Stress is a principal offender when it comes to your health. When you eat, your autonomic nervous system unconsciously regulates bodily functions. Another part of your autonomic nervous system switches on when you are stressed. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the ‘fight and flight’ response.
Eating healthy can be challenging to maintain during stressful times. Stress wears us down and interferes with the digestive process. Weight gain during stressful times may be partly due to the body’s hormonal checks and balances system.
Cortisol is typically secreted by the adrenal glands in a pattern called a diurnal variation, meaning that the bloodstream’s cortisol levels vary depending upon the time of day. Most of the time, cortisol levels are highest in the early morning and lowest around midnight. Does cortisol stimulate insulin release? Yes. The result is an increase in appetite and stress. This disruption may not only promote weight gain but may also affect where you put on the weight. Some studies have shown that stress and elevated cortisol tend to cause fat deposition in the abdominal area rather than in the hips.
Whether or not a person’s stress levels will result in high cortisol levels and weight gain is not predictable. The amount of cortisol secreted in response to stress varies among individuals, with some persons being innately more ‘reactive’ to stressful events. Studies of women who tended to react to stress with higher cortisol secretion levels showed some women ate more when under stress than women who secreted less cortisol. These women who stored their excess fat in the abdominal area had higher cortisol levels. The research reported more lifestyle stress for women who stored fat in their hips.
A method for lowering cortisol levels that have risen in response to stress is exercise. Exercise benefits the burning of calories. Skipping caffeine, listening to relaxing music, and hanging out with funny and positive people will also help you lower your cortisol levels, say some experts.
Drinking tea is a great tool to help you achieve incredible changes in your body and life too. AWE is creating a tea that will reduce stress, and we firmly believe that everyday people can achieve ZEN with the right mind-set and food.