How To Use Emotions to Increase Your Gut Health

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Gut health and mental health are more closely related than most people realize. On the one hand, stress and emotional traumas can affect your gut’s ability to function smoothly. On the other hand, a healthy digestive system can lead to an improved mood and overall sense of wellbeing. Finding ways to manage your emotional health can help you feel better physically, too.

In this post, you’ll learn: 

  • Why gut health matters
  • How emotions like stress and trauma affect your gut health
  • Ways to improve your gut health

Let’s get started! 

Why Does Your Gut Health Matter? 

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A healthy gastrointestinal system is directly tied to your overall health and wellbeing. Your gut is not only responsible for digesting the food you eat; it affects your immune system, your heart health, and your brain function. 

Your gut contains trillions of microorganisms that make up your microbiome. These include bacteria, fungi, and other microbes which play an important role in keeping you healthy. They help you digest your food, produce essential vitamins, and regulate your immune system. 

If you have an imbalance of healthy and unhealthy microbes in your microbiome, there’s a higher chance that you will struggle with weight gain, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol. Poor gut health can lead to obesity, chronic pain, and mental health problems, in addition to digestion issues. 

A healthy gut contains a good balance of bacteria in your gastrointestinal tract. If you have a healthy gut, you’re likely to be healthier in other aspects of your life. Your mood may be better, you may sleep better, and your immune system, brain, and heart may function more effectively.

Related: What is a Microbiome and How Does It Affect Gut Health?

How Do Your Emotions Affect Your Gut Health? 

Your gut is highly sensitive to emotional input, whether you’re currently dealing with stress or have experienced traumatic events in the past. The effect of constant emotional stress can have serious and lasting effects on your digestive system’s ability to function.


Your digestive system is closely tied to your nervous system through a whole network of neural pathways. This means that, when you experience stress, you can also experience a reaction in your gut. This can cause stomach aches, diarrhea, and other physical manifestations. 

In high-stress situations, the body reduces its focus on the digestive system, lowering the amount of stomach acid it’s producing. This can lead to a range of gut issues. Some people, known as “gut responders,” are especially sensitive to the effects of stress on their gastrointestinal system. 


Emotional traumas can have a lasting impact on your gut health, especially those that happen during childhood. When you’re young and your body is developing, stress responses become programmed into your system. If you’re constantly under stress, your body becomes hard-wired for stress. As more neural pathways are created to respond to stressful situations, it takes less stress to trigger a reaction. 

People who have experienced an adverse childhood experience (ACE) are up to 70% more likely to have an autoimmune disease, like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, which impact gut health. Those who have experienced just two or more ACEs face an up to 80% higher risk of dealing with conditions like irritable bowel disease or ulcerative colitis.

3 Ways to Improve Your Gut Health

Reduce Stress

If you’re a sensitive “gut responder,” reducing stress is a great way to improve your gut health. Incorporating stress-reducing activities into your regular schedule has been shown to improve your health. 

There are many healthy ways to reduce your stress levels. It’s a matter of finding the ways that work best for you. Maybe it’s getting outside, taking a walk or a hike, going out with your friends or family, playing with a pet, or getting some form of regular exercise, whether you join a yoga class or join a recreational sports team. 

Change Your Diet

Your diet directly influences your gut health. Eating foods that are highly processed, high in sugar, or high in fat will contribute to inflammation and disease. Choosing healthy foods that are plant-based, high in fiber, and contain lean protein will improve your microbiome and general gut health. 

Learn to Cope With Emotions

Learning to deal with your emotions in healthy ways can also improve both your gut health and overall wellbeing. Finding ways to process and work through your current emotional stressors and previous traumas is essential to prevent your feelings from building up and negatively impacting your current health. 

There are lots of ways you can do this. You can practice meditation, use journaling to work through your emotions or work with a therapist. 

Your gut health influences your overall health in many ways. A healthy microbiome will improve your brain function, heart health, and immune system’s ability to deal with threats. Managing your emotions and reducing stress has been shown to improve the efficacy of your digestive system and microbiome, allowing you to live a healthier and happier life.

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