How Stress & Metabolic Health are Connected

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Stress and Metabolic Health

Is stress inflicted on us against our will, or is stress something we have chosen?

You may say, “I didn’t choose to lose my job, ask my husband to drink excessively, or for my children to be so terribly disobedient”. We may not always be able to do much to eliminate the stressful things in life (the stressors), but we can modify the way we react to these influences. We can choose to either let them continue happening, put an end to it, or we can choose how ‘accepting’ we will be to those things we simply cannot change. Real wisdom is knowing which things we can change and which things we can’t, then taking action appropriately.

When we have not made this decision in advance our reaction to stressors can cause serious chemical disturbances in our body, triggering negative emotional eating, drinking, or drug habits and also cause serious hormonal damage to our metabolism.

Stress and weight gain


Cortisol and metabolic weight gain

This stress reaction triggers our life-saving ‘fight or flight’ response that involves cortisol, a hormone manufactured by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is the key hormone of the stress response.

Cortisol causes our reactions to be fast-tracked for a brief period of time necessary for escaping danger. All energy is directed to the senses of sight and hearing and to the muscles of arms and legs, also this response causes our digestive processes to stop functioning. With our modern lifestyle, ongoing stress can cause us to be in a state of constant ‘fight or flight’ and cortisol release. The trouble for the overweight person is that cortisol also inhibits fat burning, digestion, and blood sugar regulation. (4)

Patients with abdominal obesity have elevated cortisol levels. Furthermore, stress and glucocorticoids act to control both food intake and energy expenditure. (3)

Studies show chronic stress arising from experiences of discrimination may promote the accumulation and retention of excess weight via the effects of cortisol on fat deposition and food intake. Chronic exposure to physical and psychological stressors increases the deposition of visceral fat. Cortisol activates glucocorticoid receptors, which are densely concentrated in visceral fat depots. When insulin is present, cortisol promotes the storage of triglycerides in visceral adipose tissue resulting in increased abdominal fat. (1)

One study showed that childhood obesity has been associated with cortisol production dysregulation. Findings suggest a positive association between obesity in young girls and elevated cortisol concentrations, measured in saliva and hair. (2)

Learning about how your mind works, practicing meditation and physical activity will all help you cope better with stress. Just to remind you once again, you do have a choice. Don’t let stress get the better of you. Make the decision to change the situation or accept it, but don’t delay.

See my other articles for further reading on self-help methods:

While we’re on this topic I thought we should talk about how our emotions affect our weight?

Emotional eating

In recent years, emotional eating (EmE) has incited substantial research interest as an important psychologic determinant of food intake and overweight. (7)

Higher emotional eating has been associated with higher consumption of energy-dense snacks and, in particular, with consumption of sweet-and-fatty foods across most categories studied. However, these associations were stronger in women with depressive symptoms. (7)

Our lives are often an emotional roller coaster and with stress affecting us daily, we develop emotional eating and drug/alcohol/comfort food habits, all with negative side effects. Eating is meant to be a pleasurable experience, involving socializing, music and rest.

The time allowed for food preparation and eating should ideally be several hours daily. Instead, we live in a world of fast food, eating under strict time constraints and TV dinners. The emotional experience of eating can be very healing if it is nurtured and valued highly.

Table manners, respect for food, and good cooking practices need to return to our daily rituals. If we feed ourselves emotionally then our craving for ‘junk food’ drops away. This way we can make food an emotionally nourishing experience rather than an emotional escape or, for some, a cause of guilt.

We have established there is a link between stress, cortisol, and weight gain, but there is also a connection between stress and bad eating habits. We need to go at it from both angles.

Dining table

The association between weight loss and emotional eating was less strong for employees with high engagement in strenuous sports compared with those with low engagement in strenuous sports. This indicates that strenuous physical activity can indeed attenuate the positive association between emotional eating and body weight gain. (5) In other words, sporting activity improves the mood and reduces bad eating habits.

Burying emotions with food, alcohol, and drugs develops into the same pattern of addiction, producing only negative results; while properly nourishing ourselves helps resolve and strengthen these areas of weakness, and eating after physical activity will produce happiness and a positive appetite.

Chronic stress is often accompanied by anxiety, depression, anger, apathy, and alienation. Individuals in negative affective states have been shown to favor the consumption of instantly rewarding foods high in sugar and/or fat, whereas intake during happy states favors less palatable food. (6) This means relaxing before eating is going to encourage the consumption of healthy food.

It’s no wonder that music, conversation, and a drink before eating have become part of our food culture.

The key is to bring that positive food culture into your daily routine, no matter what the situation.

Healing From Stress

As we discussed above, stress can be a choice. We choose to construct a worldview from the experiences we have and we react to future events in our lives accordingly. 

Ultimately we are all on earth to go through the same process, to heal ourselves, learn, grow, progress, and then to help others to do the same. This includes mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. What we experience physically are just pointers to that deeper healing process. These physical signs help to direct us on our personal healing journey.

Self-healing should be considered as a lifelong process as our body, heart, mind, and spirit have the ongoing task of growth and learning to work together harmoniously.

The Four Ultimate Healing Secrets 

Check out my 4 Ultimate Secrets to healing yourself below. Each of these is powerful alone, but combined you can really be the master of your stress levels. 

First Secret
Keep it simple “Complexity invites dis-ease while simplicity brings peace and health to the body and mind” Read full article

Second Secret
Health is a State of Peace “Health is a state of peace found when the body, mind, and spirit resonate in perfect harmony. You deserve to feel that peace.” Read full article

Third Secret
“What you are is a sum of the parts that make you. If those parts are pure, clean, colorful and alive, then so will you be” Read full article

The Fourth Secret
“Energy simply moves from one place to another” The first law of physics is the law of conservation.  “Energy can neither be created nor destroyed; rather, it transforms from one form to another.” All we really need to do is create some space for our energy to move.  Read full article

Using these principles you can encourage healing, which includes balancing your metabolism and managing your stress levels controlling weight as a natural by product.

See the Full Unconditional Energy Healing Series Here

The Three Ultimate Nutrients
Accessing energy from food is important, but so is tapping into other pure energy sources, including what I call the Three Ultimate Nutrients. These have been largely overlooked by nutritionists and dieticians and yet they are actually the most important. Read more about these here How you can tap into pure energizing nutrients and receive their healing power.

The Caduceus
The caduceus is often used as a sign of medicine. One tale suggests that the Greek god Hermes saw two serpents entwined in mortal combat. Separating them with his wand he brought about peace between them, and as a result, the wand with two serpents came to be seen as a sign of peace. Health can also be seen as a sign of peace within oneself.

caduceus picture


Typical detox, weight management, and healing programs don’t address the underlying causes from a psychosomatic (body-mind) perspective. If you want to gain the absolute best result possible then applying the principles above will give you every opportunity.

I hope these articles have been helpful and would love to hear about your results.

Brett Elliott ®

Read more on the subject of Self Healing Here

Self healing

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