Someone breaks into your home and threatens your life. Your reaction: SURVIVE!
You wake up late, in a rush to get to work, argument with spouse, careless driver in the next lane, work overload, not enough rest, anxiety, fear, death of a loved one, misbehaving child, stagnant weight loss, stress about the way the body looks, stress about the 10 pounds that won’t come off, dissatisfaction with position in life, afraid that you aren’t enough, guilt, etc. Your reaction: SURVIVE!
Stress, real or imagined, big or small, is a threat to the body and causes reactions. The reactions are major metabolic changes. There are several changes going on, however, today we will just talk about the way it affects the results you want to achieve with weight loss.
The fight or flight response is known by everyone….But generally, we think of it in terms of a survival mechanism. I am going to give you some bad news. We abuse the natural fight or flight response of the body. It is suppose to be reserved for catastrophic experiences. However, today’s society is in such a rush and has preconceived notions about how we are “supposed” to look and act that it is continually activated. And YES…these all produce the same stress chemistry response as fighting for your life.
Ok…so you are probably asking….what is the big deal…adrenaline is raging through my body…it gives me more energy…what could possibly be wrong with that?
Are you ready for the list?
- Decrease in blood flow to the gut by 4 times
- Food is not being digested and assimilated effectively. Your gut must have the majority of the blood from your body to massage the stomach and intestines to properly keep the digestive processes functioning at full capacity.
- 20,000 fold decrease in enzymatic output in the gut
- Enzymes break down the food into tiny particles for easy absorption. Lack of enzymes causes digestive upset like indigestion and upset stomach.
- Decrease in thyroid and growth hormone production
- The thyroid hormone is in charge of all metabolic activity throughout the body.
- The growth hormone is a key hormone in the growing, healing and rebuilding of body tissues. This hormone aids the body in burning fat and building muscle.
- Increase in insulin and cortisol
- These are fat collecting hormones that signals body to store fat, especially abdominal fat.
- Excessive production of cortisol ages the body prematurely
- Excessive secretion of insulin can lead to insulin resistance which plays a key role in heart disease, diabetes, weight gain and aging.
- Die off of healthy gut bacteria
- The gut is the primary location of the immune system, decrease of healthy gut bacteria can lead to immunity issues.
- Excretion of all minerals and water soluble vitamins
- Urinary loss of these vital minerals and water soluble vitamins leads to deficiencies that in turn cause health issues to arise.
- Increase Inflammation – oxidative stress – aging and disease
- Inflammation is the leading cause of many diseases in our time.
- Decreased thermic deficiency
- Your ability to burn calories greatly diminishes.
- Decreased Oxygen intake
- Oxygen is your single most metabolically enhancing nutrient at your disposal. When under stress the tendency is to hold the breath or take shallow breaths.
- This influences all aspects of metabolism
This is a tip of the ice-burg called S-T-R-E-S-S.
All in all…the body is fatigued, it won’t burn calories, it excretes necessary minerals (calcium is #1), food is not digested, assimilated, or eliminated, and the body collects and stores fat. (These are the results of chronic low stress levels.) WOW! If your desire is to be healthy, fit and trim….operating your life under any level of stress is NOT going to work in your favor!
If you are running for your life or protecting your family, bring on the stress chemistry. BUT the self chosen stress and desire to “heap more on” is aging the body at a rapid pace.
In a nut shell, this is what is happening within your body:
Now your calorie burning capacity is drastically REDUCED! YIKES!
No matter how healthy you eat during this time it will not make a bit of difference. The body isn’t in a condition to digest, assimilate or eliminate food let alone absorb nutrients from food.
HOWEVER, there is GREAT news!
YOU can turn this around in 60 seconds!
HOW? BREATHE! Breathing shuts down the physiological stress response.
Once the Para-sympathetic nervous system is activated – the digestive response is in full swing. Here is what to do:
Take 5-10 SLOW DEEP Breaths. Your body will shift into the relaxation response and begin to digest, assimilate and eliminate.
That sounds way too easy, I know…but the body is easy. By the way…this can be done anytime, anywhere and in only 60 seconds. It does require 2 things from you; You must stop what you are doing and just be present AND you have to practice. You didn’t create this habit of dropping into a stress response overnight, so it will take some practice to turn this around.
I suggest deep breathing EVERY time you sit down to eat.
Deep, lung filling, diaphragm filling belly breaths will massage the stomach and prepare it for the food you are about to eat…which will aid in your digestive power.
Eliminate the negative effects of stress and shift the body into the calorie burning mode so you can increase your body’s ability to get you results!
Reference: Mark David, Slow Down Diet and Nourishing Wisdom