Struggling to lose weight?


A study published in Nature Medicine reports that when you are under stress, your adrenal glands produce a hormone (cortisol) that makes your fat cells swell, and increases the number of fat cells you have, as well.

Cortisol improves your body’s ability to manufacture glucose from protein, which helps increase the amount of energy available to you in a fight-or-flight situation. This is all quite normal, but when you are under constant stress, cortisol is released continuously, increasing glucose production. When there is an excess of glucose, it’s converted into fat, which is then stored. Your blood sugar is then lowered, which makes you cranky, and stimulates more cortisol production. Its a vicious cycle.

Not all people responStress might be the culprit.d to stress this way, and experts think there may be a genetic link. Ironically, stressing your body more by overexercising can lead to even MORE weight gain.

Of course, being overweight comes with a whole host of added health risks, from inflammatory heart disease to diabetes. And stress, emotional fatigue and anxiety have also been directly linked to chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, heart attacks, diabetes, arthritis, anaemia, etc.

Stress Cartoon

So what can you do about it? Taking care of body, mind and soul, seems to be the overwhelming answer from experts.

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet (to control your blood sugar levels), and supplement with a good, potent multivitamin (especially one that include vitamin C and chromium).
  • Identify aggressors in your life (things that make you anxious and insecure), and try to remove them before you focus on losing weight. Add stress-coping strategies to your lifestyle, even if its simply breathing deeply for 10 minutes a day.
  • Think about having monthly vitamin B injections.
  • Talk to your doctor about options for losing weight (which may include surgery, in extreme cases).
  • “Feed your soul”. Many complementary health practitioners believe weight gain is an emotional protective mechanism. Control your comfort eating. Maybe even see a psychologist to help with that (call the Mental Health Information Centre on 021 938 9229 for a list of shrinks in your area). If you choose to use alternative medicine, check with the Allied Health Professionals Council, which will be able to tell you if a specific person is a registered practitioner. Call (012) 329-4001 or visit www.ahpcsa.co.za.

Personally, I think I want one of those Power Plate thingies (said to reduce cortisol levels).

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Amanda is OIA's new IT person - in charge of all things technological, including the development of our new-look website. Oddly enough, she comes from a biochemistry background... go figure.
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