Hello SOTGC community,
There is a lot of talk in the media these days about the stress hormone known as cortisol. The stress in our lives triggers increased production of cortisol in the body, which affects appetite, food cravings and a cascade of systems that in turn affect the rate at which we burn fat.
We could be exercising regularly, but if the stress hormone level is elevated, it can interfere with our ability to lose weight. Additionally, the “fat” hormones adiponectin and leptin affect how efficiently we burn fat. Imbalanced levels of these hormones, then, impact weight loss as well. If there is a blockage in these fat-burning signaling mechanisms, it doesn’t matter how many miles we log on the treadmill, our fat may not be burning.
And since cortisol can cause us to crave certain foods during certain times of the day, that means food cravings may not always be a discipline issue.
Also important is that what we eat in our daily diet can affect pH. Other factors impacting pH include how fast we ingest our food, whether we are sitting down for our meal or eating on the go, mindfully chewing versus inhaling, etc. Alterations in pH affect our gut flora, throwing off the balance between protective and harmful bacteria. This imbalance, known as dysbiosis, can interfere with our ability to digest and absorb appropriate nutrients from our GI tract. Malabsorption and low-grade inflammation can occur, causing a condition called “leaky-gut syndrome.” This can lead to nutrient deficiencies that may in turn affect our food cravings.
After undergoing long stretches of stress and poor eating habits, it will likely be more difficult for our bodies to clear toxins. The toxic burden on the body then impacts all the above systems as well.
A “pro-inflammatory” state can be created when we overload on carbohydrates or on processed foods and sugars. We typically crave these when we are stressed and producing large amounts of cortisol. Inducing a pro-inflammatory state can contribute to a reduction in our fat-burning capacity.
Today, more and more people are developing food allergies. In addition to gluten sensitivity, other barely noticeable (subclinical) reactions to food allergens can trigger a pro-inflammatory state in the body that can hamper fat-burning mechanisms.
It is clear that living with stress can affect the body in many ways, including our ability to burn fat efficiently. In the next installment, we’ll review lifestyle nutritional approaches to eating for health and managing stress to lower cortisol levels.
Photo credit: www.thehealthymind.com