Obesity rates have increased by leaps and bounds over the last 25 years. It is estimated that around 34% of the population aged over 20 years is obese in the United States. It is the latest known prevailing epidemic.
The obscurities of stress and its corporal effects revive old challenges and provide us with new ones. Stress and obesity go together. To know more about stress and obesity,read on.
According to contemporary research studies, stress can stimulate obesity by unlocking the fat cells of your body. Researchers have found a molecule, called NPY (neuropeptide Y). This molecule is responsible for unlocking certain receptors in fat cells, causing them to grow in both size and number. Basically, chronic stress and obesity go hand in hand with one another.
The real cause of obesity is usually hidden beneath the surface. It will generally turn out to be one or all of the following:
4. Poor Self Image
5. Tense Lifestyle
How Stress Causes Obesity?
Stress causes obesity in the following ways:
- Stress can cause Insulin Resistance-related to excess weight and obesity. Various forms of stress release the steroid cortisol (one kind of hormone) and this process may result in severe weight gain.
- Insulin sensitivity decreases after certain stressful experiences, such as surgery, and it is also associated with work-related mental and emotional stress.It is also influenced by such factors as overeating, poor lifestyle choices and sedentary habits.
- Stress causes the liver to release glucose into the blood stream. This process can also result in obesity.
- According to a recent study, people with increased level of serum cortisol (caused by chronic stress) developed abdominal obesity, Insulin Resistance and lipid abnormalities.
- Excessive levels of insulin signal our bodies to store unused glucose as fat throughout the body. This also causes a rise in cholesterol and blood pressure levels, the formation of artery-blocking plaque and an increased risk of kidney dysfunction.
Why Stress Causes Obesity?
Here are a few reasons as to why stress causes obesity:
- It is a general consensus that stress is caused by negative events such as illness, death of a loved one or difficulties in relationships or business.
- As a matter of fact, stress can be caused by positive things also such as a big promotion. So,the more stress or excitement you’ll have, the more you’ll be obese.
- The major sources of stress are your emotions, your thoughts, your body and your environment. By researchers, it has been estimated that about 80% of all illnesses and health problems are directly or indirectly related to stress and obesity is just one of them.
- Basically, stress itself is not negative but its upshots are essentially negative. If stress is not tackled properly, your mind starts finding a way to respond to it for dissolving its effects in a negative manner.
- Obesity is linked to stressful events, as sometimes people try to cope with stress by overeating. You must have experienced that you subconsciously tend to eat unhealthy food in unreasonable amounts when you are tense.
- Over indulgence in anything is perhaps the commonest problem faced by people who try to lose weight. Over indulgence or binge is nothing but a simple and sudden outburst of stress in a subconscious state of mind.
- Since we are all normal human beings; so it’s not possible for us to get rid of stress. The only solution is to know ways and techniques to cope with stress so that it can’t leave any kind of negative results especially obesity.
- Children with stressed mothers are also more likely to be obese. According to researchers from University of Bristol, maternal stress and obesity are strongly related to each other. Hence, find ways to eliminate stress to effectively overcome obesity.
How belly fat in particular is related to stress?
Stress and belly fat are interlinked. Time and again, research has proved that belly fat is associated with heart disease. Abdominal fat reduces the secretion of stress and inflammation reducing chemical called adiponectin thats related to the hunger controlling hormone leptin. More the adinopectin, lesser the stress and accumulation of fat on the omentum. The omentum is the layer of connective tissue stretched over the core abdominal organs.
What is the connection between stress and belly fat?
Stress can be of two types. We will see how excessive stress can add to tummy fat and cause harm.
- One is acute stress caused by any existing and immediate problem on hand. The body produces the neurotransmitter norepinephrine and speeds up the heart rate, breathing and suppresses appetite. The body inhibits a substance called the peptide NPY during periods of acute stress and reduces hunger. So acute stress works in favor of weight loss.
- The second is the chronic stress associated with the trials and tribulations of modern life. The body generally responds to this stress by storing excess energy to call upon periods of emergency. These extra calories are stored in the omentum or the abdominal tissue. Excess fat and inflammatory chemicals stored in the abdominal tissue have a direct access to the liver which will be processed by the liver and release the toxic protein into the body.
- Under stress, the body releases huge amounts of steroids into the blood stream in the form of hormone cortisol. The omentum has in built receptor cells which can absorb the excess cortisol. This absorbed cortisol increases the fat accumulating capacity of the omentum.
- The excess steroids in the omentum fat hamper metabolism by on setting insulin resistance so that the glucose levels in the blood streams increase leading to an increased appetite followed by increased food intake. And the cycle goes on.
Top 3 Ways to Prevent Weight Gain due to Stress
- Recognize the warning signs of stress which include anxiety, pain in the body, feeling of nausea and migraines. Talk to your doctor and seek medication. If you feel that your stress is not severe, there are other ways to deal with your stress such as relaxation techniques; practice yoga and meditation. Spend time with those people who make you feel comfortable and relaxed. Spend more time on exercising. Doing physical activities will help you to burn calories and prevents you from gaining weight.
- Cook and eat food which is healthy. Do not starve. Generally, when we are stressed, we get more prone to eat food from outside which is high calorie junk food. Even consumption of alcohol leads to stress and anxiety due to empty calories found in alcohol. Eat meals that you enjoy eating and prepare them at home. Preparing food by yourself will be psychologically rewarding and relaxing. Cooking food at home will help you not to gain weight. Do not skip meals and especially breakfast.
- Take rest and sleep adequately. Your brain needs time to recharge. People experiencing stress and anxiety need more sleep so that their brain gets time to relax. People who are not able to get sleep easily are more likely to be overweight. This happens because the hormones namely ghrelin and leptin get disrupted by the lack of sleep. If you are suffering from insomnia, refer to your doctor. Sleep well so that you feel more energetic, alert and happy.