Ahhh, the “stress mess.”

The Stress Mess: How It Messes With Your Health

We all have some level of stress, right? It may be temporary (acute), or long-term (chronic). Acute stress usually won’t mess with your health too much. It is your body’s natural reaction to circumstances, and can even be life-saving. Then, when the “threat” (a.k.a. “stressor”) is gone, the reaction subsides, and all is well.

SO…It’s the chronic stress that’s a problem. You see, your body has specific stress reactions. If these stress reactions are triggered every day or many times a day that can mess with your health. Stress (and stress hormones) can have a huge impact on your health.

Let’s dive into the “stress mess.”

 

Mess #1 – Increased risk of heart disease and diabetes

Why save the best for last? Anything that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes (both serious, chronic conditions) needs to be discussed.

Stress increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes by promoting chronic inflammation, affecting your blood “thickness,” as well as how well your cells respond to insulin.

Mess #2 – Immunity

Did you notice that you get sick more often when you’re stressed? Maybe you get colds, cold sores, or even the flu more frequently when you are stressed?

Well, that’s because stress hormones affect the chemical messengers (cytokines) secreted by immune cells consequently, they are less able to do their jobs effectively.

Mess #3 – “Leaky Gut.”

Stress can contribute to leaky gut, otherwise known as “intestinal permeability.” These “leaks” can then allow partially digested food, bacteria or other things to be absorbed into your body. The stress hormone cortisol can open up tiny holes by loosening the grip your digestive cells have to each other.

Picture this: Have you ever played “red rover?” It’s where a row of children hold hands while one runs at them to try to break through. Think of those hands as the junctions between cells. When they get loose, they allow things to get in that should be passing right though.  Cortisol (produced in excess in chronic stress) is a strong player in red rover!

Mess #4 – Sleep Disruption

Stress and sleep go hand-in-hand, wouldn’t you agree? It’s often difficult to sleep when you have very important (and stressful) things on your mind.

And when you don’t get enough sleep, it affects your energy level, memory, ability to think, and mood.

More and more research is showing just how important sleep is for your health.  Not enough sleep (and too much stress) aren’t doing you any favors.

Stress-busting tips

Reducing stressors in your life is an obvious first step.

Can you:

  • Put less pressure on yourself?

  • Ask for help?

  • Say “no”?

  • Delegate to someone else?

  • Finally, make that decision?

No matter how hard you try, you won’t eliminate stress altogether. So, here are a few things you can try to help reduce its effect on you:

  • Deep breathing

  • Meditation

  • Walk in nature

  • Unplug (read a book, take a bath)

  • Exercise (yoga, tai chi, etc.)

  • Connect with loved ones

Conclusion

Stress is a huge and often underappreciated factor in our health. It can impact your physical body much more than you might realize.

Stress has been shown to increase the risk for heart disease and diabetes, affect your immune system, digestion and sleep.

There are things you can do to both reduce stressors and also to improve your response to it.

You can ditch that stress mess!

 

Recipe (relaxing chamomile): Chamomile Peach Iced Tea

Serves 1

1 cup steeped chamomile tea, cooled

1 peach, diced

Place both ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Add ice if desired.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: You can use fresh or frozen peaches.

 

References:

https://nccih.nih.gov/health/stress

https://www.thepaleomom.com/stress-undermines-health/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/good-stress-bad-stress

https://www.thepaleomom.com/managing-stress/

 

I specialize in supporting women just like you…focus on delicious foods that boost metabolism while eating with confidence and mindful intention!  Are you looking to enhance your healthy journey? Got questions? Need support? Join us here and add your “aha” moments…or your great recipes…or just hang out for support. Comment on things…share something that pops out to you. 

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Imagine Fit-Healthy Journey – Come one over!

 

I eat healthy and I haven’t changed anything in my nutrition but…

You are positive that you’re not eating more food or “junkier” food but you’re still gaining weight. Is this possible? Yes!  You are NOT crazy!

And here’s why….

We both know that the whole “calories in, calories out” argument is an overly simplistic view of weight. There’s definitely more to the story than just what you’re eating, right? A lot of this comes right down to your metabolic rate which is affected by things like your activity level, history of dieting, body composition, and even what you eat. But, let’s go beyond the “eat less and exercise more” advice and dive into some of the less obvious underlying reasons why you may be gaining weight even though you’re eating the same.

Things like:

  • Aging;
  • Hormones;
  • Sleep

 

Aging

Funny things happen the older we get.  People commonly experience lower energy levels, more digestive discomfort, weight gain, as well as aches and pains. Aging can result in hormonal changes for both men and women.  And these can contribute to loss of some lean muscle mass, as well as increases and changes in fat storage on our bodies.

The good thing is that, this is very common and not your fault one bit.

Hormones

Your thyroid is the master controller of your metabolism and can be a massive contributor to your weight gain.  There are several things that can affect it and throw it off course. When your thyroid gets off course and produces fewer hormones your metabolism slows down.  And when your metabolism slows down you can gain weight.  Even though you’re eating the same way you always have.

Pro Tip: Talk with your doctor about having your hormones tested.  Oh, and try the thyroid-friendly recipe that I created for you at the end of this post.

Sleep

There is plenty of research that shows the influence that sleep has on your metabolic rate. And as we age it can become harder and harder to get a good night’s sleep. The general consensus is to get 7-9 hours of sleep every night to help avoid weight gain. It’s true!  Lack of sleep is linked with weight gain. Who ever thought you can sleep off your weight?

Pro Tip: Try to get at least 7 hours of sleep every night.  The first place to start is by implementing a calming before bedtime routine. I also add in Serenity to my diffuser.  If you want more info on that jump on over here.

Stress

It seems to be everywhere!  So many things that can cause stress responses in your body. And you know that stress hormones are not going to help you sustain healthy habits or maintain a healthy weight, right? While you can’t necessarily change your stressors you can try to adjust your stress response to them.

Pro Tip:  Try meditation or yoga. Deep Breathing.  Or even mindful eating.  (check this out here) What about those new adult coloring books that are all the rage now?

Conclusion:

There are lots of factors that can affect your weight, even if you’re eating the same way you always have.  Aging, hormones, stress, and sleep are all interconnected to each other and can all contribute to weight gain, even if you’re eating the same way you always have.

 

Recipe (Thyroid friendly iodine): Seaweed Sushi Bowl

Serves 2

1 cut cooked rice

1 avocado (thinly sliced)

½ cucumber (diced)

½ red pepper (thinly sliced)

1 green onion (chopped)

2 tablespoons dried seaweed (arame, wakame, or crumbled nori sheets)

2 tablespoons sesame seeds

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

3 tablespoons gluten-free tamari sauce

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon sesame oil

½ garlic clove

dash salt and pepper

Split the first seven ingredients into two bowls.

Mix the rest of the ingredients together to make the dressing.

Pour the dressing over the sushi bowls.

Serve & Enjoy!

 

Tip:  This is a great lunch to take on the go.  Keep dressing in a separate container so you can give it a shake before adding it onto the sushi bowl.

 

References:

 

https://authoritynutrition.com/lose-weight-in-menopause/

http://www.precisionnutrition.com/sleep-stress-and-fat-loss

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