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How Stress Affects Belly Fat- An Analysis

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How Stress Affects Belly Fat- An Analysis
By David Grisaffi

Stress, along with diabetes, has rightly been termed a 'silent killer'. Stress causes deterioration in health and affects every part of the body. People, nowadays are more stressed out than their ancestors. The world has become so fast-paced that whoever does not keep up with the race gets left behind and no one would like that. In the process, health is the main casualty and one of the primary reasons for this, is stress.

Specifically speaking, stress and belly fat are co-related and by the following reasoning we can see how stress affects belly fat.

As one grows older, the metabolism of the body slows down and fat starts to accumulate around the stomach. Along with this natural ageing process, a sedentary lifestyle, bad eating habits and stress contribute to that belly fat. This fat, also called visceral fat is the most dangerous fat in the body. Since this fat is located behind the abdominal wall, it has the fastest access to the heart and other important organs of the body.

This abdominal fat is not content with simply resting on the stomach. It is very active, releasing substances into the organs which are very harmful to the body. Free fatty acids are released into the systems which impair the functioning of the body. Belly fat is bad for everyone but, it can have dire consequences especially for men. The amount of abdominal fat one carries is a sure indicator of heart disease risk.

Although behavioral response to stress is the main cause of weight gain, there are physiological reasons also. Under stress, the body lets go of a hormone called cortisol. In the body, the release of this hormone is a signal to increase appetite and store fat. This means that whenever we are stressed out, the hormone in our brain tells us that we are hungry while simultaneously instructing our fat cells to store as much fat as they can. Unfortunately, most of this fat is stored in the midsection.

In small amounts cortisol is essential for the body to control carbohydrate metabolism. But, too much of it spells doom for the body because it tends to cause a build-up of abdominal fat and this is how stress affects belly fat.

This hormone is also known as the 'fight or flight' hormone because of its ability in increasing blood pressure and blood sugar to help us run away from or fight a stressful situation. When anyone faces an adverse situation, the immediate response is to overcome it and this is propelled by cortisol. These responses use a lot of energy, so, cortisol simultaneously tells other important physical functions to either slow down or shut down. These functions maybe digestion, physical growth, reproduction, immunity and they combine to put fat on the stomach. Cortisol stimulates the production of fat contents in the stomach and this is how stress affects belly fat.

People who experience daily stress like work deadlines, family demands, traffic, less sleep, very strict dieting are more prone to falling prey to an increased waist line. If workplaces opportunities are increasing, stresses are also increasing side by side. When people get so consumed with their work that they start ignoring their emotional needs, then the stress hormone kicks in and conspiring with other factors contributes to weight gain in the abdomen. In these various ways we see how stress affects belly fat.

When we are feeling low and stressed out, our appetite increases due to the kick-start of the stress hormone which causes us to invariably reach for food without realizing whether what we are eating is right for us or not. If this happens often enough, gradually fat deposits start building up on the stomach and this is also how stress affects belly fat.

Stress can be controlled by meditation, yoga, good dietary habits, regular exercise and adopting a holistic approach to life. Having a calm and positive attitude in life is the biggest stress-buster and if this is adopted along with sensible eating and exercising there is no reason why the benefits of a fit stomach cannot be enjoyed!
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