Reduce your stress

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Cortisol and DHEA are two hormones closely associated with health, sickness and weight gain. Whether eating to fill an emotional need or grabbing fast food simply because there’s no time to prepare something healthy, a stressed-out lifestyle is rarely a healthy one. But weight gain when under stress may also be at least partly due to the body’s system of hormonal checks and balances, which can actually promote weight gain when you’re stressed out, according to some researchers. Being sure your thyroid is working right is crucial for weight loss and labs such as TSH and T4 are good to do.

 If you eat too much of the high bad carb, sweet or salty and over-processed comfort foods then the hormone cortisol may be elevated in your system. Cortisol isn’t from the comfort foods but is produced by glands in your body. We produce cortisol as a way to stay hyper and on top of things, part of the flight and fight reactions we are hardwired to do. The problem with cortisol starts when we are stressed so often and for so long that we have no relaxation (sometimes called adrenal fatigue). This is where reaching for cupcakes, chips and sweets come in. Sort of a tasty treat to soften stress. Weight gain follows. Prolonged cortisol harms our brain and our immune and cardiovascular systems often raising inflammation. It also throws off the delicate balance needed by our hormonal system.

 DHEA is another hormone but is essential to our proper everyday health and functioning. Trouble is that DHEA plummets when cortisol levels increase. More stress, fatigue and disease follows. DHEA supplements are available and useful but I strongly suggest not using them until blood testing shows the need. If you supplement with hormones and you don’t need to, then your body typically stops producing your natural ones –– not good. Additionally, too much can be harmful as well. Fortunately, testing is easy, inexpensive and reliable.

 Stress reduction is the key. Doing so without medicines is the ideal but may not be practical. Rhodiola as a supplement is very good. Other choices are 5-HTP, ginseng, B-complex, high doses of vitamin C, Alpha Lipoic Acid, phosphatidylserine and my favorite Pycnogenol.