Ten ways stress can cause Diabesity

DiabesityStress causes both obesity and diabetes. It also makes it hard to lose weight. Stress is one of the most important – yet most often ignored – factors driving the Diabesity epidemic. Most people only think of psychological stress when they hear the term 'stress'. When asked what causes stress, they might say things like losing a job, having a fight with your partner, driving in traffic or getting audited by the Taxation Department. But stress is also caused by physiological challenges, such as:
  • insomnia
  • chronic infections
  • inflammation
  • autoimmune disease
  • environmental toxins
  • dieting
  • too much exercise
Even if your levels of psychological stress are pretty low, any of the conditions listed above can provoke a chronic stress reaction in your body. Chronic stress can make you both overweight and diabetic.

10 ways stress can make you overweight and diabetic

When stress becomes chronic your adrenal glands release a hormone called Cortisol. Cortisol is normally released in a specific rhythm throughout the day. It should be high in the mornings when you wake up, as it helps you get out of bed and start your day. It should gradually taper off throughout the day so you feel tired at bedtime and can fall asleep. Recent research shows that chronic stress can not only increase absolute Cortisol levels, but more importantly it disrupts the natural Cortisol rhythm. And it’s this broken Cortisol rhythm that wreaks so much havoc on your body. Among other effects it:
  1. raises your blood pressure
  2. makes it harder for glucose to get into your cells
  3. makes you hungry and crave sugar
  4. reduces your ability to burn fat
  5. causes hormonal imbalances including DHEA, testosterone, growth hormone and TSH levels
  6. makes your cells less sensitive to insulin
  7. increases abdominal fat
  8. leads to fatty liver
  9. increases your rate of fat storage
  10. raises the level of fats in your blood
Each one of these consequences alone could make you overweight and diabetic, but when added together they’re a perfect recipe for Diabesity.

Our bodies aren’t made for chronic stress

Whilst we are set up to handle short term stress pretty well, our bodies have not evolved to deal with chronic stress, and it is this type that is so destructive.

What? Exercise less?!!

It’s not uncommon to encounter someone who eats well and exercises hard, but cannot lose weight. These people need to exercise less if they want to lose weight and recover their health. What they may not realise is that Cortisol is a catabolic hormone. It breaks down body tissues. While this might sound like a good thing for those trying to lose weight, it’s not. Muscle tissue is metabolically active and actually helps you lose weight by burning fat. A reduction of lean muscle tissue may drop a few kilos in the short-term, but it will predispose you to weight gain in the future by impairing your metabolism. So if you’re struggling with weight or blood sugar control, don’t diet, get plenty of sleep and take it easy with exercise. You’ll be a lot better off.

Stay tuned for more to come…

Check out the Diabesity story so far and catch up on each instalment below

See also Part 1 of our series The Modern Day Health Epidemic that you should know about See also Part 2 of our series Diabesity: Myths that kep you sick See also Part 3 of our series Diabesity and Inflammation See also Part 4 of our series Diabesity: How come I’ve got Type 2 Diabetes? I’m not fat!!! See also Part 5 of our series Diabesity: Not all Diabetics are Obese See also Part 6 of our series Diabesity: How modern lifestyles affects your metabolism See also Part 7 of our series Diabesity: The major triggers – What you need to know