stress and the effects to the body

Stress And Effects To Your Health

In today’s fast-paced world, the pandemic crisis, the increasing unemployment rate, the loss of homes, and the piling of financial debt, prolonged (chronic) stress is common, but your body and mind can pay a high price.

The purpose of this article is to provide you with the educational tools on how to recognize the symptoms and signs of overwhelming stress, its effects on the body, and ways to bring it to a minimal level.

Why did I write this Article?

I wanted to let you know that I care about you and feel your pain because I am victim as well.

Thinking about the situation and losing so much sleep trying to figure out ways to help people like you, I decided to research and write about the stress you and I are experiencing, how it affects our health especially body weight, and to provide you with various ways that helped me reduced my stress to a controllable level.

You might be wondering why not eliminate stress completely, but I want to let you know that every living thing especially humans need a minimum level of stress to function. If there is no stress, our stress hormone cell will cease to function, and when we are experiencing a stressful situation our body will not be able to handle it and the result will be catastrophic leading to death.

Now let us define stress.

What is stress?

Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of threat or demand. When you sense danger, whether it’s real or imagined, the body’s defense systems kick into high gear in a fast, automatic process known as the “fight-or-flight” reaction also known as the “stress response.”

The stress response is the body’s way of protecting you. When working properly, it helps you stay focused, alert, and energetic. In emergency situations, stress can save your life—giving you extra strength to defend yourself, for instance, if you come across a lion that is accidentally let loose from the zoo, or someone chases you with a gun.

Stress can also help you rise to meet challenges: It’s what drives you to study for an exam when you’d rather be watching TV; keeps you on your toes during a presentation at work; and sharpens your attentiveness when you’re attempting the game-winning free throw.

Another example, people been treated with steroid (cortisol) long-term can’t withstand major surgery because their body stop produce cortisol to handle the stress of 4 to 8 hours of a major surgical operation.

But beyond a certain point, stress seizes being useful and starts causing serious damage to your health, weight, mood, relationships, productivity, and your quality of life.

If you frequently find yourself feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, it’s time to take action to bring your nervous system back into balance. You can protect yourself—and improve how you feel and think.

By learning how to recognize the warning symptoms and signs of persistent (chronic) stress and taking the necessary steps to decrease its harmful effects.

The flight-or-fight response: Your body reaction

Whenever you feel threatened or sense danger, your nervous system responds by releasing a flood of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, which rouse the body for emergency action. Your heart beat rapidly, blood pressure hit the roof, muscle become tense, breath quickens, and your 7 senses become sharper. These physiological and physical changes increase your stamina and strength, speed up your reaction time, and enhance your focus-preparing you to either flee from (usually the case) or stand and fight (the brave) the danger or imminent threat at hand.

The role Stress (Cortisol) Plays in weight gain

We are living in a current world where billions of people are in lock down due to the pandemic crisis; millions of people are losing their only source of living (unemployment skyrocketing); the future of millions are becoming uncertain; and children are being taught at home, and to make matter worst, the rate of sleep deprivation, including its associated negative impacts continue to rise up to the sky because you and I are stress like “H”.

As you are reading this article right now, there is no doubt countless number of people are living in a constant state of stress.

How does excessive stress impact your health negatively?

  1.  Weight gain
  2.  Sleep problems
  3. Anxiety and depression
  4. Pain all over your body
  5. Autoimmune diseases
  6. Digestive problems
  7. 6. Skin conditions, e.g. eczema
  8. Heart diseases
  9. Reproductive issues
  10. Memory and thinking issues

How Does Stress Make YOU struggle to lose weight?

In the case of body weight, studies have shown that increasing and constant stress leads to weight gain and make it difficult to lose weight.

You might be wondering how so? You thought that too much stress supposed to make you lose weight. Well that is “partially” true for some people, particularly when they restrict themselves from eating “junk” food. For example, during loss of love one’s by “AVOIDING FOOD” because they are mourning.

Which brings a valid point that reducing the number of calories, eating healthy, and been actively living is a proper way to “Managed stress of life” and also having a regular high quality sleep.

But for majority of others like, probably like you and me, stress make us eat more, snack excessively, particularly on junk foods.

According to Trusted Source, the increased in cortisol level promotes fat storage in your belly instead of the excess calories that you eat being stored as fat all over the body. In many people, stress drives overeating. But instead of the excess calories being stored as fat all over the body, cortisol promotes fat storage in the belly (Trusted Source).Unfortunately, it can lead to weight gain when produced in excess, especially in the abdominal region.

Per Epel, et al. (2000), central fat distribution is linked to greater psychological vulnerability to stress and cortisol reactivity, which may be true particularly for lean women, who are not used to having repeated stress. This study findings also shows a link between psychological stress and risk for disease.

What does this mean in simple term, women who have large waists in proportion to their hips have been found to secrete more cortisol when stressed.

Same article, claimed that cortisol effects increase our desire (craving) for palatable food intake, increases abdominal fat depots, and circulating insulin levels (increase storage of glucose and fats).

They also believe that the type of food intake and increase insulin prevent your brain from responding to stress (malfunction of negative feedback of HPA axis).

Such an effect is dependent on food choices, rather than total calories ingested.

We all know that stress is ever-present (omnipresent) in the workplace, palatable food ingestion may represent a means to combat the feeling of stress which is ultimately maladaptive when unresolved.

Evidence based studies on stress causing weight gain

Per Klatzkin, et al.(2019) linear regression study shown that Perceived life stress (PLS) and cognitive restraint are associated with increased comfort food intake under stress and lead to weight gain and obesity.

Although the mechanisms by which they do so remain unclear.

The author believes that stress and other negative affect are linked with increased reward-driven comfort food intake as a means to ‘feel better’, especially for people with higher PLS and cognitive restraint.

They also demonstrated that stress-induced NA predicted more snack intake for women with higher PLS, and that higher PLS was related with heightened emotional relief upon snacking under stress.

Chronic stress is associated with palatable food intake and thus, the development of obesity. This may be due to chronic stress disrupting the regulatory effects of the hypothalami pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis on stress-induced eating.

According to a study, the activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is controlled by a negative feedback loop that dampens your brain central drive of the axis through the actions of the secreted glucocorticoids.

The study shown that when we are experiencing a constant stress, the HPA axis activity are reduced which imply that other indirect peripheral or extra-hypothalami glucocorticoid actions (Warne, 2009).

Another study shown that corticosteroids, the stress hormone stimulate behaviors that are mediated by dopaminergic mesolimbic “reward” pathways, and increase palatable feeding in rats (Dall, et al.,2006).

What are the benefits of controlling your stress level?

  • Better sleep
  • Being able to lose weight (Perfect body physique)
  • Better concentration
  • Increase immunity
  • Pain free
  • Free from anxiety and depression
  • Good health and fitness.

Ways to solve excess stress

Get your sleep or rest what I called your “me” time no matter what

Learn and practice relaxation techniques

Uplift your mood through regular exercise

Connect with others

Engage your sense

Learn stress management e.g meditation, Yoga, etc.

For more information on how to utilize these techniques, please check my post on Stress and Your Health in General

 

Conclusion

Chronic stress is real, has damaging effects to our body, can put a road block preventing us from losing the extra weight, and living the quality life you so desire.

The hormone cortisol, which is secreted in response to stress, may lead to increased abdominal fat. This is particularly true in women with higher waist-to-hip ratios.

Let us not pay the high price, but take action Now.

 

Reference

Dallman MF, Pecoraro NC, La Fleur SE, et al. Glucocorticoids, chronic stress, and obesity. Prog Brain Res. 2006;153:75‐105. doi:10.1016/S0079-6123(06)53004-3

Epel ES, McEwen B, Seeman T, Matthews K, Castellazzo G, Brownell KD, Bell J, Ickovics JR.Psychosom Med. 2000 Sep-Oct;62(5):623-32. doi: 10.1097/00006842-200009000-00005.PMID: 11020091

Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., Melinda Smith, M.A., Robert Segal, M.A., and Lawrence Robinson. Last updated: May 2020.

Klatzkin RR, Dasani R, Warren M, et al. Negative affect is associated with increased stress-eating for women with high perceived life stress. Physiol Behav. 2019;210:112639. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2019.112639

Klatzkin RR, Baldassaro A, Hayden E. The impact of chronic stress on the predictors of acute stress-induced eating in women. Appetite. 2018;123:343‐351. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2018.01.007

Klatzkin RR, Baldassaro A, Rashid S. Physiological responses to acute stress and the drive to eat: The impact of perceived life stress. Appetite. 2019;133:393‐399. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2018.11.019

Warne JP. Shaping the stress response: interplay of palatable food choices, glucocorticoids, insulin and abdominal obesity. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2009;300(1-2):137‐146. doi:10.1016/j.mce.2008.09.036

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32 Comments

  1. Wow, this is phenomenal. I always knew that stress was bad but I di not realise the extent of it. I think that the traditional nine to five contributes to a person’s stress levels and working from home is a much healthier option. It is better for the environment too.

    • Hi Eco Catherine,
      Thanks for taking your precious time to read and commented on my site. You absolutely right 9-5 is what I called the modern slavery, especially the night shift job, and thats why the 1% don’t want to review the secret of we becoming our own boss, ensuring they continue to extract every ounce of blood, strength, and life from us. Sum it up, anything that produces stress beyond level will can take is bad bad bad…
      If you have the chance, please check out my next post for next week on sleep deprivation, one of the deadly poison that massively increase our stress level and intertwined with stress producing a viscous cycle.
      Have a great day.

      V/r
      Benson

  2. I think Stress has a great impact to our health, and mostly bad.
    Now, after reading your post, I’m starting to wonder how much stress I’m getting now.
    Because, I’m actually gaining weight– I used to go to gym, but after the outbreak, it became impossible to get out.

    I would try to follow your advice. And do some yoga or meditation at home and probably get myself back to excersing.

    How about you? How do manage your stress?

    • Hi Mina,
      Thanks for taking the time to read and commented on my post.
      What you experiencing is universal. The other day my wife was getting frustrated that despite are dieting and exercising she is stil not losing rather gaining. Please don’t tell her I said so, for I don’t want to be in trouble. LOL!!!
      For me, I’m currently experiencing the entire world stress put together after finishing medical school, massively in debts, can’t go to the gym or go running outside due to knee injury, started gaining weight etc., but I control my stress first by controlling my emotion of fear (seeing it as illusion) been that there is nothing I can do about it until my situation (mind psychology). Mostly, been a believer help channel my focus and hope that God will see me through. Not trying to preach using this method.
      Also, I do regular meditation at home (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction), go for walk regularly with my kids, and lastly focus on WA training.
      Have you try using essential oil/humidifier? Try the Yoga or meditation and let me know how if goes, if you need help structuring a plan activity for reducing stress let me know. Most importantly, focus on the supernatural.Everyone believe in something higher than themselves.
      Have a great day and I hope to see you soon.

      V/r
      Benson

  3. Hello Benson. I really enjoyed reading this article about stress and the effects to the body. It was very informative and thorough. I did not know that stress effected your weight so much. I have heard of cortisol but did not know what is was or how it affects the body. I am going to read more of your articles when I get a chance.
    Jason

    • Hi Jason,
      Thanks for stopping by despite your busy schedule. Absolutely, do some more research and let me know. It will be my pleasure to have you read my next posts coming up on sleep the other double edge sword like stress.
      Have a wonderful day.

      V/r
      Benson

  4. I’m so glad that you acknowledged the power of our creator. Maybe it’s not for everyone, but for me, my confidence in the Lord takes all the stress out of it. I know that He knows my name, and my life is in His control. So why worry? I seek His direction to do the right things, and then rest. Considering the world’s state of affairs, it is no wonder that people are losing their minds. They all need SOMETHING to hold onto for sanity’s sake.

    In the absence of that, what you’ve presented here is certainly helpful. I can tell that you are well trained in your field. I appreciate someone who is willing to make an effort to help others. May the Lord bless you in your effort.

    • Hi,
      Amen and thanks for taking the time and effort to read and comment on my post.
      I also sees that you are a believer, thanks for letting God’s words be the light of your path and to let you know that he has you and the entire world in his palm like you said in this time of uncertainty that our we should know that if only a single virus can crippled the world economy despite tech advancement, that alone should be the reason to lean on to something bigger(God) than us.
      Have a great day.

      V/r
      Benson

  5. Hi!
    This was very informative. I had not considered stress to be a bodily response and that it may actually also be a good thing, but given in excess it is of course damaging. Nowadays – and even before the pandemic hit – people lead incredibly stressful lives and sometimes we do not know when to put a stop to it, leading to burn out and other issues.
    When I stress, I tend to eat less, so I am in danger of losing weight which is not great either … but most women tend to overeat during stress, it is very true.
    When I work a lot, I make a point of taking breaks. Now that I am working at home, it is easier to do. When it is time for a break, I get up and go for a walk on my land, or I just go outside for a little bit or I take a seat in my hammock under my tree. It all helps. We must keep a balance.
    Excellent article! I am sure it will help many people.

  6. I did not realize how many ways stress can negatively impact us. You have provided great information on the importance of managing stress in our lives, as well as helpful tips on how to do just that. I can totally relate to “me” time, as that is so important for me to have. Thanks for sharing this valuable information.

  7. I’ve always known stress to be extremely bad for your health and this article has really nailed it. Like you mention, we all need a little bit of stress in our lives to ensure we function optimally, but the excessive stress we put ourselves through is something only humans do voluntarily.
    Thanks for bringing this to people’s attention!

  8. This is very informative and I like that you want to help people this is a really good site. I learned about my health and the thing that I could do better to improve my health. But this article is great

  9. Hi Benson,

    your analysis is really detailed, but even if it is very professional, it is very clear at the same time.
    I especially like the connection you highlighted between stress and weight. It definitively makes sense.

    Thank you for sharing.
    Have a great day,
    Andrea

  10. I got emotional reading your article on stress. As this issue is personal to me and I can so relate to it’s affects on body and mind. I feel better after I read it knowing that there is so much you can do to overcome this.

    Best wishes
    Rani

    • Hi Rani,
      Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read and comment on my post. I’m so sorry that I caused you some emotional pain through my post. Not the intention, but to create awareness of how stress can negatively impact people without knowing. Well, I’m very glad that you felt better after reading till the end. I wish you the strength to overcome and be able to control stress to a minimum benficial level.

      V/r
      Benson

  11. thank you so much. some times I feel stressed and frustrated of the people around me and I can’t controll it. can you give me advice please. You seem like you know a lot aboyt the topic.

    • Hi Ladia,
      First and foremost I want to thank you for confiding in me and be able to share what you going through. Which is the first and very important step to overcoming any struggle especially stress. You mentioned that you feel stressed and frustrated of people around you, which for me to give you a definitive plan, I will like to know exactly more. Like what are they saying or doing around you that get you upset.
      From my experience and study, is not really the people making us stress, but some other stressors that had built up for a while like for instance chronic sleep deprivation (not getting enough sleep for long) a major stressor, financial problems like struggling to pay the bills, sickness or other family struggling with their health, other occasion tension in relationship.
      My suggestion will be that you try pre-setting your mind every morning you wake up from bed, telling yourself that you will not let anyone or thing steal your joy. If you are religious, read scriptural chapters that help with stress. Because in reality, we can only make oneself angry if we allow what others do affect us. If you rely on others to determine your happiness, you will be disappointed almost 99% of time. So take charge of your happiness by ignoring what people think or say about you. Also, observe when your stress starting to build up; you will notice you get angry, irritated, losing focus or concentration. That is your clue, stop whatever you doing, go for a walk, swimming, take a deep breath for 60 seconds, or dance/listen to a relaxing music (your preference).
      Most importantly, if you think is beyond you (feel losing control), please seek professional counseling.
      Please give it a try, be optimistic, and let me know how it goes.
      I pray God give you the ability to control your stress just as Jesus calmed the storm.

      V/r
      Benson

  12. This is a universal problem these days. Many people have lost their livelihood because of COVID and are under tremendous stress. As if the other stresses were less, this COVID has come. I personally go through stress and face many symptoms out of those 10 that you mentioned, especially the sleep problem. Thank you for this wonderful article. This surely helps

  13. Benson,

    You’ve covered everything we need to know about stress. Thank you for sharing this.

    Stress can be a silent killer if we don’t address it as soon as possible. There are so many people out there who don’t realize how dangerous stress it if left unchecked. By sharing this article, I hope you can help to raise the awareness.

    The tips you’re giving to solve excess stress are pretty practical. I have a yoga app that I use to guide me if I do yoga by myself at home. Due to COVID19, I cannot go to the gym or go to my dancing classes to unwind and have some fun with friends.

  14. This is the first article I have read that mentions stress is good for you. It is true and stress becomes a problem when it becomes chronic stress. I know some people that over worry and it shows up as illness. It is hard for them to relax because they are taught to always worry about something: that there is something about to go wrong when life seems easy.
    Thanks for this great post. It is important to know that stress can help produce fat in the body. I wonder if the body stores the extra fat in case it needs energy to take flight in the near future.

    • Hi Greg,
      Thanks for stopping by and very interesting of what you said because I have heard also from couple of people. There are so much stressors already that anyone will want to worry for nothing during the short time of little to no stress. Life is too short.
      You are very welcome.

      V/r
      Benson

  15. Hi There,

    Indeed stress has a huge effect on our mind, body and soul. I have suffered myself after a nervous breakdown 18 years ago and it took me a long time to recover. I feel that whatever we try to lose weight, gain momentum and grow stronger we should always remind ourselves that it’s safer to do things slowly and in order of our body’s needs.

    • Hi Stephen,
      Truly appreciate you sharing something of personal nature. You absolutely right, we live in a society where we tend to look our life through the mirror of other people life. Trying to be like them or better, always comparing. I always tell people, life is an individual journey that need to be taken as a marathon, but never a sprint.
      Slow and steady win the race.
      Stay bless.

      V/r
      Benson

  16. I agree with you completely and think that the conventional business model needs a complete revamp. With the internet now there really is no need to be commenting miles to get to a job that we could be done remotely. The internet is the way forward. It leads to better results, less stress, and better health. It is also far better for the environment.

    Thank you for

    • Hi Catherine,
      Thanks for visiting my site and sharing your thought with us.
      Absolutely agreed, we need to move with the trend and do this more effectively as you mentioned.

      V/r
      Benson

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