You may lead a healthy lifestyle with a proper diet but still, end up gaining weight. This is why we need to intervene on the link between stress and obesity. Gut Health coach, Janvi Chitalia elaborates.
Do you feel you are gaining weight even though you are following a good lifestyle regime? Do you feel that a good bout of exercise is strenuous for you than energising? Do you feel that your sleep pattern is disturbed and you feel tired in the morning? Do you feel that your clothes are getting tighter and you seem to feel more bloated even though you follow a healthy diet?

If the answer to all the above questions is yes, it is time to look beyond a new exercise routine and a new fad diet for good results. It is time to look at your stress levels to answer why you are not seeing results in your body’s growth and weight.

There are four perspectives to look at the link between stress and obesity and the underlying root cause for this imbalance in a person. Here are the causes explained elaborately by integrative gut microbiome health coach and functional nutritionist, and founder of Body Cocoon, Janvi Chitalia.

Adrenal lockout

When a body has been chronically stressed for a long period of time, the adrenal glands run out of their cortisol storage levels of which could be very high and then do a backflip leading to a situation where there is adrenal burnout known as adrenal fatigue. When the body is stressed, it releases adrenaline (stress hormone), the function of it is to mobilize energy in the form of glycogen via the liver and muscle tissue.

When there’s no available energy reserve, the body begins releasing excess cortisol to begin and breaking protein and fatty acids to be converted to glucose for energy.
This is a stress-adaptive, survival mechanism for the body, which is a normal response for the body when it finds itself out of reserve or in danger.

The cycle of weight gain starts as the day to day fight for energy for function comes from the use of fat and protein and as energy is through the release of stress hormones, keeping one completely trapped in a vicious cycle of chronic breakdown and inflammation in the body.

Sleep and recovery matrix

It is also often linked that people with chronic stress and worry often also tend to report issues with sleep due to adrenal fatigue. Waking up at two and three am and then finding it difficult to sleep back again, leading to less sleep especially in the physical restorative sleep part of the cycle, compromised recovery and repair of the body and thereby inability for to its normal functioning. A compromised system affects the immune system, can affect digestion, assimilation, nutrient absorption and then metabolism. Good quality sleep is essential for weight control.

Sugar salt cycle

It is interesting to learn that there is truly a connection between stress and an extreme urge to turn to sweet or salty foods, due to the body’s need for energy, which is due to less transportation of energy available to the powerhouse of the cells which are the mitochondria.

When these are low, they cause the physiological need for salt and sugar in the body. The easiest and quickest antidote to stress is sugar (cake, candy, or alcohol cravings) along with a little salt (pass the chips, please) which is why these are the two biggest cravings and also why sugar is an addiction and so is with salty snacks. It is also because the body just keeps feeling depleted of
glycogen or sodium due to this phenomenon. Constant calories from sugar and processed food would lead to weight gain.

Gut Thyroid connection

When the thyroid functioning is affected, it can reduce the conversion of inactive thyroid to active thyroid and also cause the potential gut syndrome, leading to food sensitivities and weight gain and water retention. Thyroid and metabolism have been long associated with weight gain.