Weight Management & Stress

Dr. Peny Kendall-Reed explores the role of stress in maintaining healthy weight.

Stress contributes to one of the most dangerous and growing conditions in North America, obesity. In a society where 65% are overweight and 31% are clinicaHPA_axislly obese, chronic stimulation of the HPA (Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal) axis can be viewed as one of the most dangerous risk factors for our health. Cortisol inhibits the release of Leptin, the hormone that reduces our appetite after a meal, and “jump starts” our metabolism, resulting in a reduction of our metabolic rate from approximately 98% to 35%. It also triples the release of insulin in response to specific carbohydrates such as grains, fruits, and sugars, directing the body to essentially treat one apple like 3 apples, or one piece of bread like 3 slices.  The majority of this fat storage from food will be deposited around the abdominal region where white fat cells have three times the number of cortisol receptors on their surface. To make matters worse, CRH (Corticotropin-releasing hormone) and cortisol block the production and binding of both serotonin and dopamine. This combination of imbalanced hormones destabilizes mood and stimulates food cravings.

Hormone Health Series (Adrenal Fatigue, Menopause & Understanding Your Hormones)

Stress is unavoidable, which makes stress management important for maintaining health.  Rocky Mountain Analytical has developed a series featuring gynecologist Dr. Kristy Prouse, and naturopathic doctor  Dr. Sharon Gurm along with RMA’s own Dr. George Gillson who talk about what you need to know for hormonal health.

All three parts can be found here:  http://rmalab.com/hormone-testing/wowtv-hormonal-health-series  (click the link)

Everyone experiences stress at times, but how well we cope with stress depends on a number of factors, one of which is hormone balance.  The body’s experience of stress is carefully mapped out by a series of hormone responses.

Fight or Flight

In an extremely stressful situation, the body releases bursts of the hormones cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline to prepare for a “fight or flight” response. High levels of cortisol free up stored energy to help the body physically resist or flee from physical danger.

Modern-Day Stressors

Unlike the physical stressors of past centuries, our modern-day stresses tend to be less dramatic, but of longer duration. This means that cortisol levels may stay mildly elevated, resulting in symptoms like feeling tired but wired, difficulty sleeping, and anxiety. Excess cortisol also interferes with the action of other hormones (progesterone, testosterone and thyroid), creating more hormone imbalance and more symptoms.

Low Cortisol

With continued stress, the adrenal glands may become depleted from producing too much cortisol or may reduce cortisol production significantly in response to the detrimental effects of high cortisol.

Symptoms of low cortisol may include fatigue (particularly morning fatigue), increased susceptibility to infection, decreased recovery from exercise, allergies, low blood sugar, burned out feeling, depression and low sex drive. Other adrenal hormones can be affected, particularly aldosterone and DHEA. Low aldosterone may result in reduced sodium and potassium levels. Symptoms of low DHEA are not well defined, although low DHEA is often associated with chronic illness.