Are You Constantly Stressed? This Is How Chronic Stress Harms Your Health and Physique
Stress is such an important and relevant topic nowadays, so I thought that why not share my knowledge about it. All of us confront stress sometimes, some more often then others, each and every one of us in a different manner, but stress is inevitable at times. Therefore, it's an important topic to discuss. So, let's talk a little about stress, eating, weight and gut health!
What is stress?
First and foremost, let’s make one thing crystal clear. There are two types of stress, the so called “good” and “bad” stress. Good stress could be defined as a temporary situation from which your body can recover quite easily. It can even enhance your performance, for example in a test situation. Then there’s the bad stress, stress that has continued for a long period of time, and from which your body cannot recover as easily. It can be caused by e.g. work, studies or a difficult situation in life. This long lasting, bad stress is the cause of the health problems which will talk about very soon.
Fat gain and unhealthy cravings
Next let’s check what physiologically happens in your body when it’s exposed to chronic stress. Firstly, neuropeptide Y is released from the brain, causing our appetite to increase and fat storage to happen more easily. Another signal molecule, called cortisol, is constantly released, causing a boost in food cravings and the release of another molecule, ghrelin, which controls hunger. When your ghrelin levels are up, you feel more hungry, despite having eaten or not. All these effects happening simultaneously for a long period of time will most likely lead to weight gain.
When we’re feeling more hungry from the effects mentioned above, we’re most likely to go towards quick, fatty and sugary foods/snacks. Eating these fatty and sugary foods will activate the dopaminergic pathways and the reward system, causing us to feel pleasure from eating. Easily this stress, eating unhealthily and feeling rewarded from it, creates a vicious circle.
Gut bacteria and the development of a child
To add one more interesting thing into this post, let’s talk a little about gut bacteria. Stress has plenty of harmful effects, and it’s not doing any good to the gut flora either. We need all the good bacteria in our guts to work in digestion and they also play an important role in our immune system. When the microbiota is developing, and the little human being exposed to stress, it obviously has negative effects on the gut health. When being exposed to stress, the composition of bacteria will diminish and the permeability increases, which allows pathogens to have an easier access to the body.
What to do?
I’m not an expert giving advice to avoid stress, I do stress a lot myself as well. Therefore, I’m only going to give you one simple thing to think about. Focus on your mental health, taking care of yourself should always be your number one priority. You cannot take care of anyone else unless you’re being taken cared of, by yourself.
Have a stress-free weekend!