Stress: What it does to your body weight

Stress: What it does to your body weight

There is no doubt today problems abound. In fact life doesn't always turn out the way we plan. Unexpected challenges can throw life completely off course. And the bad news is that there will always be stress and pressure in life. Everyone has stress to some degree, however, prolonged, extreme, or chronic stress can harm you. It can contribute to a wide range of diseases. And it can affect nearly every part of the body. It may even spiral into depression, muscle tension, increased blood pressure, burnout, or thoughts of suicide.

Frightening? Yes, and yet the list is by no means complete. Beyond all these ugly consequences there is a critical side effect of chronic stress that is most often ignored and that is increased body weight.  This negative impact (i.e uncontrollable weight gain) of excessive stress is what will be the focus of this post. Here, we will highlight how chronic stress can trigger increased body weight and belly fat? We will also reveal the symptoms of damaging stress? And how can one best cope with the stress we face, so as to find more happiness and peace?

 

Highlights

-What is stress?

-How does stress trigger an increase in body weight and belly fat?

-Tips on how best to manage stress

 

What is stress?

The term “Stress” means different things to different people. To some is just a feeling of tension or pressure. But that is just a tiny part of the picture. In a broader sense, stress is the body’s response to a demanding situation. The brain causes hormones to flood your system. These causes increase in heart rate, blood pressure, expand or constrict the capacity of the lungs, and muscle tension. Before one is fully aware of what is happening, the body is heated up and primed for action. When a stressful episode is over, the body comes off “high alert” and returns to normal. The stress passes. However, failure to understand these changes that occur in our system during this process can prevent the body from cooperating with internal measures to adapt and that is what eventually causes damaging stress.

How does stress trigger an increase in body weight and belly fat?

Imagine yourself in a possible fearful situation, you feel tense and begin breathing more deeply. During this period the “primary stress hormone” cortisol surges into your bloodstream along with the hormones epinephrine and norepinephrine. Thereby causing the liver to released stored sugar. The sugar and fat (cholesterol) levels in your blood rise, fueling you for peak performance. Your heart beats faster. More blood flows to your muscles. This makes you alert and prepared for swift action or decisions. This response is not of itself bad or harmful. In this case it might ready you to run faster than you thought you could. However, when one is constantly in such a tense state or excited state, with no relieving action, such prolonged emotional strain or chronic stress can easily damage the body. This constant, excessive stress causes cortisol levels to remain persistently elevated in the body thereby stimulating one appetite, with the end result being increased body weight or difficulty losing unwanted pounds. Among other things, cortisol can cause cholesterol to accumulate in the abdominal area rather than in the hips. Thereby resulting in an increase in belly fat, which is really toxic to one’s health. The deposited abdominal fat along with accumulated cholesterol in the arteries causes hardening of the arteries which can eventually lead to the development of cardiovascular disease, such as heart attack and stroke. Furthermore, the lymphatic system and white blood cells can also be affected, hindering the body’s ability to fight disease and react to foreign substances.

Tips on how best to manage stress

In short the best way to manage stress is by simply taking care of one self. How? you may wonder. Well is not by magic,research have shown that stress can be put in perspective by simply doing the following;

Eat proper diet: Improved diet can reduce one’s susceptibility to stress. It is essential that you cut your intake of refined white flour, saturated fats, salt, refined sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. However, diets including fruits, vegetables, protein, cereals and other grains, and dairy products can help you gain freedom from damaging stress.

 

Exercise regularly:  Moderate and consistent exercise can go a long way in strengthening the heart, improving circulation, lowering cholesterol, and reducing one's chances of a heart attack. In addition, exercise promotes a sense of well-being, likely because of the endorphins that are released during strenuous activity.

 

Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep leads to exhaustion and can decrease one ability to manage stress. 

 

Get organized: Time management can help one to cope better with stress. To get organized, prioritize your responsibilities. Next, make a schedule and stick to it.

 

Final Remark

As highlighted at the beginning of this post, no one today has a life that is completely free of stress. But thanks to the preventive measures such as a healthy diet, good night sleep and exercise that are in place to counteract such stress and restore a healthy balance. However, failure to manage stress properly can lead to dire consequences such as increased weight gain and accumulation of fat in the abdomen, an event that may be life threatening.

 (Featured article in Thrive Global)


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