-counter medications such as antacids, or prescription such as Nexium (say that word and I start to twitch – more on that later). A hint – a high percentage of these medications have side effects and can cause potential long term health issues.
An excess of gas, bloating, belching, and heart burn are, unfortunately, a run of the mill daily thing for sufferers like me. Eating fatty foods and drinking carbonated beverages are said to be a simple cause. Sorry, but that one does not wash with me. I do neither! On the other hand I agree that some things such as an imbalance in the microbiome, stress, or slow digestion when food isn’t moving through the GI tract efficiently, can also be culprits.
Heartburn / Acid Reflux / GERD / IBS
Heartburn, otherwise known as acid reflux, is my pain of choice (NOT). This occurs when stomach acid flows back into the esophagus. It is painful burning around the breast bone area that can move up to the throat. When it occurs for a lasting period of time it graduates to being called GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Sometimes we are blessed with other accompanying symptoms such as constipation, abdominal pain and cramps and congratulations, this graduates us to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Yay us! This can be triggered by food sensitivities, allergies, stress, (let me stress that…stress), lifestyle, diet, and medications.
Problems within our GI tract can progress and signal more serious health issues including cancer, bowel obstruction, or critical gastrointestinal health issues.
Red Food Dye and Gastrointestinal Problems
Now ponder this: Recent research shows that long term consumption of Allura Red (AR), a commonly used synthetic color additive, could trigger inflammatory bowel diseases and GI disease as well as colitis. Also known as Red Dye 40, this is one
of the synthetic (always beware of that word) color additives approved by the FDA (are you surprised?) for use in our food.
In a recent study, scientists discovered that recurrent consumption of this colorant can cause intestinal inflammation. But that is apparently of no consequence as it allows food manufacturers to make foods brighter and prettier in order to sell more to the consumers. The research also suggests that Red Dye 40 affects certain allergies, immune disorders, and behavioural problems in children such as ADHD. This villain is present in cereals, dairy products, pudding, candy, many condiments, chewing gums, soda, energy drinks, and confections.
Bad, Bad Medicine
OK so to prepare you for my tangent, here is a list of medications to treat gastrointestinal discomfort. First there are good ole antacids such as Rolaids, Tums, Maalox, and Alka-Seltzer. Very temporary relief for mild and occasional heartburn only. Then there are H2 blockers, which decrease acid production in your stomach, such as Pepcid, Zantac, and Tagamet.
Just lovely, but how do we digest our food with no stomach acid?!
And my very favorites include proton pump inhibitors such as Nexium, Prevacid, Prilosec, and AcipHex, among others.
OK well, I used Nexium for eight years and, yes, it kept the pain at bay, but meanwhile my hair fell out, my joints ached, and more. When I asked my doctor when I could stop taking it, and this was repeated verbatim by a second opinion, “Well you can never stop taking it unless you are prepared to get esophagus cancer.”
Bottom line: live with it …next patient, please!
Next bottom line: Antacid et al side effects, as stated by the Cleveland Clinic, could include constipation, diarrhea, gas, headache, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and abdominal pain. Serious side effects may include neurotoxicity, iron deficiency, weakened bones, and excess blood calcium.
OK then, time for non-medical intervention here.
Firstly, preventing digestive issues includes lifestyle changes. Take note of what foods cause discomfort. Stay hydrated with pure water. Avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Yes, they reduce pain and fever but the down side is they often disrupt the gastrointestinal system.
Help is on the way. There are herbal options for digestive problems which are cheaper, cleaner, and
have little or no side effects.
1. Dill – This herb has been utilized since ancient times to treat digestive problems and colic. Dill’s essential oil relieves intestinal spasms and gas and aids digestion. It also inhibits the growth of bacteria.
2. Fennel – one of the world’s oldest medicinal herbs, it is used to treat abdominal pains, arthritis, colic, constipation, diarrhea, flatulence, gastritis, irritable colon, and stomach ache. In the case of the gastrointestinal tract fennel seed extract is used for colonic spasms, reduction of intestinal gas, protection against ulcers and damage to the GI tract. Fennel teas, made with dried stems and leaves, are considered medicinal, as are the essential oils.
3. Cumin – originating in Asia and Eastern Mediterranean, cumin has been recognized as a medicine. Cumin is used to treat digestive disorders, dyspepsia, flatulence, colic, and bloating. It is reported to have significant pharmacological effects. Extracts of cumin aid important digestive enzymes in breaking down foods in the GI tract.
Sherra Vorley of The Epoch Times has noted this concoction for better digestion:
- 1 tsp. Fennel seed
- 1 tsp. Dill seed
- 1 tsp. Cumin seed
- 1 quart filtered water.
Bring to a rolling boil. Simmer for 5-10 minutes. Cover and cool. Strain. To flavor, add 1 tbsp. honey, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. Drink warm, first thing in the morning.
Probiotics for Gut Issues
Last but not least, probiotics are excellent for gut health. Dietician Andy deSantis states that about 70% of your immune system is located in your gut, where gut microbiota work to boost your immunity, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the barrier in your intestines that protects you from harmful bacteria. To reduce inflammation and make gut bacteria thrive, he recommends regular exercise and eating foods with prebiotic fiber. In addition probiotics contain live micro-organisms that restore a healthy balance to your microbiome.
Supplements such as omega-3 and enzymes, when partnered up with probiotics help to make your digestive system work like a well oiled machine. I know this from experience as that has been my successful alternative to Nexium for several years.
Can Gastritis Be Caused by Stress or Anxiety?
Yes, most gut and digestive problems like gastritis are caused by stress and anxiety much more commonly than many know. Chronic stress and anxiety are huge factors in these and nearly any other health issue you can think of.
Please read this article from the American Institute of Stress: Stress Is a Leading Cause of Premature Deaths
How Does Fasting Cure Stomach Issues?
Fasting for an extended period of time can quickly fix digestive trouble, balance your microbiome, and generally heal your gut.
Abstaining from food for as little as a day or two can help you overcome a variety of health issues, such as inflammatory conditions and diseases, poor metabolism, and more.
Fasting activates a process called autophagy, which is essentially a “cleaning house” of your cells, resulting in many health benefits, such as restoring healthy skin, reducing stress on your immune system, weight loss, and eliminating harmful pathogens that cause sickness and disease.
Read our complete article on intermittent fasting and autophagy for more of its health benefits and how it works.
Gastritis can be caused by stress and anxiety, so if you suffer from anxiety, or are a chronic worrier, consider this before taking prescription drugs that will just cause more harm than good. Finding ways to manage or eliminate stress from your life will likely help significantly with your gastric troubles, but reduce your likelihood of developing many other health problems, as well.
Consider taking probiotics (click the photo above to get the best ones from the Brighteon Store), using coconut oil, and the other things mentioned above, and try to stay away from processed foods, particularly ones containing artificial coloring, especially red dye 40!