Easy Ways to Live Well: Steph McGovern discusses bloating
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Stomach bloating typically describes what happens when too much gas fills up the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. With no exit for expulsion, the tummy tends to stretch and swell. This may result in painful cramps that last for hours, diminishing a person’s overall quality of life. A new study has found how a “feel-good hormone” could help to diminish this cycle and reduce painful symptoms.
New research published in The Journal of Physiology found that oxytocin, known as the love hormone, plays an important role in stress’ disruption of digestion including bloating, discomfort, nausea, and diarrhoea.
Stress is known to disrupt gastrointestinal functions and causes a delay in how quickly food leaves the stomach.
This delay in gastric emptying causes bloating, discomfort, and nausea and further perpetuates colon transit, which causes diarrhoea.
Researchers found that oxytocin, an anti-stress hormone, is released from the hypothalamus in the brain which acts to counteract the effects of stress.
For a long time, the actions of oxytocin were believed to occur due to its release into the blood with only minor effects on the nerves within the brain that regulate gastrointestinal functions.
This suggests that, when facing a stressor, gastrointestinal issues can be reduced by the release of oxytocin.
Moreover, when the oxytocin pathway was blocked, there was a delay in gastric emptying.
This supports the notion that stress can cause gastrointestinal issues.
The data indicates that oxytocin directly influences the neural pathways involved in the stress response.
The ability to respond appropriately to stress is important for normal physiology functions, the study found.
Inappropriate responses to stress, or the inability to adapt to stress, triggers and worsens the symptoms of many gastrointestinal disorders including delayed gastric emptying, accelerated colon transit and of course stomach bloating.
Previous studies have shown that the nerves and neurocircuits that regulate the function of gastric muscle and emptying respond to stress by changing their activity and responses.
For more effective treatments of disordered gastric responses to stress, scientists state it’s important to first understand how stress normally affects the functions of the stomach.
The study provided new information about the role that oxytocin plays in controlling these nerves and circuits during stress and may identify new targets for drug development.
How to get more oxytocin to help reduce symptoms
- Listening to music
- Spending more time with friends
- Spending time with animals
- Falling in love.
Oxytocin research isn’t conclusive, and there’s still plenty for experts to discover about this hormone, including its benefits and whether there’s such a thing as too much of it.
R Alberto Travagli added: “Women are more vulnerable to stress and stress-related pathologies, such as anxiety and depression, and report a higher prevalence in gastrointestinal disorders.
“We are now finalising a series of studies that investigate the role and the mechanisms through which oxytocin modulates gastric functions in stressed females.
“This will help to develop targeted therapies to provide relief for women with gastrointestinal disorders.”
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