High Cholesterol - Beyond Statin Medication

by Marcie Millar, RD, LDN, Cert in Herbal Medicine & DSHEA Law

Most of us, in our efforts to be at our best weight, have noticed that stress has an effect on our weight. Our weight can change with all that goes on in our often-stressful lives. Did you ever wonder why we tend to overeat or eat more of certain foods?

The primary cause is physical - your endocrine system to be exact. It is the system that runs your body's metabolism and influences chemistry in your brain. The stress response goes back to caveman times. It really has not changed in at least 50,000 years. Much has to do with survival from famine (stressful) and running from the saber-toothed tiger. (Extra stressful.)

If you were facing famine stress, your brain would tell you to eat more and make sure that you get plenty of sugar and fat so you don't starve. If you were being chased by that tiger I don't think you would stop for a snack, but when it was over and you were alive, you would be stressed out and needing comfort.

People under stress eat to calm themselves because food, especially sweets, pasta, breads, and chocolates boost calming chemicals in your brain. Eating becomes comfort and relief from the stress.

The endocrine stress explanation begins when your adrenal glands secrete cortisol and DHEA. High levels of hortisol boost blood sugar levels and promote body fat storage. The DHEA gets used up quickly. When it is low, more body fat is stored.

Connected to your adrenal stress response is a drop in thyroud function that lowers your metabolism. The metabolism boosting hormone progesterone drops with stress, drops further in permimenopause, and is gone at menopause. This equals, on average, a 2000 calorie boost to the waistline per month.

So, to be a healthy weight, learn ways to cope with stress. It is hard to escape it, but make time for exercise, a counseling session, seeing a nutritionist for a plan, meditation, yoga, music, gardening or arts and crafts... to calm your mind and manage your weight!