The body cannot perform at an optimal level without proper sleep. We talk about the connection between sleep and weight and share 11 tips to help you sleep better!
Stress and cortisol. They seem to go hand in hand. Why? Well, cortisol, typically known as the “stress hormone” is released when our bodies go into a state of fight-or-flight. This response can also result from physical or psychological stress. When our bodies are experiencing a stressor, our adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, discharge cortisol. Cortisol floods our bodies with glucose, giving our bodies an immediate source of energy.
That doesn’t seem too bad, does it? It’s just energy after all.
The problem is, under constant stress our bodies can start elevating cortisol levels. This results in glucose being consistently pumped throughout our bodies, which can lead to increased blood sugar levels.1 If you’ve ever found yourself wondering why you’re not losing that stubborn belly fat, your cortisol levels could be a contributing factor because “cortisol can mobilize triglycerides from storage and relocate them to visceral fat cells (those under the muscle, deep in the abdomen).”2 That stored fat hiding under muscle is what causes stubborn belly fat.
But, before giving cortisol a bad name, remember that it’s there for a reason. Proper levels of cortisol can help regulate blood pressure, assist with anti-inflammatory responses, help with blood sugar maintenance, and aid in proper glucose metabolism and proper immune function.3 All-in-all, that pesky little stress hormone on its own isn’t all that bad and other factors can play a part in stress and weight gain.
Helpful Ways to Combat Stress
The Mayo Clinic suggests the following strategies to help with stress management4:
- Eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise and plenty of sleep
- Practicing relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing, getting a massage or meditating
- Taking time for hobbies, such as reading a book or listening to music
- Fostering healthy friendships
- Having a sense of humor
- Volunteering in your community
- Seeking professional counseling when needed
- Aronson, Dina, MS, RD. “Cortisol – Its Role in Stress, Inflammation, and Indications for Diet Therapy.” Editorial. Today’s Dietitian Nov. 2009: 38. Today’s Dietitian. Web. 29 June 2017.
- Elizabeth Scott, MS | Reviewed by a Board-certified Physician. “What You Need to Know About the Stress Hormone.” Verywell. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2017.
- “Chronic Stress Puts Your Health at Risk.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 21 Apr. 2016. Web. 29 June 2017.
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