Stress: A Factor in Abdominal Weight Gain
Stress can affect virtually any part of the body and produce physical, mental and emotional symptoms including allergies, dizziness, headache, heart palpitations, environmental sensitivity, impaired coordination, impaired immunity and weight gain.
In a healthy body, carbohydrates
are converted to glucose and a blood glucose
level of 60-120mg/dl is maintained without thought to the dietary consumption
of carbohydrate. In the glucose intolerant population, carbohydrates are readily
converted to glucose and the pancreas responds to this shift in blood sugar by
secreting an excessive amount of the hormone, insulin. Insulin’s job is to
remove the glucose from the blood stream and help it to enter the body cells. If
done properly, the blood glucose level returns to the normal range regardless of
the amount of carbohydrate consumed. If this system is not working correctly, a
quick rise in blood glucose followed by an over production of insulin occurs.
The excessive insulin is not recognized by the body cells so is unable to remove
the glucose from the blood stream. The result is an increase in blood insulin
levels, which has an
Weight gain is often associated with emotional eating and the
too-busy-to-exercise lifestyles of people under chronic stress. But researchers
are finding that changes in the body triggered by stress, such as elevated
cortisol levels, can cause insulin resistance and weight gain.
Under stress, the body excretes corticotrophin-releasing hormone and
adrenalin. This reaction stimulates the release of cortisol from the adrenal
cortex. In turn, cortisol, a glucocorticoid, stimulates glucose release into the
bloodstream, which, during periods of chronic stress, creates an excessive
release of insulin. Insulin, which is part of the endocrine system, is a
fat-storage hormone that overrides the stress signal from adrenalin to
burn fat. The
excess release of insulin gives the body the message to store fat in the
Consider the types of food women crave when stressed—carbohydrate-rich
and often sugary comfort foods. Stress drives the carbohydrate
cravings. This, combined
with the hyperinsulinemic (insulin resistance) state that many people are in,
creates the recipe for weight
gain. Chronic stress is a big piece to the
obesity puzzle that has 50
percent of people overweight and another 29 percent obese. French fries,
chocolate bars, and ice cream are some of the common comfort foods that people
gravitate towards and reach for when stressed.
The problem is not simply that people are eating too many carbohydrates and
thus if they starve their bodies of these foods they will become lean and
healthy again. The body needs carbohydrates for brain fuel, fiber and phyto-nutrients.
Rather, the metabolic dysfunction in processing carbohydrates needs to be
Learning Ways to Handle Stress
Write down your food intake
such as what foods you eat and quantities you eat when stressed. This can
be a helpful objective measure of what to cut down in future.
Develop health munching habits.
Talk about it.
Laugh it off
Plan and prioritize
Be kind to yourself
Thank God for all that you have
Nutrients to Handle Stress
Vitamins- especially B3,B6, B12. Recommended niacin(B3)
levels vary for a variety of age groups but fall between 25 and 100 mg/day.
The recommended dosage of vitamin B6 is usually 2050 mg/day. Vitamin B12 is
essential for nerve-tissue metabolism and is necessary for a healthy nervous
system because it nourishes the myelin sheath that insulates nerve
conduction. The recommended dosage of vitamin B12 is 100 mcg/day.
De-Hydro Epi Androsterone (DHEA)- The normal DHEA dose is 25-50 mg/day,
but doses ideally should be individualized because there is no established
RDI for this supplement.
Vitamin C- The most common vitamin C dose is 250 mg/day, but doses up to
2 g/day may be necessary.
Relora is a new agent developed by plant-based extraction from the
Magnoliaceae plant family. After the two weeks on relora, 80 percent said
they felt more relaxed, and 75 percent said that they had a more restful
sleep. This study is not yet published Recently, an independent research
firm commissioned by a relora manufacturer administered 50 dietary
supplements users with 23 capsules, each containing 200 mg relora, daily
for two weeks. The subjects were professional women who stated they lived
busy and stressful lives.
Panax Ginseg (Panax quinquifolium). The recommended dose of
ginseng is 200600
mg/day, standardized to contain at least 5 percent ginsenosides. As stress
support, ginseng is traditionally used in a regimen of three weeks on, two
weeks off. It may take several weeks for a clinical effect to become
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) root. The recommended dose of
is 450 mg, two to three times daily, standardized to contain 1.5 percent
withanolides per dose.
Rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), or Arctic root. Current accepted
practices suggest 50100 mg twice daily, standardized to contain 1 percent salidrosid or 40 to 50 percent phenylpropenoids per dose.
Holy Basil (Ocimum sanctum), also known as tulsi or sweet
accepted practice recommends holy basil doses of 400 mg daily, standardized
to contain 1 percent ursolic acid per dose.
Stress is a normal part of life. What really matters are how much stress,
what kind of stress, and ultimately how each individual handles the stress they
face. Long-term stress takes a physical toll because the body tries to find ways
to adjust to metabolic changes. If lifestyle modifications do not work—leaving a
stressful job, exercise,
meditation—then biochemical and nutritional factors may be useful.
Pharmacists can educate their customers about nutritional therapy and have a
lasting influence on their health.
Dated 13 April 2013