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.
- Apovian CM. 2010. The causes, prevalence, and treatment of obesity revisited in 2009: what have we learned so far? Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Jan;91(1):277S-279S.
- Bastard JP et al. 2006. Recent advances in the relationship between obesity, inflammation, and insulin resistance. Eur Cytokine Netw. 2006 Mar;17(1):4-12.
- Ford-Martin, Paula. 2004. The Everything Diabetes Book. F + W Publications.
- Green R and G Turner. 2010. Growing evidence for the influence of meditation on brain and behaviour. Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2010 Apr;20(2):306-11.
- Gustafson B. 2010. Adipose Tissue, Inflammation and Atherosclerosis. J Atheroscler Thromb. 2010 Feb 3.
- Hartfiel N et al. 2010. The effectiveness of yoga for the improvement of well-being and resilience to stress in the workplace. Scand J Work Environ Health. 2010 Apr 6.
- Kuo LE et al. 2008. Chronic stress, combined with a high-fat/high-sugar diet, shifts sympathetic signaling toward neuropeptide Y and leads to obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2008 Dec;1148:232-7.
- Mayo KR. 2009. Support from neurobiology for spiritual techniques for anxiety: a brief review. J Health Care Chaplain. 2009 Jan;16(1):53-7.
- Mujica-Parodi LR et al. 2009. Higher body fat percentage is associated with increased cortisol reactivity and impaired cognitive resilience in response to acute emotional stress. Int J Obes (Lond). 2009 Jan;33(1):157-65.
- Saeed SA et al. 2010. Exercise, yoga, and meditation for depressive and anxiety disorders. Am Fam Physician. 2010 Apr 15;81(8):981-6.
- Vicennati V et al. 2009. Stress-related development of obesity and cortisol in women. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2009 Sep;17(9):1678-83.
Oysters on the Half Shell with Citrus Chili Sauce Spinach Omelet Linguine with Red Pepper Sauce Chocolatey Almond Cheesecake Berry Soup Shrimp Fettuccine Balsamic Leeks Peanut Butter and Jelly Thumbprint Cookies Korean Style Pork Tenderloin Pimiento Cheese Spread
As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the benefits that made it cost-effective for me to go with the real healthcare (HSA) plan rather than the phony (HRA) plan is that my company is now covering "preventative" medicines at $0 copay. The formulary for these, as stated by CVS/Caremark (my pharmacy benefits provider), covers all test strips, lancets, and control solutions. I dutifully get my doctor to write up prescriptions for all of my testing needs, submit...