We have all dealt with this thing called stress in our lives at some point or the other. Our daily lives with hectic working schedules and chaotic personal lives leave a certain amount of stress and anxiety behind that adversely affect not just our mind but our body too. It will be quite hard to find an average adult in today’s times who is not afflicted with stress in his/her daily life due to one reason or another.
Stress does worse harm to our body than the invasion of a virus or any other foreign body. Do you want to know how? Keep reading!
We call it cortisol, and we know it as the stress hormone. Our body produces it in emergency situations to help us deal with problems and their impact on our metabolism. When an individual experiences a chronic stress situation, internal or external, the cortisol levels are triggered. As a result, being the only provider of glucose in the brain, it will try to obtain it through different ways: destroying tissues, fatty acids, muscle proteins and refraining the entry of glucose into various other tissues.
In this way, all the anabolic functions of recovery, renewal and tissue creation are paralyzed. The individual resorts to catabolic metabolism to solve this alarming situation.
Symptoms of Elevated Cortisol Levels
- Changes in behavior: Constant irritability and feelings of anger; the lack of a sense of humor and an urge to cry all the time
- Physical symptoms: Permanent tiredness (even if no activity is performed), headaches, palpitations, hypertension, lack of appetite or excessive gut, digestive problems, frequent urination, diarrhea or constipation, muscle aches or cramps, infertility and interruption of menstruation
- Memory loss because high cortisol levels damage the connection between the brain cells.
- Decreased defenses
Guidelines for Controlling the Cortisol Levels
Although it is not easy to control cortisol, several guidelines can go a long way in maintaining the adequate levels of cortisol in your body. They are:
- You must supply your body with all the necessary nutrients to prevent any deficiency such as high-quality proteins, essential fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, and A decrease in caloric intake is an increase in cortisol levels, so it is advisable to consume eggs, milk and whole grains, which are rich in tryptophan (an amino acid that stimulates the production of serotonin, the hormone of well-being).
- Avoid the consumption of exciting drinks (coffee, cola, and alcohol). We must also eliminate artificial sweeteners, especially aspartame, which excessively stimulates the functioning of the adrenal glands.
- It is imperative to sleep eight hours at night so that our body starts the mechanism of cell renewal and recovery.
- Practice yoga, tai-chi, relaxation exercises, meditation, or breathing techniques regularly that help to counteract the periods of tension.
- In all cases, it is crucial to consult with your doctor, therapist or other health professionals to deal with this issue.
Why Does Stress Make You Put on Weight?
Cortisol causes the increase of insulin in the body. The elevation of these levels triggers an increase in the appetite, especially by consuming sweets and starches. This way of eating favors the storage of fat, generating high levels of inflammatory substances in the liver.
On the other hand, the brain is also affected because when trying to relieve stress with food, we activate its reward center. For example, eating ice cream or fries creates a feeling of well-being, but once the effect has passed, we feel the desire to consume more of those foods that, supposedly, relax us.
Therefore, it is imperative to know how to handle stress and understand how our emotions stimulate our desire to eat. We need to develop strategies that help us eat better. And we need to avoid gaining or losing those kilos that can cause serious damage.
How Managing Your Stress Can Help You Lose Weight
Did you know that stress can potentially increase your chances of developing Alzheimer’s, heart diseases, diabetes and even depression? Ergo, it becomes even more critical to keep this beast at bay. You can do it by keeping your cortisol levels down. Inculcating some stress management activities such as yoga, meditation, stress toys, talking to a confidant or a professional into your daily routine can significantly help you in managing your stress and hence, keeping your weight in check.
Food for Thought
Stress is a slow killer; make no mistake about that! It can afflict irreparable damage to your body over time. This is why it becomes crucial to keep your stress in check and de-stress your life. Try to be around happy people and be positive about life. Also, surrounding yourself with friends and keeping away from stressful situations mindfully is key to attaining a healthy mind and body.
About the Author
Mitravinda is a Nutritionist at DietChart with a doctoral degree in Food Science and Nutrition. She is a teacher, researcher, and an author. Her passion for the subject prompted her to start writing blogs on various nutrition-related topics such as diet chart for weight loss, diet chart for weight loss in 7 days, how to remove dark circles in 2 days etc. Through her blogs, she helps people gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between food, nutrition, lifestyle, and health.