Stress Make You Fat?
By Pamela Adams D.C.
heard that stress can kill you - that it is
a risk factor for high blood pressure, heart
attacks and strokes. But is it also a risk factor
for obesity? Is fast food really to blame for
making Americans the fattest people in the world?
Or could stress also play a role?
have charted the precise physiological mechanisms
that convert a stressful event happening outside
us into a stressful result inside us. Muscles
contract to protect us from injury. Blood pressure
rises, and heart rate and respiration quicken
to provide the energy we need to fight or flee.
Digestion shuts down. Blood clots more quickly
to slow blood loss from injury. The liver releases
energy in the form of glycogen, raising blood
these processes are designed to cope with acute
stress. Unfortunately, when these protective
mechanisms are activated over and over again
over many years, they cause great physical harm.
contracted muscles induce chronic pain. The
immune system's impaired ability to turn off
inflammation leads to arthritis and other difficult-to-treat
conditions such as fibromyalgia. Chronic high
blood pressure and increased clotting cause
heart attacks and strokes.
digestion results in faulty absorption of vital
nutrition, as well as gastritis and irritable
bowel syndrome. Rapid shallow breathing removes
too much carbon dioxide from the blood, which
then loses its proper acidity, causing heart
palpitations, faintness and panic attacks.
increased blood sugar promotes Type II Diabetes.
The release of cortisol from the adrenal glands
shuts down the immune system, slowing wound
healing and lowering the body's ability to fight
off colds, flu and other more serious diseases.
but not least, cortisol (we used to call it
adrenalin, remember?) fosters deposits of fat,
particularly around the abdomen. Have you been
dieting, or just eating right and exercising
regularly, but can't lose any weight? The stress/cortisol
connection may be the reason.
another reason why stress can make us fat. High
starch foods, like pasta, potatoes, and bread,
stimulate the production of seratonin, that
wonderful hormone responsible for a happy, relaxed
mood. Dairy products contain L-tryptophan, an
amino acid that converts to seratonin. It's
no wonder we crave those foods. They actually
help us feel less anxious. But too much starch
also adds more pounds.
I noted above, the stress response shuts down
digestion. Conversely, digestion shuts down
the stress response. Just the act of eating
don't stress over your weight. It's normal to
eat more and put on weight when you're going
through stressful times.
instead, on finding ways to relieve the stress.
Evaluate your lifestyle and see what needs to
change. Then turn your attention to what and
how much you eat, and how much your exercise.
Working with your body instead of against it
is the key to enjoying lifelong health.
Adams D.C., holistic health coach, is author
of "Dr. Adams' Painless Guide to Computing;
How to Use Your Computer Without Hurting Yourself".