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  • Writer's pictureKIMI VERMA

How your body reacts to stress??

The number of stressed people are rising, and it is rather alarming. A data from the American Psychological Association (APA) indicated that in the last month, 3 out of 4 Americans are dealing with 1 stress-related symptom at the very least.

Why do I say it is alarming?

Stress does a lot of unwanted health consequences, one of which is the undesirable weight gain. Your body’s response system involves a hormone called cortisol, which increases the blood sugar in the body.

It does not matter if you overeat unhealthy foods when stressed because that is just a part of it. Overall, your body’s way of managing stress should be a priority if you want to avoid unnecessary weight gain. Stress can go unnoticeable at first, but after consistent exposure, your body will begin to feel physical symptoms like headaches, tight muscles and more. Emotionally, you’ll feel irritated, out of control, overwhelmed and all the other ill feelings stress can cause.

When this prolongs, you may notice an unwanted weight gain due to the action of cortisol. I’ll have to elaborate on this hormone as this is the one that gets the body to “flight or flee,” as said by weight loss expert, Dr. Charlie Seltzer.

Cortisol is secreted by the adrenal glands whenever your body is feeling stressed. However, due to its “flight or flee” action, the levels of this hormone goes back to normal when the body feels that there is no more threat from stress.

On the other hand, there are times that cortisol never goes back to its normal level. This happens when the body is constantly exposed to stress. Overexposure to cortisol, as a result, may lead to overeating as it is known to be an appetite stimulant.

Dr. Seltzer explained, “This is why so many people respond to stress by going for comfort food.” Due to overeating (or should I say, excessive intake of calories) as an effect of high levels of cortisol, the extra calories are stored as fat in the middle area. This is why love handles are often the first ones to develop when you are gaining weight. This agrees with the study conducted in 2015 wherein data showed how the human body responds to stress as evidenced by its level of metabolism. Researchers stated that women who experience one or more stress symptoms in the previous day burned 104 calories lesser as compared to those who are not stressed. This was concluded after interviewing all the participants about their own stressful experience before giving them a meal that is high in fat.

After consuming the meal, all the participants were asked to wear a mask to measure the level of oxygen and carbon dioxide they inhale and exhale. Then, they gathered corresponding rate of metabolism.

According to the data, stressed women showed a significant slowing of metabolism and a higher blood insulin level. It was then concluded that the 104-caloric deficit may add to approximately 11 pounds of weight gain annually.


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