Many of us deal with weight problems on a regular basis. Everywhere an individual goes, and looks, there are advertisements on how to lose weight, and become healthier as a result. The ultimate goal and end objective of any weight loss regimen should be to become healthier overall. Dysregulation of blood sugars cause multiple health problems in addition to metabolic issues. This paper will address several health related questions and the corresponding articles from which the information is derived.
The hormones implicated in the weight gain response of some individuals when stressed are adrenaline, norepinephrine, epinephrine, CRH, and cortisol. Initially, adrenaline kicks in to help address the issue in a fight or flight response. Next, “cortisol, known as the “stress hormone,” hangs around and starts signaling the body to replenish your food supply” (Greenberg, 2013). The stressors that trigger these hormones are anything that causes us stress on a day to day basis. They vary from how we are going to pay our bills, to getting poor grades, to being yelled at by a boss, or even having an upcoming exam. Anything that causes an individual to worry or become upset or anxious could trigger this hormonal response.
“Cortisol directly effects fat storage and weight gain in stressed individuals” (Maglione-Garves, Kravits, & Schneider. n.d.) As a response to stressors, more cortisol is created, thus increasing appetite and fat storage. According to Greenberg, this is because our ancestors, years ago, would have stress from being without food, or being attacked, and would in turn need to store more fat for survival. At this point it essentially just makes individuals more overweight as we are no longer needing the extra fat storage and energy for hunting for our food. When individuals are stressed, they tend to look for comfort foods, which are typically high in sugars and fats. By binging on these types of food when an individual is stressed, they tend to store more fat, and it is more difficult to lose this weight that is gained as a result.
According to Michael Randall, in his article in the Dartmouth Undergraduate Science Journal, the pathway in response to stress is a bit more complex, and different than the previous articles. According to this author, CRH is transported to the anterior pituitary, where corticotropin is secreted, which in turn increases the production of corticosteroids, such as cortisol. Vasopressin increases the reabsorption of water by the kidneys and in turn increases blood vessel constriction, which in turn activates the hypothalamus gland. “In sum, the hypothalamus releases CRH and vasopressin, which activate the HPA axis. CRH stimulates the anterior pituitary to release corticotropin, which travels through the bloodstream to the adrenal cortex, where corticoptropin then upregulates cortisol production” (Randall, 2011). The stressors that influence the relationship between cortisol and insulin are any situations that occur in which an individual does not respond appropriately.
There are different health risks that occur in the relationship between cortisol and insulin. Some of which are a lowered immune system, thus making an individual more susceptible to illness and disease. Decreased thyroid function, accumulation of abdominal fat which could lead to cardiovascular problems, and lower levels of general health. The health risks are generally the same when associated with stress, although the author of the above mentioned article does duly note that stress can also be beneficial when it enables someone to work harder toward their goals. The key is to embrace the stress and utilize it as a tool to push for better.
Stress can have very negative effects on the body. Our reactions to stress are ultimately the deciding factor as to how harmful the stress will be on our bodies. If we are unable to handle and deal with the stress effectively, our blood pressure will rise, we will binge on junk food, and we will store fat. We will gain weight which will turn into cardiovascular problems as well as thyroid issues. We will raise our blood sugars, which will also potentially lead to great illness, and we will ultimately suffer our long term and short term health as a result. All articles reviewed indicate stress and diet as the factors of these health issues.