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Too much stress builds body fat

Jenny Decker RN's picture
Work stress

According a new study at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, too much stress can build body fat, specifically visceral fat. The researchers studied cynomolgus monkeys and how social structure and stress related to the buildup of fat around the abdomen.

Researchers found that females are at higher risk for health complications due to visceral fat buildup from stressful situations. Others with higher stress in general include those who are on the lower end of the social ladder.

Visceral fat is different from subcutaneous fat and fat that accumulates on the organs of the body, such as the heart, the liver, and blood vessels. The fat that is in the abdomen acts in a unique way from other fats in the body. Visceral fat secretes hormones that change the way metabolism occurs with sugar and burning calories. Abdominal fat is linked to high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and other metabolic changes that predispose the body to increased risk for diabetes and heart disease. In the study, it was found that increased stress increased the size of the abdomen.

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Beer bellies and love handles are direct results of higher stress levels. Signs and symptoms of stress include loss of sleep, decreased immune system, irritability, anxiety, depression, and the feeling of being overwhelmed among other things.

Stress management helps decrease risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Some techniques that can be done to manage stress include:

o Stress management course
o Self-hypnosis
o Yoga or tai chi
o Reading a book
o Taking a bubble bath
o Exercise
o Eating a well balanced diet
o Meditation
o Prayer

Even getting mental health therapy can assist with stress management. Mental health therapy gives one tools with which to use in daily life to manage stress. Managing stress will not only add years to your life, it will add quality as well.

Nature (abstract)