We all know it: Before an important exam or a job interview, our stomachs rebel, we feel nauseous or we have to go to the toilet quickly. Even the phrase "that upsets my stomach" indicates that excitement and stress also make themselves felt in our digestive tract. But why is that and how does our gut actually know that we are nervous?
We can imagine that our digestive tract switches and operates relatively independently. It has its own abdominal brain, the enteric nervous system (ENS). Information such as the filling level of the stomach, but also information on the respective content, is sent to the ENS. The abdominal brain also recognizes, for example, when we have eaten spoiled food and promptly ensures that it is excreted again. Either through vomiting or diarrhea. Bad food is an internal stressor right in our digestive tract.
But our abdominal brain can also communicate with our brain. So if our brain reports tension and thus stress, for example because we are afraid of a job interview, our stomach also reacts to this stressor. The alarm is triggered via the sympathetic nervous system, which is part of the autonomic nervous system. "The sympathetic nervous system ensures that the activity of the stomach and intestines is significantly reduced," Alexandra Kranzeder, a specialist in psychosomatic medicine and psychotherapy, told "Spektrum". This process can make us nauseous. A meal can also be heavy in the stomach because it is not pushed further in the direction of the intestines in the digestive tract.
Anyone who reacts to stress in everyday life with an upset stomach can adapt their lifestyle to avoid such stomach problems. The following points can help:
- Why do many women grow hair on their chins as they age?
- Why coffee drives us to the toilet
- What is behind the annoying twitching of the eye?
- Why the stomach growls - not only when hungry
Sources: spectrum, quarks, AOK