In today’s busy and stressful daily life, stress is the number one enemy of the human body. It has a very negative impact – it can cause and trigger a number of illnesses, as well as contribute to increasing your weight.
Whether you are stressed at work, at home or stressed for other reasons, your body responds to this mental state by releasing cortisol – the stress hormone.
What is Stress and What Causes it?
Stress is the body’s reaction to real or perceived situations that could go beyond your resources to deal with. When you feel threatened, a chemical reaction takes place in your body that allows you to act in a way that prevents the danger.
This reaction is also known as “fight or flight” – an evolutionary mechanism for survival. When stress occurs, heart rate increases, breathing accelerates, muscles tighten, and blood pressure is rising to be ready to protect yourself.
All of this biological response has helped us a lot in the past, but in today’s busy everyday life, it hinders us rather than helps us.
How Stress Affects Weight Loss
Cortisol release under chronic stress can make weight loss difficult for a couple of reasons.
Cortisol is directly involved in your appetite. Through various mechanisms, cortisol, along with other stress hormones, increases the desire for high-calorie foods by simultaneously shutting down brain centers responsible for self-control and stimulating those associated with fast awards.
Cortisol is primarily synthesized by the adrenal glands, but there is also one more place where it can be produced – in the deep layers of abdominal fat (visceral fat) by an enzyme called 11-HSD. This enzyme converts the inactive cortisone into active cortisol. Insulin is increasing the action of 11-HSD, further increasing the levels of cortisol, which in turn causes insulin resistance.
Because of this, the abdominal fat is acting as a parasite that guarantees its survival at the expense of the host. This is why in many cases you can’t get rid of the stubborn belly fat despite your diet and training.
High levels of cortisol are also known to attack muscle mass, which in turn is slowing the metabolism due to the fact that muscle burns calories simply to exist.
Other Stress-Related Problems
Continuous tension caused by high levels of stress can cause raising in cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and triglyceride levels in the bloodstream.
Stress also provokes certain inflammations in the body that lead to clogging of skin pores. As a result, the skin becomes red and irritated.
A large amount of cortisol can also negatively affect the frontal cortex of the brain, which is responsible for decision-making and memory.
How to deal with stress.
To deal with stress, which is an integral part of everyday life, consider following a few simple recommendations. They will help you in the process of fighting stress and eliminating it, thus protecting your body from illness.
If you are one of the millions of people who are concerned about the amount of stress they have in their life, try to follow these recommendations: