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How stress leads to weight gain
January 15th, 2020 + The Naturopathic Co.

Stress is a key factor in modern life which negatively impacts our health and wellbeing. We are all prone to stress and its effects.

As our body reacts to stress, our immune function is dampened. But did you know the physiological mechanisms which occur when we are stressed, have also been shown to influence our weight.

Our gut microbiota is also altered under long term chronic stress, which in turn alters the way our food is metabolised, and the efficiency of our digestive system.

When we are stressed, the amygdala, the area of the brain responsible for emotional processes, signals to the hypothalamus, which is the command centre of the brain. This centre is activated when we are stressed because it controls the fight or flight response.

The adrenal glands are then signaled to release adrenaline, which is needed for short-term stress when the fight or flight response is activated.

However, during more prolonged or chronic stress, cortisol is released for extended periods causing excess amounts in our system. The role of cortisol is to promote the release of sugars and fats into the bloodstream to be utilised by muscles.

However, if we have excess cortisol in the blood then we becomes less and less efficient at clearing the it, along with the sugars, and fats.

The excess sugars are converted to a fat which is stored, called visceral fat. This storage of fat increases our body weight.

There are some herbs which naturopaths can utilise to reduce cortisol during times of stress, such as withania, magnolia, phellodendron, ginseng, and holy basil.

The increase of cortisol is what can influence our weight gain, therefore reducing this hormone by managing stress, as well as eating a clean and wholefoods diet and exercising regularly, are all important factors in managing weight.

If you would like to investigate if hormones are impacting your weight gain, ask your naturopath to run a series of tests to determine your hormone levels.

Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of conditions commonly affecting women and children, with a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions, as well as women’s hormonal concerns, digestive issues, fatigue, anxiety, and skin concerns. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Melbourne, as well as Australia-wide via skype/zoom/phone. 

References

http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/endocrine/pancreas/insulin_phys.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23439798

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3750820/

The Naturopathic Co. Melbourne Naturopath 2020


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