Stress, Inflammation, and Weight Gain – by Lisa Johnson, RD

How often do you say, “I am so stressed?” It is becoming our most common catch-phrase. And, not just amongst adults, but youth too. We live in a stressful world, and that takes a toll on us. In addition, stress always leads to compromised health, and that adds more stress. So we need to take stress seriously and do what we can to combat its effects.

Did you know stress creates chemical and nutritional changes in your body? Did you know these lead to higher blood sugars, increased inflammation, increased risk for all diseases, and weight gain? Compound that with impaired sleep and you have a double whammy! Sadly, all of these statements are true.

Stress causes inflammation via several pathways. One, it inhibits your body’s ability to convert fats into anti-inflammatory omega 3s. The result is more pro-inflammatory chemicals being released. Second, it impairs sleep and increases your appetite and cravings for comfort foods. Third, it impairs digestion leading to more inflammation and weight gain, as well as painful acid reflux; and fourth, it raises cortisol leading to sweet cravings, higher insulin, and weight gain. Is stress worth it? I say no! So if stress is part of your life, do whatever you can to reduce it. Here are three simple steps to get started:

Stress-free Habits and their Health Benefits

  1. Exercise – This reduces stress, lowers insulin, burns fat, and Improves sleep.

2. Eat Nuts, Seeds and Fatty Fish – These provide B6 and zinc which help your body handle stress, and omega fats which lower inflammation.

3. Limit Sweets – These contain trans fats which increase inflammation. They also raise insulin which increases inflammation                                       and causes weight gain.

Notice how these three steps are related to the Mediterranean Diet which has stood the test as the best eating plan for reducing inflammation and risk for chronic disease. Following these steps has multiple benefits:

* Exercise improves mood, self-image and cardiovascular health.

* Eating more nuts, seeds, and fatty fish means eating fewer inflammatory fried foods like chips and saturated-fat rich meats.

* Avoiding sweets and sweet drinks means more water and nutritious treats like fruit and yogurt.

Check out the Mediterranean Pyramid below and see how these 3-steps can help you comply with this proven plan to reduce stress, lower inflammation, and lose weight today.

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