Wouldn’t it be so much easier to live like a caveman?
Wake up, forage for some berries, hunt some wild game, eat, nap, shape and sharpen tools, perhaps procreate, tend to the fire, eat leftovers, call it a day.
The only two stressors our Neolithic ancestors faced, granted they were big ones: finding/hunting enough food and getting devoured by potential food sources like sabertooth tigers.
Now think about how many stressors you have: paying the bills, taking care of kids, going through a divorce or trying to save a tenuous marriage or relationship, getting sick or being chronically ill from poor dietary habits and lack of exercise, long commutes, being too overworked and underpaid….
Bedding down with the clan in a cave on a Wooly Mammoth skin, warmed by a fire … sounds pretty idyllic now, huh?
We all face stressors of some sort. Not all stress is bad. There’s what’s called eustress, or ‘good’ stress. On a blind date? That’s an example of eustress, unless of course, your date turns out to be a psychopath, in which case, eustress turns into DIStress.
Meet Your Stress Hormone
Exercising, sex, getting a promotion … these are other examples of eustress. But whether it’s good stress or bad, your body releases the hormone called cortisol when faced with stress. Some people who have heard of cortisol automatically assume that cortisol is bad, especially when faced with distress. A common misconception is that cortisol can make you fat.
Although this is indirectly true (more on this, shortly), it’s a good thing your body makes cortisol. When faced with stress, your body needs the extra energy production, whether it’s to fight off the sabertooth tiger or your spouse, or to run away from either … so cortisol directs more of your internal sugar into the bloodstream to prepare for “fight or flight”.
Some people, especially those in stressful jobs, such as emergency room surgeons, ‘hotshot’ firefighters, cruise ship entertainers (maybe not so much the latter), rely on cortisol to help their bodies deal with stress.
It’s unrealistic in this age to have no stress, but knowing how to manage stress can make the difference between a healthy, lean person and one who is chronically ill and overweight.
Take the ER surgeon who has just come home after a 10-hour life-saving operation. The surgeon will likely feel depleted of energy because the cortisol has largely depleted the body’s storage of glucose (blood sugar). The surgeon can either binge on junk food and watch a few hours of mindless TV, or, the surgeon can practice stress management techniques such as meditation and yoga.
Stress Can Make You Either Lose Weight or Get Fat
Now here’s where it gets interesting: some people can actually lose weight when under chronic stress. In addition to blood sugar, cortisol also directs fat and protein out of the tissues into the blood to serve as alternative energy sources.
Your adrenal glands, which rest on top of your kidneys, release cortisol. Before you go on a high-stress diet in hopes of losing weight, realize that you’re actually potentially wasting away muscle tissue. This is not a healthy form of weight loss: excess cortisol caused by too much stress can potentially lead to the following conditions, just to name a few:
--compromised immune system
Three sure-fire lifestyle habits that can lead to your adrenal glands being overtaxed in an attempt to release cortisol include:
--excess caffeine consumption
--excess alcohol and drug consumption
--excess strenuous exercise
Losing Sleep Can Make You Fat
Even though cortisol can use stored fat as an energy source, excess cortisol can also lead to an increase of so-called ‘visceral’ fat, the deep layer of fat well beneath the skin’s surface in and around the organs, which tends to accumulate around the abdomen. Visceral fat can lead to metabolic disorders such as diabetes and chronic disease like heart disease.
Going through excessive stress can make you fat simply by increasing your appetite or triggering emotional eating patterns. Emotional stress, such as getting dumped, can lead to bingeing on bon-bons or finishing off a tub of ice cream.
Another stressor, sleep deprivation, can lead to weight gain. Studies (such as this one) prove that chronic sleep disturbance can throw off the regulation of the appetite hormones, leptin and ghrelin, causing you to eat more than you normally would.
Need to Eat Away Stress? Do it With Miracle Noodle
In addition to practicing stress-management techniques--in addition to meditation and yoga, try breathwork, moderate exercise like long walks, moving meditative exercises like Tai Chi or Qigong--be sure not to boost your calorie intake with junk food while you are distressed. This can be tricky, but thankfully, you have a friend like zero-calorie yet filling Miracle Noodle to help satiate you during your time of high stress.
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