4 Health Messes You Didn’t Know Stress Can Cause
So you think stress only leads to heartache and anxiety, and makes you feel terrible emotionally (and of course makes you cry too)? Think again! Your stress could be making you sick in many, many ways and exacerbating your existing health conditions. And while that is happening, you might be beating the wrong bush, trying to find solutions for your health issues.
1. Weight Gain
Excess fat in the belly seems to pose greater health risks than fat on the legs or hips, and unfortunately, that's just where people with high stress seem to store all the wrong food they eat - a terrible double whammy!
Stress trouble: This the gift that stress hormones bestow because stress leads to higher levels of the hormone cortisol and that leads to deposition of fat in the midriff area that leads to a thicker waist.
How to tackle it: Get some sun and fresh air every day and also walk barefoot for some time (called grounding) as that helps cut stress levels. Stick to eating a healthy anti-inflammatory diet that is full of low-glycemic fresh vegetables, healthy fats and quality proteins. Dark chocolate also helps keep cortisol levels stable.
2. Pre-Diabetes and PCOD (Often Leads to Diabetes)
There is a direct connection between stress and both these insulin malfunctioning disorders.
Stress trouble: Stress, without doubt, is a harbinger of unhealthy eating and excessive or binge drinking. Secondly, stress leads to rise of glucose levels which eventually can lead to insulin resistance that mostly shows up as PCOD or pre-diabetes. In fact, even those who are already diabetic need to be careful too, as stress seems to raise the glucose levels of people with type 2 diabetes directly.
How to tackle it: Switch to good fat. It will feed your brain so you feel better, and it does not raise insulin, and keeps your stress hormones tamed. Focus on flax seed, coconut oil, ghee, olive oil, nuts and seeds. And keep sugar and refined carbs intake in check to keep insulin in check.
3. Stomach Issues
Our stomach can get affected very badly due to chronic stress, often leading to leaky gut syndrome, chronic heart-burn and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Plus even though stress doesn't cause ulcers (unlike universally believed), it can make them worse.
Stress trouble: Chronic stress raises stress hormones, which damages the gut lining over time. In fact, any hormonal imbalance can cause leaky gut as the intestines depend on proper hormone levels for good function. Imbalances in estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, thyroid hormones, and stress hormones all contribute to leaky gut and other stomach issues.
How to tackle it: Omega-3 is known for its ability to combat inflammation, so include flax seeds and fatty fish in your diet. Probiotics deliver good bacteria which will help to restore the balance of your gut flora, so, eat more fermented foods. Finally, increase the glutamine (amino acid) consumption in your diet; it has the ability to heal soft tissue like the lining of your intestines. Spirulina and cabbage are good sources.
Also Read : 7 Ways to Tame Your Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Stress and asthma have a direct connect and these attacks actually have a name – anxiety asthma.
Stress trouble: When stress levels start to creep upward, whether it's over bills, work tensions, office deadlines or relationship troubles, asthma symptoms can kick into overdrive and the wheezing and coughing can get worse.
How to tackle it: Besides changing your thoughts and keeping a lid on stress, it also helps to cut off junk food and refined sugars. These are low in nutritional value and high in calories and can leave you low in energy and sluggish. Don’t depend on sugar, caffeine and alcohol to curb stress as these may make the asthma symptoms worse.
(Kavita is a nutritionist, weight management consultant and health writer based in Delhi. She is the author of Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People (Jaico) and Ultimate Grandmother Hacks: 50 Kickass Traditional Habits for a Fitter You (Rupa).)
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