Living with the COVID-19 crisis means you have to follow your gut

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From the mental as well as the physical, living with the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on all aspects of our lives. We are slowly emerging from its toxic shadow, but we continue – and rightly so – to be wary of what this virus has brought into our existence.Granted, many cautiously learn to live with the unknown, but, like an unwanted guest, this virus is still there, hovering just within range, and reminding us of its presence through grief, confusion, anxiety, and trouble. mental health. How isolation has caused such damage to even the most sane people.

Even our digestions have taken a direct hit, with people struggling with weight gain or body image issues. According to the University of Michigan Health Division, your “gastrointestinal system may be experiencing COVID-19 stress.”

And yet, the pace continues. A new IPSOS poll conducted on behalf of Sun Life Financial found that the majority (56%) of Canadians polled say the pandemic has had negative effects on their mental health. A minority say there has been no impact, while a very small group (5%) say their mental state has been positively affected, which could be seen as a ray of hope for one. small proportion of Canadians.

As for those most affected by this pandemic, it turns out that women (62%) are more likely than men (49%) to say that their mental health has been affected, as are those aged 35 to 54. and from 18 to 34 years old. Canadians aged 55 and over. In fact, those under 55 are more likely to say that the impact has been the greatest.

Regionally, outside of the country, Ontarians appear to have experienced the most profound negative effects on their mental health.

Our biggest concerns? Isolation continues to lead the charge, followed by concern for those close to him, monetary fears (unemployment is enormous) and his health. Surprisingly, the survey found that the trend toward physical alienation has prompted many Canadians to take a closer look at their lives – and to enjoy it more. “When presented with a list of 11 possibilities and asked to choose up to three items, two-thirds of Canadians say they have a new appreciation for their friends and family, while four in 10 like. more their physical health and freedom, ”the survey noted.

In terms of health, our gut tells us that there is a huge problem: “Stress and anxiety can trigger more frequent or stronger contractions in the gastrointestinal tract which some may perceive as uncomfortable or even painful. Says gastroenterologist William Chey, professor of gastroenterology and nutritional sciences at Michigan Medicine (uofmhealth.org). Add to that the overwhelming desire to be comforted – through food, especially processed foods high in sugar and fat – and you have a recipe for trouble.

“When things are uncertain or when we feel more emotional or stressed, we want to be comforted,” explains Megan Riehl, a clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of patients with gastrointestinal problems. “For many of us, certain foods are comforting.”

Nationwide Children’s Hospital medical researchers recently published their research in PLoS One and the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition to confirm the link between exposure to stress and inflammation of the colon. “We are studying the effect of stress exposure on intestinal inflammation and the mechanism of its aggravation,” says Ross Maltz, MD, clinician scientist and gastroenterologist at Nationwide Children’s. “Part of the microbiome is made up of bacteria that line the digestive tract. Bacteria break down food and produce many metabolites, which have the ability to communicate with the intestines and the immune system, and we believe that disruption of this mechanism contributes to the inflammation seen in inflammatory bowel disease. ”

According to research from Orthomolecular Nutrition (aor.ca), as we slowly exit the COVID-19 situation, we must consider the role that stress has played in our lives: “Stress can save lives, but when it becomes chronic, it has all kinds of negative impacts on both our physical and mental health, (and) the cause and effect of stress on our body can have an impact on digestion and the body’s ability to absorb food properly as well as essential nutrients. say company officials.

In order to combat stress and improve our digestion, the experts at Advanced Orthomolecular Research recommend that you practice stress management techniques like getting regular exercise, getting enough sleep, and socializing (safely!), As well as supporting your digestive health by drinking less alcoholic beverages, reducing your sugar intake, eliminating gluten, and increasing health-promoting foods such as those high in probiotics, fiber and enzymes.

Riehl and Chey also recommend eating a healthy diet and staying as close to the Mediterranean diet as possible. Doctors suggest creating a calendar for meals and snacks, staying social with online gatherings and family and friends, and “staying focused on the present, such as body scanning to release physical tension in areas targets like shoulders, hands and feet. ”

“Right now, as we all experience this global stressor, it is so important that we are kind to ourselves and to others,” says Riehl.

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