In our busy, overscheduled lives, stress is an everyday issue that affects our mood, positivity, and our body too. Common triggers of stress include finances, work, and relationships, which blur our focus on weight loss and exercise.
However, your focus isn’t the only thing that’s affected. Research shows that stress affects the body in a much deeper way, which further prevents you from keeping those extra pounds off. Here’s how:
Stress triggers the body’s adrenal response, called the fight or flight response. This causes the activation of the glycogen stored in the liver and muscle and pushes the body to store more fat for energy.
One study conducted by the University of New Mexico in 2005 showed that this stress response leads to increased fat storage, loss of muscle mass and an individual’s impulse to eat more than he or she should.
Cortisol is a stress hormone that inhibits weight loss. Prolonged stress stimulates the body to release more cortisol in the bloodstream which slows metabolism and causes loss of muscle mass.
Besides, cortisol also causes the unwanted storage of fat, especially in the abdominal region. The National Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases Information Service state that other possible signs of high cortisol levels are fatigue, high blood pressure, and high blood glucose levels.
An article published in the British Medical Journal in 2006 showed that employees with chronic work stress are twice more likely at risk of metabolic syndrome than those who don’t have work stress.
Metabolic syndrome increases a person’s risk of type 2 diabetes and stroke. Since it is linked to stress, it may be a risk factor for heart disease as well.
Emotional eating is a common problem among most young children, teenagers, and adults. Stressful situations trigger the release of cortisol and adrenaline. The high cortisol levels in the blood increase your appetite and lead to sugar cravings.
Beating stress can seem near to impossible but you can reduce it by practicing a few life-improving techniques every day. First, identify what’s causing stress in your life and try to overcome it.
Next, take 5-10 minutes of your day to meditate and breathe deeply – preferably before you start your day or work. Other calming methods are yoga, tai chi, massage, exercise, dance, music, and aromatherapy. We all have that batch of chocolates hidden in the pantry just to help us at the end of a rough day.
People turn towards food while battling stress. Food triggers the reward centers in the brain and the most effective ones are those that are sweet, fatty, and salty. Unfortunately, these are the foods that are taking a toll on your digestion, metabolism, and ultimately your mood.
Sugar is a positive mood’s worst enemy unless it’s taken in a controlled manner, like a small piece of chocolate once in a while. Sugary foods hold little to no nutritional value and they lead to fluctuating blood sugar and insulin levels. These lead to poor concentration, bad mood, and irritability. If you’ve eaten a bit too much during the holidays, chances are you’ve experienced some mood swings along the way as well.
We need sodium but in moderate amounts. Sodium is a water magnet. If you take too much sodium, you’ll retain more fluid. This stresses your heart to work harder, increasing your blood pressure. High sodium foods also cause bloating and puffiness that can be quite unpleasant.
If you’re turning towards energy drinks for a quick pick-me-up, you might as well stick to a cup of Joe instead. Energy drinks and other highly caffeinated beverages feed stress and make it a bigger mess. The combination of caffeine and sugar makes you jittery, taxing the body, and adding more stress. Energy drinks also affect your sleep and cause irritability afterward.
Processed crap is loaded with sodium, fat, artificial additives, and sugar. They’re comfort foods we typically turn towards however, they actually aggravate stress levels. They contain very little nutrients, lots of calories, and they directly increase cortisol (the stress hormone) levels.
Artificially sweetened candies are just as bad as sugar-sweetened ones. They worsen digestive problems and thus, exacerbate stress. This can lead to grumpiness, bloating, and general discomfort with your body.
Who doesn’t love spicy food? If you’re experiencing digestive problems that may be contributing to your stress, you must stay away from spicy foods to alleviate discomfort. Folks who are easily stressed cannot process food as effectively as others. Stress stunts your metabolism and makes it more difficult for the body to digest food. This causes food to remain in the stomach for longer, leading to acid reflux.
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