Let me ask you what will seem like two completely unrelated and bizarre questions, (just bare with me, it will all make sense shortly):
1. Are you a bit of a worrier or stress head?
2. Do you have a “muffin top”, (a bigger tummy than you may like?)
No, I have not lost my mind or run out of post ideas. Even though these two questions may seem completely random and unrelated they in fact go very much hand in hand. Let me explain…………….
Now, as I have described in previous posts when we stress out we release hormones into to our body. Back in cave man days these hormones, Cortisol and Adrenalin, were released to help us fight or flight from an attacker. So imagine that you are tending to your cave when a massive woolly mammoth comes to attack, your body releases these hormones to give you strength to fight the mammoth or extra speed and agility to flee from the scary creature. In defending yourself you burn up the hormones and all is good. Fast forward a few million years, many of us stress or worry on a daily basis, hormones are released repeatedly into our system and we are not burning them up or using them for their intended purpose. Our bodies have no idea that we are stressing out about something as simple as getting to the post office in time, so they release the hormones to prepare us to fight off or flee from a woolly mammoth, we don’t use the hormones and they just sit in our body.
Cortisol, when not used or burnt off, increases the storage of abdominal fat. Therefore when we stress and worry, we increase our levels of cortisol and increase our abdominal fat…..”Muffin top”. There you have it, my seemingly, two unrelated questions now make sense. Stressing out can be major contributors to a fat belly.
Now if you are a worrier and have a flat tummy, don’t stop reading, you do not get off, cortisol can contribute to other negative health factors that also need to be addressed. Mood fluctuations, anxiety, depression, exhaustion, irritable bowel, hypertension and immunity problems are all related to stress and higher than ideal levels of cortisol.
What can we do? Well the obvious answer is “Don’t stress”, “take a chill pill” and “relax”. If only life were that simple, but as we all know, it is not that easy. Don’t lose hope there are things that we can do to help. Get more sleep, drink black tea, try to stress less, laugh, listen to music, meditate, take deep breaths, find relaxing activities, reduce caffeine intake, eat better, eat low GI foods, go for a walk or some exercise that you enjoy, spend time with friends that uplift you, put your worries into perspective and ask yourself the question “is this issue really worth affecting my health and well-being?
Do you stress? What do you do to try to reduce your stress?