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 clinically 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.