Deal­ing with stress, and the ap­petite that comes with it

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LIVING - By LeeAnn Wein­traub Spe­cial to Dig­i­tal First Media

With the re­lax­ation of sum­mer days now a hazy mem­ory and school and work sched­ules in full swing, you might no­tice your stress lev­els are up.

Peo­ple strug­gling with chronic stress from dif­fi­cult life cir­cum­stances or trauma are es­pe­cially neg­a­tively af­fected by stress. Un­for­tu­nately, stress takes a ma­jor toll on not just the mind, but the body and could even be sab­o­tag­ing your best ef­forts at a healthy life­style.

Un­der­stand­ing how stress works and what to do to man­age it bet­ter can help you stay bal­anced through the ups and downs of life.

There’s no doubt that stress can have an ad­verse im­pact on ap­petite and eat­ing habits. Short-term stress causes the adrenal glands to re­lease the hor­mone ep­i­neph­rine, re­duc­ing ap­petite as a part of the body’s fight-or-flight re­sponse.

How­ever, if stress or the per­cep­tion of stress con­tin­ues the body re­leases an­other hor­mone called cor­ti­sol, which in­creases ap­petite. Cor­ti­sol is at least partly re­spon­si­ble for the stress-in­duced crav­ings that re­sult in overeat­ing high-sugar and high-fat foods.

Once cor­ti­sol lev­els fall, ap­petite re­turns to nor­mal. Though, if stress lev­els re­main high, cor­ti­sol and its phys­i­o­log­i­cal reper­cus­sions can per­sist.

Stress dis­rupts the body’s func­tion­ing on a cel­lu­lar level, but the re­la­tion­ship be­tween stress and hu­man health is com­pli­cated. Re­searchers are look­ing at how chronic stress im­pacts the body’s abil­ity to reg­u­late in­flam­ma­tion. Chronic stress has been linked to in­flam­ma­tory con­di­tions such as de­pres­sion, heart dis­ease and in­fec­tious dis­ease.

A re­cent study pub­lished in Molec­u­lar Psy­chi­a­try found that un­der­go­ing stress­ful events seems to negate healthy eat­ing prac­tices. The re­searchers looked at how in­take of sat­u­rated fats and un­sat­u­rated fats af­fected in­flam­ma­tory mark­ers in the con­text of stress. Although those who con­sume health­ier un­sat­u­rated fats have less in­flam­ma­tion, after with­stand­ing stress­ful events those who ate the health­ier fats fared no bet­ter than those con­sum­ing sat­u­rated fats.

Although this may seem like a li­cense to in­dulge when life gets tough, and more stress-re­lated re­search is needed, this is ev­i­dence that those liv­ing with chronic stress are at higher risk of harm­ful in­flam­ma­tion and are in se­ri­ous need of an anti-in­flam­ma­tory, nutri­ent-dense diet.

METRO CRE­ATIVE

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