Stress is bad. It has a negative effect on almost all of our body functions and it makes our bodies weak by lowering our immunity. It is the leading cause of high blood pressure and heart attacks. A recently-conducted study yielded another negative effect of stress—it is making us gain more weight.
One would think that stress will make him or her thinner because he or she rarely has time to eat or rest well because of work or anything that causes stress. However, the study conducted by researchers from the University College London in the United Kingdom which involved 2,527 men and women found out that those participants who have BMIs of 30 or higher, also considered as obese, have higher cortisol concentration.
Cortisol also called as “stress hormone”, is produced in the adrenal glands and activates that part of our brains that controls fear, motivation, and mood. When in a stressful situation, cortisol sends glucose to the bloodstream to help the body manage the situation. In the case of chronic stress, a higher amount of cortisol is produced affecting metabolism, body composition, and body fat accumulation.
Participants’ cortisol levels were measured using hair samples. It was chosen because it provides both current and past information as opposed to blood and urine, which can only provide a reading for the current status.
Hair samples from thinner participants yielded lower cortisol levels.
To manage stress, one has to engage in relaxing activities such as yoga and meditation to refresh the mind. Spending time with loved ones, reading books, or watching movies can also lower stress levels. Choose books and movies with light, feel-good topics as other genres might be more stressful for you.