How much we weigh is based on much more than just what we eat, and how much we exercise. Stress can be one of the biggest contributors to changes in body weight. Even a small daily annoyance can cause changes to occur in our body. Many things contribute to how our body responds to stress including how intense the stressor is, how long it lasts, how frequent it is, and how we have learned to cope with it. Hormonal changes that occur in our body when we are under stress also affect our weight. Luckily, there are many ways to combat stress and decrease the effects that it has on our body.
When we perceive something as a threat, our body goes into action immediately. This is referred to as the “fight or flight” response; this is our body preparing to either fight off the threat or run away from it, this is how we react to short-term stressors. Norepinephrine and epinephrine, hormones released from our adrenal glands, prepare our body for fighting or running by increasing our heart rate, blood pressure, and the rate at which we use carbohydrates and fats for energy. Once the threat is gone, our body will return to a normal state, but if the threat is never perceived to be gone then our adrenal glands begin to secrete glucocorticoids, or stress hormones. The primary stress hormone in our body is cortisol, which stimulates our appetite and increases production of insulin. When insulin levels go up, our blood sugar goes down, which is another signal to our body that it is time to eat. In the short term, stress can decrease our appetite and cause weight loss because our body is focused on reacting quickly to the perceived threat, but stress over a long period of time can lead to weight gain.
Remember that a perceived threat may not be physical, and it may not even be real! Our body reacts the same way to mental and emotional stress as it does to physical stress; and if we THINK something is a threat, our body is going to automatically react. How we deal with the stress in our life can also lead to changes in our weight. Being able to effectively cope with and manage stress means an easier time maintaining a healthy weight, plus feeling better both mentally and physically.
Protea Nutrition developed stress defy to help with way the body manages cortisol levels and stress. Stress defy contains several nutrients that help to support healthy adrenal gland function. It helps to control cortisol levels, which will help the body to adjust to mental, physical, and emotional stress properly. In turn this will help to support a healthy weight, decreased appetite, and increased mental clarity.