Do You Know that Stress Can Make You Fat?

Did you know that stress causes you to gain weight?  I know that might seem obvious if you are a stress eater who tends to overeat when you are dealing with stressful situations.  I am not talking about stress eating, which is overeating causing extra calories and extra pounds.  I’m talking about the stress hormones causing chemical reactions that increases the fat cells in the abdominal region as known as trunkal weight gain.  This happens as a result of stress hormones called cortisol which sets off a cascade of chemical reactions that result in creation of fat cells around the internal organs of your abdomen, which negatively impacts your long-term health. While most of us as women don’t want to look at fat, it is actually more important that we acknowledge where we accumulate fat on our bodies.  The fat tissue develops around the internal organs of the abdomen which gives you the muffin top that make you look and feel fat.  The extra fat that accumulates around the waist can be an indicator of stress levels.  The increase of fat around the belly robs us of our health and vitality and puts us at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes or metabolic syndrome.

When we are stressed, our body releases stress hormones, cortisol and epinephrine.  Epinephrine is released and has a very short time span in our body.  When cortisol is released its effects can last much longer and cause adverse effects over a long period of time.  Under non-stressful conditions, our cortisol levels should be highest in the morning causing us to wake up for the day and then decline with a small spike in the afternoon followed by another decline until they are at the lowest levels around 10:30 in the evening.  However, when we are under chronic or long-term stress, our cortisol levels will be elevated during the day, and this higher level of cortisol causes us to store fat around our waist or mid-sections.  Healthy waist sizes for women are below 35 inches while healthy waist sizes for men are below 40 inches.

So what should we be doing if we find out waist line is over the healthy limit?  Managing our stress isn't just good for our mental health, it is necessary for our physical health too.  We need to develop a stress management plan as part of our fitness or healthy eating plan.  Stress management tools can include activities like exercise, relaxation techniques or deep breathing.  You might be surprised that the foods you eat can be part of your stress management plan too.  If you want ideas for foods that will help you with stress, then check out my Stress Busting Recipes download. It can help you maximize your meals while reducing your stress at the same time.

Live Vibrantly,

Dr. Dae

[box]Check out the Dr. Dae's Stress Busting Recipes ebook  download for ideas about how to cook up these Stress Busting Foods [/box]

Taking The Anxiety Out Of Heart Health Lab Testing

Since February is American Heart Month, it is an excellent time to talk about blood tests related to heart health. It is important not to look at only one test but instead to look at what the combination of tests tell you about your health and risk of heart disease.

This will be a two-part article. In this first blog I will talk about the more traditional tests, the ones that tend to be covered by insurance companies. In the next article I will talk about some newer tests that are now being used specifically for heart disease.

A lipid panel is at group of tests that give information about our cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Here are the tests you would find in a lipid panel.

Total cholesterol levels are the sum of cholesterol content in your blood.

  • Normal cholesterol should be below 200 mg/dL.
  • High cholesterol is above 200mg/dL.

Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol acts as a shuttle carrying cholesterol from the liver to the tissues. High levels of LDL can accumulate as fatty plaques and block the arteries. LDL is often referred to as bad cholesterol.

  • Optimal LDL level are less than 130 mg/dL.
  • High LDL levels are above 130 mg/dL.

High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol acts as a shuttle carrying cholesterol from the tissues and back the liver to dispose of it. This keeps the arteries open and flowing. HDL is often referred to as good cholesterol.

  • Low levels are less than 60 mg/dL.
  • Normal levels are be 60 mg/dL.
  • High levels are above 60 mg/dL.

Triglycerides are another type of fat found in the blood. While triglycerides are created in the body they also come from foods you consume. When you consume more calories than your body needs it can cause your triglycerides to be high.

  • Normal levels are less than 150 mg/dL.
  • Borderline high levels are 150 - 199 mg/dL.
  • High levels are 200 - 499 mg/dL.
  • Very high levels are 500 mg/dL or above.

To read the entire article Taking The Anxiety Out Of Heart Health Lab Testing

Raising Awareness for Women & Heart Disease - Wear Red!

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Friday, February 7, 2014 is the 10th Annual National Wear Red Day.  Join in the fun.  Here is an article I wrote last year about this great awareness day.

Do you think you are seeing Red today? You are!!!  February 1 is National Wear Red Day sponsored by the American Heart Association.  The purpose of National Wear Red Day is to raise awareness about heart disease in women.  It is a fact that 1 in 2 women will be affected by heart disease and 1 in 4 women will die of heart disease.  Many women are not aware that heart disease in the most common cause of death for women in the United States. Ten years ago National Wear Red Day was created to address this important health concern.  Go Red for Women became a social initiative to empower women to learn about heart health.  It allows women come together as a collective group to take charge of their health and learn about their risks for heart disease, and to find tools to help them reduce heart disease risk.

Here are factors that play a significant role in the development of heart disease specifically in women:

  • Metabolic syndrome is a combination of at least 3 symptoms: abnormal lipid panels, high blood pressure, high blood sugars and trunkal obesity.
  • Depression can cause difficulty in following the recommendation to create a heart healthy lifestyle.
  • Smoking seems to be a greater risk factor for women and heart disease.
  • During and after menopause women produce less estrogen which is a protective hormone for the heart.  The reduction in estrogen increases the risk of heart health.
  • High cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes all increase the risk for developing heart disease.

In addition to sharing the risk factors, I will spend the month talking about lifestyle behaviors that can reduce your risk and make you more heart smart.  During the month of February take a few minutes to learn at least one new fact about heart health.  It can save a life of a women or man that you know and love.

For more information you can go to http://www.goredforwomen.org/.

Live Vibrantly,

Dr. Daemon Jones

Dr. Dae

Sources:

"Heart disease in women: Understand symptoms and risk factors - MayoClinic.com." Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2013. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/heart-disease/HB00040.

"How Does Heart Disease Affect Women? - NHLBI, NIH." NIH Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2013. .