Is stress making you fat and sick?
Whenever we're not feeling 100 per cent happy with ourselves, we often take a moment to take stock of our lives and think about any improvements that could be made. And although this sometimes involves focusing on our relationships and work, it’s our health and weight that tend to steal all our attention.
But before you start pounding the pavement and guzzling down green smoothies in an attempt to get lean, it’s worth taking a look at your stress levels. Because keeping them in check might just be the key to a healthy mind and body…
5 IMPORTANT HEALTH FACTS ABOUT STRESS
#1. Stress impacts your body more than you realise.
“Stress impacts the body in so many ways,” says Cassie Mendoza-Jones, nutritionist, naturopath, herbalist and founder of Elevate Vitality. “It namely causes inflammation, which can cause gut issues, joint pain and mild depression, but it can also lead to adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, sugar cravings, anxiety, panic attacks and insomnia.”
#2. Stress can contribute to weight gain.
“Stress elevates the hormone cortisol, which packs fat onto the mid-section and blocks fat-burning,” explains Cassie. “Feeling stressed also influences our energy levels, which then influences our decision-making.” This means you’re more likely to opt for a high-sugar snack option come 3pm when you feel exhausted, instead of picking a more healthy option like fruit and yoghurt. “Stress also affects sleep, and sleep is important when it comes to balancing energy levels and sugar cravings, which can then lead to weight gain.”
#3. Stress can bring on certain illnesses.
“High stress and the resulting high inflammation is linked to many diseases such as heart disease, anxiety, adrenal fatigue, poor immunity, chronic fatigue, depression and insomnia,” explains Cassie.
#4. Stress levels can be lowered through diet.
“Slow down, be kind to yourself, eat a wholefood diet that is low in processed foods, meditate, practise yoga and get enough sleep,” says Cassie. It’s also important to nourish your stressed nervous system and improve your body’s ability to adapt to stress. “B vitamins, magnesium and vitamin C are also important here. You can find these in good supplements, as well as in leafy greens, wholegrains such as oats, brown rice and sourdough bread, brightly coloured fruits and vegies, nuts and seeds.”
#5. Regular exercise can reduce stress.
“Any and every type of exercise is good for stress,” maintains Cassie. However, if you love a particular type of workout, you’re more likely to participate in exercise, which will help reduce stress hormones and improve your mood and energy. “Long walks and yoga are specifically really important, and including meditation in your daily life is also wonderful.”
Do you suffer from stress? Did you know stress had such a negative affect on the body? Will you be aiming to lower your stress levels in the coming months?