Are Your Stress Hormones Haywire?

Last week we addressed one of the main causes for weight gain; STRESS HORMONES.

The major stress hormones are Adrenaline and Cortisol. Some stress is healthy for us. For example when we perceive a threat, the hypothalamus in your brain sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, your adrenal glands release hormones to help your body react to the threat. These hormones increase your heart rate, blood pressure and energy output so you can respond to the threat. Also, this system communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear. So, even thoughts of general fear can cause this relay of hormones through out the day.

However, if you are in a constant state of stress and survival this activation and overexposure can disrupt almost all your body’s processes.

Let’s look at the hormones in relationship to food and belly fat. Insulin is a hormone that most people are familiar with regarding to food and relationship to your blood sugar.

Your body releases insulin whenever you eat foods that result in sugar entering your bloodstream. Insulin works by stimulating your cells to sponge up this excess sugar out of your bloodstream. Once inside your cells, sugar is used for energy, with any excess amount being converted to fat tissue. However, many people trigger this response too frequently and their bodies become insulin sensitive or resistant.
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Leptin is another hormone made by adipose tissue and is secreted into the circulatory system, where it travels to the hypothalamus. Leptin tells the hypothalamus (hmmm, the hypothalamus came up with cortisol and adrenaline too) that we have enough fat, so we can eat less or stop eating.

When we were living off the land this was our body’s way of survival. Feast and famine. The more fat you have, the more leptin you make; the less food you’ll eat(store it for the winter). Conversely, the less fat you have, the less leptin you have, and the hungrier you’ll be.

However, there has been a development of leptin resistance. You can have a lot of fat making a lot of leptin, but it doesn’t work. The brain isn’t listening. Your brain might even think you’re starving because it senses there is not enough leptin, so it makes you even hungrier or a feeling of being unsatiated and wanting more. That is why food you never crave or eat sounds good all of a sudden. The body and the brain or trying to communicate but not doing it so well.

The only way to eat less in the long-term is to not be starving and too hungry, and the only way to do this is to control the hormones that regulate hunger, the primary one being leptin.

As I was researching this topic, one thing came up for me. I like being hungry, I get excited to plan my meals and nourish my body. So instead of trying to outsmart leptin, I created this mantra: I am leptin efficient…Try saying it a few times through out the day or while you are preparing your food. Let your body do its magic.

We are leptin efficient,
Heather Fleming, C.C.N 🙂

Thanks to CollegeDegrees360 for the stressed photo!