The Metabolism Program

Obesity caused by stress?

Today's problem with continuous stress has a strong influence on the central mechanism of our energy metabolism. If the stress system is imbalance for a long time, an increased appetite above and beyond normal can be triggered.

The brain's involvement in the development of obesity has long been underestimated. The latest research examines how the brain controls the circle of hunger, appetite and satiation.

"Selfish brain"

Brain researcher Achim Peters describes the brain as egotistical in his "Selfish brain theory". In his opinion,the brain manupulates the energy metabolism and safeguards its own supply first. Only then does it distribute energy to muscles, organs and fatty tissue. Our brain uses the most energy compared to all other organs, and under stress, it requires even more. If the brain cannot get any more nutrients from the body, the brain increases the hunger sensation. Our body is being forced to take in more energy than is necessary. This can lead to long-term obesity.

Stress hormones

By activating stess hormones such as adrendaline, noradrenaline and cortisol, the brain achieves a quick supply of glucose. This mechanism ensures that, even under stress, the brain can make decisions. Normally, this stress reaction is only short term and the hormone levels decrease again to a normal level. However, our modern lifestyle, with its continuous mental stres, can increase our hormone level chronically. Cortisol is responsible for storing more fat around our middle. Increased abdominal fat is a known risk factor for developing  cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other diseases.

Certain areas of the brain greatly influence our eating habits

We not only eat because we are hungry, but also because we just feel like it or for emotional reasons. Most of us have experience such situations: frustration or it just tastes too good.

Researchers are focusing on further influences affecting the brain's connection to hunger and satiation. Our appetite is being controlled by the strongest lust and frustration centre in the brain. Those who do not feel a "reward" sensention while eating, continue to eat. This is caused by a reduced amount of receptors for the neurotransmitter dopamine, US researchers report. Dopamine is released in the brain when food is consumed and results in a good feeling. People who genetically have a reduced number of such receptors, have to eat more to feel good, and are therefore at increased risk of becoming obese. In a nutshell, different moods influence our eating habits.

Healthy nutrition

The key to stress management is identifying the cause and applying counter measures. That includes exercise, a balanced lifestyle and healthy nutrition. The correct proteins for your personal metabolism are allocated in your healthy & active nutritional plan with lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes and nuts that can help your body regenerate.                                           

Take your time with your shopping and meal preparation. You will enjoy your food, made full of vital nutrients more. Stay healthy and content.

Author: Lothar Ursinus
Image Note: istockphoto