Does Stress Make You Fat?
Or Does Fat Make You Stressed?
Stress...fat...an endless cycle? It may be a classic catch-22, but how do we put the kibosh on the whole thing?
Americans: smart and industrious, democratic and free — and, unfortunately, anxiety-riddled and overweight . Stress and fat go together like peanut butter and jelly (on Wonder bread). Researchers have known for over a decade that there's a connection between chronic stress, fat and obesity. But new studies have identified the exact chain of molecular events that links the two conditions, according to reports in the July 1, 2007, online version of Nature Medicine (doi: 10.1038/nm1611).
The Stress-Fat Connection
Stress is like a steroid for fat cells. When the body is stressed, one of the substances it releases is a a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol causescauses heart rate and blood pressure to increase, along with a number of other physiological reactions. It causes the release of fatty acids from fat tissues, and raises blood pressure. One other thing this molecule does is to unlock certain receptors in fat cells, allowing them to grow bigger than normal and also to multiply.
Scientists at Georgetown University have found a connection between stress, a high-calorie diet, and extreme weight gain. These scientists tested two groups of mice — a stressed group and a non-stressed group. Each group was fed normal diets and high-fat and high-sugar ("comfort food") diets. The stressed mice on the high-fat and high-sugar diet gained twice as much fat as unstressed mice on the same diet. The stressed animals used and stored fat differently than the non-stressed ones.
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This morning it wasn’t the sun, the wind, or the birds that woke me up. It was the soft, insistent vibrating of a medical device urging me to check my blood sugar. Opening my eyes, still safely under the covers, I checked my blood sugar with a meter smaller than a deck of cards, calibrated my continuous glucose monitor, and then glanced at my insulin pump — which reminded me that today was the day I needed to change my infusion set. My dLife is pretty high tech. And I’m...