10 Reasons for Weight Gain - #8

(Not Understanding the Effects of Stress)

by

Veda Polk

9 Minute Read

Stress, these days, seems like a very present factor in our busy lives. So present that you might not actually be able to identify if your body is in a stressed state or not. The unfortunate truth is stress can kill us if it goes unmanaged for a prolonged period of time. I know that is an alarming statement to make but the good news is - we can learn to cope with stress and significantly decrease our stress levels. Honestly, eating healthy food and taking healthy actions is only half the equation to experience optimal health. The other half is being in the ideal state internally to digest and assimilate food. 


Not understanding the effects of stress has caused weight gain over the years. Stress is a state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or very demanding circumstances. It’s no wonder that most times the culprit to our stress is work, family responsibilities, etc. The thing is, the brain can not differentiate between real and imagined stress and our stress response is the number one factor that affects our digestion of food and life. 


Let’s take a dive into what is happening internally when our stress response is triggered.:

The Autonomic Nervous System stimulates enzymatic secretions to get the digestive process flowing and is also responsible for optimum nutrient absorption. It tells you body WHEN to digest and has the power to turn on and off your digestion. It is able to turn on and off your digestion by the two separate systems: the Sympathetic Nervous System (Fight or Flight mode) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (rest and relax mode). Our “fight or flight” mode turns off digestion so you can run fast and think quickly and our “rest and relax” mode turns off stress responses and turns on our digestion. 


Within our Parasympathetic Nervous System, the hypothalamus is what physically activates the stress response in the body. When this happens, the hypothalamus triggers specific hormones that provide immediate energy (adrenaline, cortisol, noradrenaline (helps to break down fat and increase blood sugar levels to provide more energy to the body)) to be released in greater quantities. Your body also increases your: 

  • Heart rate
  • Blood pressure
  • Respiration   - and - 
  • Blood flow to your arms and legs (which decreases blood flow to your digestive system)


In short: your digestive system is no longer in the ideal state to digest and assimilate food and your body is not supporting optimal functionality. And when this happens, you experience side effects such as:

  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Muscle Weakness
  • increase the risk for hypertension, heart attack, or stroke


Again, there is a way to help our bodies cope with stress. As mentioned before, we can’t completely get rid of it but we can significantly decrease the stress in our body. 


Healthy Food + Healthy Lifestyle choices

P L U S

  Ideal State for digestion // assimilation

        E Q U A L S

   The best health ever


When we eat natural, minimally processed foods, focus on creating healthy lifestyle changes and BREATHE we are setting our body up for optimal functionality with our digestion. Did you know that if you breathe for 2 minutes (think deep breathing exercise) you can switch your body from the “fight and flight” mode to the “rest and relax” mode? That’s it. Just breathe for at least 2 minutes. It seems so simple but the funny thing is - because we breathe subconsciously all the time for our survival, we never think about stopping to smell the roses. Give it a try! Take breathing breaks during the day to help recenter, refocus and relax your body, mind and spirit.