When your body has been exposed to some kind of stress it reacts by producing cortisol. This so-called stress hormone is secreted by adrenal gland, and may be induces by some physical as well as emotional stress.
It alerts the body, creating the reaction which is also known as “fight or flight” response. As the part of this reaction, cortisol increases blood pressure and glucose in the blood and restrains immune system. Cortisol also regulates the metabolism of carbohydrates and fat and the production of insulin in the human organism. It is also responsible for the decrease of inflammation and healing of damaged tissue in the body.
What’s the Relation between Weight Gain and Cortisol?
Adrenal glands respond to the stress producing and releasing adrenaline and cortisol. Weight problem occurs when the body is exposed to constant everyday stress, since their adrenal glands keep producing cortisol all the time. Cortisol, on the other hand, increases the blood glucose levels and that might cause many health issues. Indigestion, sleeping difficulties, skin problems and memory issues are all associated with the increased level of cortisol. Weight gain is also one of these potential problems.
People experiencing increased level of cortisol due to the stress have constant urges to eat carbohydrates. Their body craves for carbs to compensate for the physical tiredness. Exercise is a great way to relieve these symptoms, but most people rarely engage in any physical activity. Instead, they reach for carbs which usually lead to weight gain, specifically around the stomach. There is something about the fat cells around that area of the body, and they are more sensitive to cortisol. Because of that, people tend to buildup the fat around the belt area, which has been proven to be the most dangerous kind of fat you could have. Metabolic syndrome, diabetes mellitus and heart problems are scientifically found to be most likely to occur in people with this kind of fat distribution.
Healthy diet, proper and regular physical activity and enough sleep should be enough to lower the level of cortisol in the blood, prevent the weight gain and decrease the stress you are experiencing on a daily basis. Herbal, mineral and vitamin supplements might also be very helpful.
Other Causes of Cortisol-Related Weight Gain
Cushing ’s syndrome is also caused by the increase level of cortisol, but it is not stress induced. In most cases, Cushing’s has been linked to the use of steroid medications, or tumors occurring on adrenal gland, pancreas, lung or pituitary gland. Tumors are usually not cancerous, but they cause the raise in level of blood cortisol and may lead to weight gain in patients suffering from them. Alcoholism, depression, panic attack or even obesity may present symptoms similar to Cushing’s syndrome.