There is a saying, “Show me the size of your belly, and I will show you the size of your stress.” Study after study indicates the relationship between increased stress and increased weight as well as other health problems. When we take a look at the biochemical changes that happen when a body is under stress, we can begin to understand why stress reduction is so crucial to weight loss and long term weight maintenance.
Let’s take a look at some of the physical changes in the body when it is perceiving stress. First we must remember our friend the thyroid gland. This gland is responsible for secreting hormones (T4 and T3) which stimulate our cells to work better and faster. The result is a higher metabolic rate in the body. As you can imagine, when these hormones are working well, it is easier to maintain a healthy weight.
Now let’s introduce you to the adrenals—our stress glands. They sit atop the kidneys and secrete many different hormones, one of which is cortisol. Cortisol has many functions, but what is interesting in terms of weight and metabolism is its relationship with thyroid hormones. Cortisol interferes with the thyroid hormones’ abilities to work correctly when it is either too high or too low. So stress increases cortisol (or decreases it after many years) and this inhibits the metabolic rate in our body.
Where does stress come from?
Stress can result from emotional sources like relationship challenges, financial burdens, anxiety. It can also be the result of physical stressors like eating inflammatory foods (such as sugar, saturated fats, gluten, dairy), having the wrong mix of bacteria in the gut, or getting inadequate sleep.
What can we do?
It can be difficult to change the emotional stressors in your life, but you can shift your reaction to them. Letting go of things you cannot change can be easier said than done, but we can try our best. Decreasing physical stress can be easier. Shifting to whole foods low in sugar, gluten, and bad fats can profoundly impact the body in a positive way. Exercise is an effective way to alleviate stress and shift our hormones for the better. Laughter and deep breathing seem simple, but have profound effects if done routinely. In addition, there are many different natural medicines which can correct these imbalances. At Thrive, we are committed to helping each patient correct underlying issues which are all too often roadblocks to success.
–Dr. Amy Bader
Learn more about Thrive’s holistic and effective approach to weight loss while getting the support and tools you need to achieve and maintain your weight loss goals at Dr. Bader’s May 18th weight loss event. Space is limited to ensure personalized attention, so register today!