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More Evidence Linking Stress to Obesity

Using hair to measure long-term levels of the stress hormone cortisol, UK researchers confirm the link between chronic stress and packing on pounds, as well as difficulty shedding excess weight.

Previous research has tied high levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the blood, urine or saliva to obesity, but these measurements can vary based on factors like the time of day and don’t capture long-term stress levels, the study team notes in the journal Obesity.

“When people are facing a stressful situation, a chain reaction is set off in the body that results in the release of cortisol, leading to higher levels of this hormone in the body,” said lead study author Sarah Jackson of University College London.
“Cortisol is involved in a broad range of biological processes, including metabolism, body composition and the accumulation of body fat,” Jackson said by email. “When we’re stressed out we may also find it more difficult to find the motivation to go for a run or resist unhealthy foods.”

Stress sets off alarms in the brain that trigger the nervous system to release hormones to sharpen the senses, tense the muscles, speed up the pulse and deepen breathing. Commonly called a flight or flight response, this biological reaction helps us defend ourselves in threatening situations.

Isolated or temporary stressful situations may not be harmful, but routine exposure to stress can lead to immune system problems, heart disease, nervous system complications and mental health disorders in addition to obesity.

For the study researchers examined data collected from men and women aged 54 and older taking part in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Participants underwent tests every two years starting in 2002, and during the sixth wave of the study they provided a hair clipping.

The study team tested cortisol levels that accumulated in the hair over time in 2,527 men and women and found that participants with more cortisol in their hair were also more likely to be obese or have lots of excess fat around their midsection.

Researchers looked at cortisol levels in the two centimeters of hair closest to the scalp, which typically represents about two months’ growth. They also looked at weight, waist circumference and body mass index (BMI), a measure of weight relative to height.

Participants who were classified as obese based on their BMI or waist circumference had particularly high levels of hair cortisol, the study found. Analyzing weight and body fat data from assessments in the four years prior to when the hair clipping was taken, researchers also found that obesity tended to persist over time for the people with the highest cortisol levels.

The study wasn’t a controlled experiment designed to prove how stress directly impacts cortisol levels or weight gain.

Other limitations include the primarily white, older adult study population, which means results may be different with younger people or other racial or ethnic groups, the authors note.

Even so, the findings add to growing evidence linking stress to obesity, said Dr. Susan Fried, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York.

Cortisol is released in response to many stresses, Fried, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. Chronically high cortisol is thought to promote fat accumulation around the waist and increase the ability of fat cells to store fat.

The fix for stressed out people looking to shed excess pounds isn’t clear from the study results, however.

“I don’t think there is strong evidence or consistent studies showing stress reduction itself causes weight loss,” Fried said. “There is accumulating evidence that sleep is very important; people overeat when under-rested.”

The findings do suggest that people may need to take a holistic approach to weight loss that goes beyond diet and exercise to consider factors like stress, said Dr. David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut.

“You might think you need to improve your diet, or exercise more, and that’s true,” Katz, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email. “But for you, the first priority might be to manage stress better so you are more capable of doing those things, and reduce a hormonal barrier to weight control into the bargain.”

By Lisa Rapaport   Reuters Health
 
SOURCE: bit.ly/2kX4fQk Obesity, online February 23, 201.     www.reuters.com


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Fun Fact Friday

  • People who enjoy helping others and or spending money on others tend to be less stressed, happier and live longer.
  • Extroverted people are likely to overlook typos and grammatical errors that would cause introverted people to negatively judge the writer. 
  • Studies show those who don’t eat breakfast, or eat it only sometimes, are twice as likely to be overweight as those who eat two breakfasts.

 

  • Women cry on average between 30 and 64 times a year, while men cry between 6 and 17 times.
  • Left-handed people tend to have more emotional and behavioral problems than right-handed people.
  • Listening to music at high volumes can make a person calmer, happier and more relaxed.
  • The more stressed you are, the slower your wounds and illnesses heal.
  • A recent study shows that exercise alone doesn’t help with weight loss. It’s your diet that should be the main focus.
Happy Friday  🙂
 
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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Is Stress Making You Fat? Science Finds a New Link

Feeling frazzled all the time may raise your risk for obesity, researchers say.

Sure, your life is bananas. And maybe you feel like you can manage it all just fine. But here is a powerful reason to pencil in some me time: Feeling stressed for months at a time can up your risk for obesity, according to scientists from University College London.

Their new study used hair clippings to measure levels of the stress hormone cortisol in people’s bodies. Hair samples provide more accurate hormonal data than other types of samples, the authors say, making their findings some of the strongest yet to suggest that stress and weight are closely linked.

For the study, published today in Obesity, the researchers collected locks from more than 2,500 men and women over a four-year period, and analyzed them for accumulated levels of cortisol. (The samples were cut as close as possible to the scalp, and represented hair growth over about two months.)

The researchers also recorded participants’ weight, body mass index (BMI), and waist circumference over time. And they noticed a clear connection: People who had higher levels of cortisol in their hair tended to rank higher on all three physical measures, as well.

In fact, people classified as obese based on their BMI (30 or greater) or waist circumference (greater than 102 centimeters in men or 88 centimeters in women) had particularly high levels of cortisol in their hair.

These findings support previous research that suggest that high stress levels can trigger unhealthy habits—like losing sleep and eating “comfort food” high in sugar and fat. Other studies have shown that cortisol levels can affect metabolism and fat storage in the body, implying that weight gain could potentially occur even if a person’s behaviors don’t change.

But most studies have relied on measurements of cortisol in blood, saliva, or urine—which can vary depending on situational factors and time of day. The relatively new technology of measuring hair cortisol provides more accuracy for long-term cortisol measures, say the authors, and strengthens the existing research.

stress-eat

The association between cortisol levels and waist circumference is particularly important, says lead author Sarah Jackson, PhD, a research psychologist in the department of Behavioral Science and Health, since carrying fat around the midsection is a known risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and early death.

The authors noted that their study participants were all 54 and older and mostly white, and pointed out that the study’s findings may not apply to a younger or more diverse group of people. They also can’t say which came first: obesity or elevated cortisol levels.

Susan K. Fried, PhD, professor of medicine, endocrinology, diabetes, and bone disease at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, said in an email that it’s possible that obesity could trigger higher stress levels. The study’s cortisol measurements reflect exposure over a couple of months, “but the obesity in the people studied likely developed many years earlier,” says Fried, who reviewed the research but was not involved herself.

“Thus, these high hair cortisol values may simply reflect social or biological stress associated with being obese,” she says. For example, stigma and medical conditions associated with being overweight (such as high blood pressure and arthritis) could both cause stress over time.
Jackson agrees that this is a possibility, but says it can’t hurt to be aware of how stress might influence weight gain: “I think the take-home message from our study is really to try and maintain awareness of healthy lifestyle habits during times of stress.”

“When we’re stressed out we may find it more difficult to find the motivation to go for a run or resist unhealthy foods, and that’s when it is easier for weight to creep on,” she says. It could also be helpful to identify ways to reduce exposure to stressful situations, she adds, or to find ways of coping with stress that don’t involve food.

If further research is able to identify a cause-and-effect relationship—that is, show that stress and cortisol levels are directly responsible for fueling weight gain—it could lead to new ways of using stress reduction to prevent and treat obesity, says Jackson.

 By Amanda MacMillan      February 23, 2017
 


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10 Practical Ways to Handle Stress

Stress is inevitable. It walks in and out of our lives on a regular basis. And it can easily walk all over us unless we take action. Fortunately, there are many things you can do to minimize and cope with stress. Here are 10 ideas for handling stress without causing more strain and hassle.

1. Figure out where the stress is coming from.

Oftentimes, when we’re stressed, it seems like a big mess with stressors appearing from every angle. We start to feel like we’re playing a game of dodge ball, ducking and darting so we don’t get smacked by a barrage of balls. We take a defensive position, and not a good one at that.

Instead of feeling like you’re flailing day to day, identify what you’re actually stressed about. Is it a specific project at work, an upcoming exam, a dispute with your boss, a heap of laundry, a fight with your family?

By getting specific and pinpointing the stressors in your life, you’re one step closer to getting organized and taking action.

2. Consider what you can control—and work on that.

While you can’t control what your boss does, what your in-laws say or the sour state of the economy, you can control how you react, how you accomplish work, how you spend your time and what you spend your money on.

The worst thing for stress is trying to take control over uncontrollable things. Because when you inevitably fail — since it’s beyond your control — you only get more stressed out and feel helpless. So after you’ve thought through what’s stressing you out, identify the stressors that you can control, and determine the best ways to take action.

Take the example of a work project. If the scope is stressing you out, talk it over with your supervisor or break the project down into step-wise tasks and deadlines.

Stress can be paralyzing. Doing what’s within your power moves you forward and is empowering and invigorating.

relatedThe Easiest Way To Kill Stress And Tension

3. Do what you love.

It’s so much easier to manage pockets of stress when the rest of your life is filled with activities you love. Even if your job is stress central, you can find one hobby or two that enrich your world. What are you passionate about? If you’re not sure, experiment with a variety of activities to find something that’s especially meaningful and fulfilling.

4. Manage your time well.

One of the biggest stressors for many people is lack of time. Their to-do list expands, while time flies. How often have you wished for more hours in the day or heard others lament their lack of time? But you’ve got more time than you think, as Laura Vanderkam writes in her aptly titled book, 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think.

We all have the same 168 hours, and yet there are plenty of people who are dedicated parents and full-time employees and who get at least seven hours of sleep a night and lead fulfilling lives.

Here are Vanderkam’s seven steps to help you check off your to-do list and find time for the things you truly enjoy.

relatedFollow These 6 Steps to Stress Less and Stay Motivated

5. Create a toolbox of techniques.

One stress-shrinking strategy won’t work for all your problems. For instance, while deep breathing is helpful when you’re stuck in traffic or hanging at home, it might not rescue you during a business meeting.

Because stress is complex, “What we need is a toolbox that’s full of techniques that we can fit and choose for the stressor in the present moment,” said Richard Blonna, Ed.D, a nationally certified coach and counselor and author of Stress Less, Live More: How Acceptance & Commitment Therapy Can Help You Live a Busy Yet Balanced Life.

Here’s a list of additional techniques to help you build your toolbox.

stress

6. Pick off the negotiables from your plate.

Review your daily and weekly activities to see what you can pick off your plate. As Vanderkam asks in her book: “Do your kids really love their extracurricular activities, or are they doing them to please you? Are you volunteering for too many causes, and so stealing time from the ones where you could make the most impact? Does your whole department really need to meet once per week or have that daily conference call?”

Blonna suggested asking these questions: “Do [my activities] mesh with my goals and values? Am I doing things that give my life meaning? Am I doing the right amount of things?”

Reducing your stack of negotiable tasks can greatly reduce your stress.

7. Are you leaving yourself extra vulnerable to stress?

Whether you perceive something as a stressor depends in part on your current state of mind and body. That is, as Blonna said, ““Each transaction we’re involved in takes place in a very specific context that’s affected by our health, sleep, psychoactive substances, whether we’ve had breakfast [that day] and [whether we’re] physically fit.”

So if you’re not getting sufficient sleep or physical activity during the week, you may be leaving yourself extra susceptible to stress. When you’re sleep-deprived, sedentary and filled to the brim with coffee, even the smallest stressors can have a huge impact.

8. Preserve good boundaries.

If you’re a people-pleaser like me, saying no feels like you’re abandoning someone, have become a terrible person or are throwing all civility out the window. But of course that couldn’t be further from the truth. Plus, those few seconds of discomfort are well worth avoiding the stress of taking on an extra activity or doing something that doesn’t contribute value to your life.

One thing I’ve noticed about productive, happy people is that they’re very protective of their time and having their boundaries crossed. But not to worry: Building boundaries is a skill you can learn. Here are some tips to help. And if you tend toward people-pleasing, these tips can help, too.

relatedStress Reduction is More Important Than Eating Well

 9. Realize there’s a difference between worrying and caring.

Sometimes, our mindset can boost stress, so a small issue mushrooms into a pile of problems. We continue worrying, somehow thinking that this is a productive — or at least inevitable — response to stress. But we mistake worry for action.

Clinical psychologist Chad LeJeune, Ph.D, talks about the idea of worrying versus caring in his book, The Worry Trap: How to Free Yourself from Worry & Anxiety Using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy. “Worrying is an attempt to exert control over the future by thinking about it,” whereas caring is taking action. “When we are caring for someone or something, we do the things that support or advance the best interests of the person or thing that we care about.”

LeJeune uses the simple example of houseplants. He writes: “If you are away from home for a week, you can worry about your houseplants every single day and still return home to find them brown and wilted. Worrying is not watering.”

Similarly, fretting about your finances does nothing but get you worked up (and likely prevent you from taking action). Caring about your finances, however, means creating a budget, paying bills on time, using coupons and reducing how often you dine out.

Just this small shift in mindset from worrying to caring can help you adjust your reaction to stress. To see this distinction between worrying and caring, LeJeune includes an activity where readers list responses for each one. For example:

  • Worrying about your health involves…
  • Caring about your health involves…
  • Worrying about your career involves…
  • Caring about your career involves…

related5 Healthier Ways to Deal with Stress and Anxiety

10. Embrace mistakes—or at least don’t drown in perfectionism.

Another mindset that can exacerbate stress is perfectionism. Trying to be mistake-free and essentially spending your days walking on eggshells is exhausting and anxiety-provoking. Talk about putting pressure on yourself! And as we all know but tend to forget: Perfectionism is impossible and not human, anyway.

As researcher Brene Brown writes in her book The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are, “Perfectionism is not the same thing as striving to be your best. Perfectionism is not about healthy achievement and growth” and it’s not self-improvement.

Nothing good can come from perfectionism. Brown writes: “Research shows that perfectionism hampers success. In fact, it’s often the path to depression, anxiety, addiction and life-paralysis [‘all the opportunities we miss because we’re too afraid to put anything out in the world that could be imperfect’].”

Plus, mistake-mistaking can lead to growth. To overcome perfectionism, Brown suggests becoming more compassionate toward yourself. I couldn’t agree more.

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.    Associate Editor
Tartakovsky, M. (2011). 10 Practical Ways to Handle Stress. Psych Central. Retrieved on February 25, 2017,
from https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/07/11/10-practical-ways-to-handle-stress/
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 11 Jul 2011 
Originally published on PsychCentral.com on 11 Jul 2011


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Are Prebiotics the Stress Reliever You Never Heard Of?

Before you spend another night tossing and turning from stress, a new study shows that the secret to peaceful Z’s starts with what you’re eating.

There are traditional methods for coping with stress, from relaxing in the tub to keeping a bullet journal, but according to the newest study, an effective way to bounce back from stress is to get your fill of foods rich in prebiotics.

While probiotics—those friendly gut bugs—are often lauded for their digestive benefits, prebiotics are less understood. WebMD defines prebiotics as “good carbohydrates that cannot be digested by the human body. They are food for probiotics, and their primary benefit along with probiotics is to help your body maintain a healthy digestive system.”

Researchers from the University of Colorado discovered that regular amounts of prebiotics in your diet can help promote a better balance of gut bacteria and help the body recover following a stressful event. Their study, which appeared in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, found that including prebiotics—from sources like asparagus, oatmeal, and legumes such as lentils and chickpeas—help our bodies resume normal sleeping patterns following a particularly stressful event.

“Acute stress can disrupt the gut microbiome,” Agnieszka Mika, MD, a lead author of the study told sciencedaily.com. “We wanted to test if a diet rich in prebiotics would increase beneficial bacteria as well as protect gut microbes from stress-induced disruptions. We also wanted to look at the effects of prebiotics on the recovery of normal sleep patterns, since they tend to be disrupted after stressful events.”

For the study, test rats were given a diet of prebiotics for several weeks prior to a stressful test condition. They were then compared against control rats that didn’t eat a prebiotic-rich diet. Researchers found that the rats that ate prebiotic foods prior to the stressful event didn’t demonstrate any stress-induced disruption in their gut and were able to resume healthier sleep patterns more quickly than the rats on the non-prebiotic diet.

Although the study was conducted on rats, the researchers say the results are applicable for humans. According to the study’s lead author, Robert Thompson, MD, “the stressor the rats received was the equivalent of a single intense acute stressful event for humans, such as a car accident or the death of a loved one.”

No adverse effects have been reported from the use of prebiotics, and with the non-digestible fiber found widely in many plants, breast milk and as commercial supplements, Dr. Mika encourages us to get our fill. These are the best foods you can eat to boost your good gut bacteria, because both probiotics and prebiotics are critical to a healthy microbiome, or gut bug community.

BY LAUREN REARICK
source: www.rd.com
Garlic

7 Foods to Boost Your Good Gut Bacteria (That Aren’t Yogurt)

One of the most astonishing recent health discoveries is how much our gut microbiome impacts our health. But when it comes to growing good gut bacteria you have plenty of delicious probiotic foods to choose from.

Cold potatoes

Cold potatoes—that is, taters that have been washed, cooked, and cooled—are one of the best sources of resistant starch. Resistant starch is a prebiotic, a type of indigestible carbohydrate that acts like food for gut bacteria, encouraging the good bugs to grow and flourish. While resistant starch has many health benefits, one of its most promising aspects is its ability to increase insulin sensitivity, helping people reduce diabetes risk and even lose weight.

Kefir

Think of kefir as yogurt’s tangier but more powerful cousin. The drink is made by seeding milk with kefir “grains,” which are tiny bundles of yeast and bacteria, and letting it sit. Over time the grains ferment the milk, producing a tart drink full of probiotics, or healthy bacteria. A 2013 study found that kefir can help relieve gastrointestinal problems and allergies and may even have a positive effect on heart health. One caveat however: Many commercial kefir drinks contain very high amounts of added sugar, which feeds bad bacteria in your gut, so make sure you read the label and ingredient list. These are sneaky signs you might be eating too much sugar.

Green bananas

Most people go out of their way to avoid green bananas but there’s good news for people who just can’t wait until they’re fully ripe. Green bananas are a rich source of prebiotics, particularly resistant starch. They also have a healthy dose of both soluble and insoluble fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The combo provides a feast for good gut bacteria and helps protect your heart and bones. Can’t get past the taste? Try them boiled or fried or sub some green banana flour in place of regular flour. Here’s how sniffing bananas could help you lose weight.

Kimchi

Don’t let the name throw you—this Korean dish is not only tasty but a health superstar. Kimchi is made by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria, which gives it the same boost of healthy bacteria as other fermented foods, like yogurt. Plus, since it’s made from cruciferous veggies like bok choy and cabbage along with healthy spices like garlic and peppers, it provides a mega dose of vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants. One study found that kimchi helps protect against cancer, obesity, and constipation while lowering cholesterol, boosting brain and immune function, and even providing some anti-aging benefits. Here are other proven cancer-fighting foods.

Sauerkraut

Sauerkraut is kimchi’s German cousin, a lacto-fermented brine filled with cabbage, carrots, and spices—not to mention plenty of healthy bacteria for your gut. And not only does it have similar benefits as other fermented veggies but a study done by William & Mary college found that eating a daily serving of sauerkraut helped significantly reduce social anxiety. The researchers believe it’s because more than 80 percent of the calming hormone, serotonin, is manufactured in our guts (not our brains!) and the good bacteria boosted serotonin production.

Chocolate

Yes, it’s true! Chocolate can help encourage the growth of healthy gut bacteria. A study published in the International Journal of Food Biology found that combining chocolate with probiotics magnified the benefits of both. The chocolate protected the bacteria as it passed through the stomach, making sure it was absorbed in the small intestine while the bacteria helped the body properly digest the chocolate, enabling it to extract all the micronutrients and antioxidants. Talk about a win/win! Here are more healthy reasons to eat chocolate.

Garlic

Everyone’s favorite way to get bad breath also has powerful gut bacteria-boosting properties. Garlic is not only Americans’ number-one favorite spice (after salt) but is also beloved by bacteria thanks to its rich supply of prebiotics, their preferred food. Raw garlic is the best source but for those who don’t like the burn (or who feel like kissing someone later); cooked garlic also works well—so well in fact that a study published in Food Science and Human Wellness found that eating it is an effective way to prevent many gastrointestinal illnesses. Here are more surprising benefits of garlic. Feeling motivated? Try these seven other foods that also boost gut health.

BY CHARLOTTE HILTON ANDERSEN
source: www.rd.com


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The Easiest Way To Kill Stress And Tension

The simple instruction that reduces stress and increases energy and optimism.

The easiest way to kill stress and tension is:
Don’t be so hard on yourself!

People who are more compassionate towards themselves experience less stress, new research finds.

Self-compassion is also linked to more:

  • optimism,
  • feeling alive,
  • and energy.

The conclusions come from a study of students coping with their first year at college.

Dr Katie Gunnell, the study’s first author, said:

“Our study suggests the psychological stress students may experience during the transition between high school and university can be mitigated with self-compassion because it enhances the psychological needs of autonomy, competence, and relatedness, which in turn, enriches well-being.”

Self-compassion has three components, the study’s authors explain:

(1) self-kindness, which represents the ability to be caring and kind to ourselves rather than excessively critical,
(2) common humanity, which represents an understanding that everyone makes mistakes and fails and our experience is part of a larger common experience,
and (3) mindfulness, which represents being present and aware while keeping thoughts in balance rather than overidentifying.”

Professor Peter Crocker, a study co-author, said:

“Research shows first-year university is stressful.
Students who are used to getting high grades may be shocked to not do as well in university, feel challenged living away from home, and are often missing important social support they had in high school.
Self-compassion appears to be an effective strategy or resource to cope with these types of issues.”

self compassion

Develop self-compassion

One way to increase this sense of self-compassion is to carry out a writing exercise.

Think about a recent negative experience and write about it.

Crucially, though, you need to write about it while being compassionate towards yourself.

In other words: don’t be too critical and recognise that everyone makes mistakes.

The study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences (Gunnell et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


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Fun Fact Friday

  • The happier you are, the less sleep you require to function in everyday life. Sadness increases the urge to sleep more.
  • Brushing your teeth will keep your heart healthier. People with gum disease have a 25–50% higher chance of getting cardiovascular disease.
  • If it takes less than five minutes to do, do it immediately. Your life will instantly become much more organized and productive.

 

sleeping
The happier you are, the less sleep you require to function in everyday life.
Sadness increases the urge to sleep more.
  • Everyone has experienced something that has changed them in a way that they could never go back to the person they once were. 
  • Eating bananas, pasta, almonds, grapes, oatmeal, chocolate, watermelon, orange juice, cornflakes, and tuna can help relieve stress.
Happy Friday  🙂
 
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact