How Stress is Keeping You From Losing Weight

If weight gain isn’t the result of too many calories and too little movement, what is the cause? The top theories include a diverse number of reasons, including:

* Environmental toxins
* Sugars, especially fructose
* Shift work and other causes of insomnia
* High levels of stress
* Noise pollution
* Electromagnetic fields

Many of these may not seem to be obvious causes of weight gain. How could invisible chemicals or loud sounds cause people to pack on the pounds? The one common thread among all of these factors is that each changes adrenal hormones in ways that lead to weight gain. Why is that?

Survival Mode
All mammals are able to control their body weight, even when their food intake goes up or down by a bit. All mammals are also able to gain weight without eating more food when preparing for hibernation or when threatened by famine. “Survival mode” is the phrase given to this storage reaction, and it happens to us too.

When we’re not in survival mode, our main stress hormone, cortisol, has a healthy daily rhythm. The adrenal glands put out a big burst of cortisol in the morning, and as the day goes on they make less and less of it. When things like toxins, noise and stressors send us into survival mode, the timing of cortisol production gets thrown off. When cortisol timing changes, the energy in the bloodstream gets hijacked by the belly fat and is used to enlarge the fat cells.

Once we realize weight gain is a preparation for famine, it becomes clear why eating less food seldom leads to lasting fat loss. When you go on a new diet, your food intake goes down. If your body is already in a state of getting prepared for a food shortage, this only makes it worse.

Stress and Obesity

Even though long-term weight loss won’t happen from pushing yourself harder, it will happen from comforting yourself more effectively. Rather than the old standbys of diet and exercise, the new solutions look more like:

* Meditation
* Yoga
* Regular sleep
* Probiotics
* Journaling
* Detox and cleansing
* Time spent in nature
* Massage

Healing the Cortisol Cycle
All of these solutions can help heal the cortisol production cycle, and this is the ticket to lasting fat loss. The only bad thing about these new solutions is that they take time, and many people just don’t have enough time for the things they already have on their plates.

A simple diet has been shown to heal the same cortisol cycle all by itself. It works because good carbs like squash, buckwheat and navy beans can effectively lower cortisol. Since it’s good to have higher cortisol in the morning and lower cortisol at night, you can eat these carbs into the evening and reset the rhythm.

A group of 42 volunteers tested this diet and showed that, in as little as 30 days, the hormones of fat storage can be fixed [1]. In the study, participants lost an average of nine pounds of fat, and many lost three to five inches around their waists. Other findings: Unlike with typical diets, participants gained energy, had improved sleep quality and noticed greater mental focus.

If your weight has been a struggle, please don’t think that you’re weak-willed or lazy. Once you understand that stress hormones drive weight gain, it becomes clear that feelings of shame and self-doubt by themselves may make the problem worse. Understand that the modern world is full of famine triggers and that your body is just doing what it can to protect itself. The way to being lean and energized comes not through more extreme deprivation, but from more effectively honoring and comforting yourself.


Does Sodium Intake Affect Mortality and CV Event Risk?

Sodium intake may not be associated with mortality or incident cardiovascular events in older adults, according to a study published Jan. 19 in the JAMA: Internal Medicine.

In the Health, Aging and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study, initiated in 1997, researchers assessed self-reported sodium intake from 2,642 Medicare beneficiaries, ages 71-80 years old. Participants were excluded for difficulties with walking or activities of daily life, cognitive impairment, inability to communicate, and previous heart failure (HF). At the first annual follow-up visit, researchers recorded food intake as reported by participants, specifically examining sodium intake. After 10 years, 34 percent of patients had died, while 29 percent and 15 percent had developed cardiovascular disease and HF, respectively.

The results of the study showed that there was no association between participant-reported sodium intake and 10-year mortality, incident HF or incident cardiovascular disease. Further, there was no indication that consuming less than 1,500 mg/d of sodium benefitted participants any more than consuming the recommended amount (1,500-2,300 mg/d). However, the study showed a slight potential for harm when participants had a sodium intake of greater than 2,300 mg/d, especially in women and African Americans.

The authors note that while the food frequency questionnaire used by participants at the first annual follow-up has limitations in its accuracy, “self-reported adoption of a low-salt diet was not associated with significantly higher risk for [any] events.” They conclude that moving forward, there is a need for further research and stronger evidence in order to create better recommendations for older adults.

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