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Heather Morgan
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Heather Morgan

Does this stress make me look fat?

Hello Sonoma, it's time I let you in on a little secret. It's not the clothes that are making you look fat, it's all the stress. It may come as no surprise to you that stress has an effect on your health, but did you know that chronic stress can also make you fat?

Here's the skinny. The body responds to stress by engaging certain hormones, often referred to as "stress" or "fight or flight" hormones. These hormones are your friend when you are running from a tiger or needing to fight for survival, however, in today's fast-paced, highly-stressed world, we call upon these hormones regularly in our daily lives. That response can have adverse effects on our health, and our waistline.

Stress, the new normal.

You may have heard of cortisol, which is the primary stress hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands. Cortisol is your friend and helps you respond to stressful situations when needed, but many people have either too high or too low cortisol due to chronic daily stress. The physiological response to stress can be brought on by many different things including eating foods the body is intolerant to, toxic exposure form chemicals in both our indoor and outdoor environment, being overwhelmed with too many things to do, inappropriately exercising for our metabolic needs, poor or lack of sleep, even negative thinking or bad relationships. Any of these factors can trigger a physiological response to stress causing the body to secrete cortisol.

Adrenal stress eventually has an effect on its sister glands, the thyroid, and the sex glands, which can set off a cascade of hormonal dysregulation in both men and women. So if your thyroid is off, you most likely need to be supporting your adrenals, because stress is likely at the root cause, and eventually, the adrenals can become tired and worn out. This results in low cortisol, which can make you very tired, and specific neurotransmitters called catecholamines start to compensate to help you get by, which can result in a feeling of being tired and wired. Excessive belly fat is also a result of this hormonal dysregulation. Stress affects many other body functions including immunity, digestion, nutrient absorption and depletion, and much, much more.

So what do we do about it? Start with getting your hormones, adrenals, and metabolic functioning tested. The best way to get an accurate understanding of how your hormones are functioning is to see an integrative, or functional practitioner, such as an integrative MD, or a naturopathic doctor. They test and approach stress physiology from more of a root cause and whole body perspective. I have seen my clients have great, life changing results when stress physiology is approached in an integrative way.

So what do we do about it? Start with getting your hormones, adrenals, and metabolic functioning tested. The best way to get an accurate understanding of how your hormones are functioning is to see an integrative, or functional practitioner, such as an integrative MD, or a naturopathic Dr. They test and approach stress physiology from more of a root cause and whole body perspective. I have seen my clients have great, life changing results when stress physiology is approached in an integrative way. To learn more about stress physiology prevention, listen to my radio show on KSVY 91.3 Tuesdays at 2pm here in Sonoma, or stream us live at www.sonomasunfm.com. Also reach out to me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/bodytalksonoma. Be well! Yours in health, Heather
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