STRESS AS A NATURAL OCCURRENCE
Our bodies are designed to handle variations from diet, exercise, stress and weight. It regularly produces assorted hormones for a period of time to take care of these situations. All this is a normal cycle for the body.
STRESS & HORMONES
The challenge is when that stressor continues for a prolonged period of time. This causes the body to overproduce hormones, thus stressing the entire system, breaking down cells, tissues, and organs.
When our body undergoes a stress, the adrenal glands produce adrenaline aka epinephrine. This hormone stimulates the heart muscle, alters the rate of blood flow, and raises basal metabolic rate. This is known as the fight or flight syndrome. Epinephrine also prompts the secretion of glucagon by the pancreas, causing the release of nutrients from storage. The steroid hormone cortisol is also produced. It enhances protein degradation, which raises amino acid levels in the blood so that they become available for conversion of glucose. The two other hormones induced by stress, aldosterone and antidiuretic hormone both help to maintain blood volume.
Epinephrine does not stick around very long in the body however, when stress is prolonged, cortisol does. This hormone will affect the body in many detrimental ways. Excess cortisol will:
• Decrease metabolism by inhibiting thyroid function
• Depletes protein in the muscles, bones, connective tissue and skin which can cause fatigue, weakness, thinning of the bones, and bruising
• Decreases the production of androgens and growth hormones which build muscles
• Can cause insulin resistance
• Increase fat accumulation, especially in the belly
• Increase appetite and carbohydrate cravings
• Will cause depression, anxiety, and mood swings
Is cortisol related to abdominal obesity?
“Yes. There is a link between high cortisol levels and storage of body fat, particularly “visceral” abdominal body fat (also known as intra-abdominal fat). Visceral fat is stored deeper in the abdominal cavity and around the internal organs, whereas “regular” fat is stored below the skin (known as subcutaneous fat).