Stress: How Can You Reclaim Control Over it to Achieve Metabolic Wellness?

A smiling woman relaxing after a yoga session in a group class.
Reclaim Control Over Stress with Yoga: Achieve Metabolic Wellness

Stress is the uninvited unwelcome guest that knocks on your door, regardless of age, race, gender, or background. Its impacts goes beyond mental torture but it significantly influences our physical health, especially our metabolic wellness. In this full-bodied guide, I will show you the inworking of the relationship between stress and metabolic health and offer practical, research-backed strategies to get overall well-being back on track!

Table of Contents

    What Does Metabolic Wellness mean and why is it important for Overall Health?

    Before getting into the complex relationship between stress and metabolic health, let’s first understand what metabolic wellness covers. Metabolism refers to the chemical reactions that happen in the body to maintain life. We’re talking about the body processes that create energy, break down nutrients, and eliminate waste. All of which are essential for the body to function properly.

    Vegetables and fruits in pill-shaped containers, representing the integration of nutrition and supplements for metabolic wellness.
    Enhance Metabolic Health with Nutrition and Supplements to take over daily stress

    So, Metabolic wellness means the optimal functioning of these metabolic processes to support overall health and well-being. That means making the best of your metabolism. How do you do that? By maintaining balanced blood sugar levels, making energy production efficient, and utilizing nutrients properly. When metabolic processes are OPTIMIZED, you experience increased energy levels. It also stables even moods and healthy weight management. And most importantly, it reduces risk of chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

    What is Stress and How Does the Body Respond to Stressors?

    Stress is a natural response to threatening and challenging situations. This triggers a cascade of physiological (physical) and psychological (mental) reactions within the body. When faced with a stressor and it could be anything— a work deadline, financial pressure, or a relationship conflict—the body initiates the release of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. These hormones activate the body’s fight-or-flight response, preparing it to confront or flee from the perceived threat.

    Acute stress is a normal and adaptive response that helps us cope with immediate challenges. But chronic or prolonged stress can have terrible effects on both; physical and mental health. It disrupts the body’s delicate balance, leading to dysregulation of various systems, including the immune system, cardiovascular heart, and metabolic systems. Over time, chronic stress can contribute to loads of health problems, including metabolic disorders such as obesity, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

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    What is the Relationship Between Stress and Metabolic Wellness?

    This acute stress response is a survival mechanism for dangerous situations. Persistent activation of the stress response system can throw key metabolic processes, such as glucose metabolism ( how the body ingests sugar,)  insulin sensitivity ( how cells react to sugar), and appetite regulation (making you either very hungry or making you starve) off balance. This ultimately lays the foundation for metabolic disorders like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease

    How Does Stress Affect Metabolic Health Through Hormonal Shifts, Inflammation, and Behavior?

    Stress influences metabolic health through multiple pathways, including hormonal shifts, inflammation, and behavioral adjustments:

    1. Hormonal Shifts: Chronic stress disrupts the hormonal balance crucial for metabolic regulation. High cortisol levels encourage the buildup of visceral fat (fat around the organs), spike appetite for high-calorie foods (makes you hungry for junk food), and hamper insulin sensitivity (makes you less sensitive to insulin) which sets the stage for insulin resistance and metabolic glitches.
                               Incr visceral fat
     
                 ↙️↙️↙️↙️                                       ↘️↘️↘️↘️

    High cortisol — Incr appetite for junk ——Metabolism Glitches

                 ↖️↖️↖️↖️                                        ↗️↗️↗️↗️      

                              Decr sens to insulin
    1. Inflammation: Stress turns on an inflammatory response in the body, shown by the release of pro-inflammatory molecules and immune cells. Chronic inflammation is a red flag for metabolic disorders like obesity and insulin resistance, giving way to cardiovascular issues, fatty liver disease, and other metabolic complications.
    STRESS ➡️➡️ Acute Inflammation 
    ➡️➡️ Chronic inflammation
    ➡️➡️ Obesity & Insulin resistance
    ➡️➡️ Heart Disease, Liver Disease, Metabolic glitches
    1. Behavioral Adjustments: When stress knocks, people take on coping mechanisms like emotional or comfort eating and sedentary habits ( sleeping too much, watching too much TV, getting inactive) These maladaptive responses can worsen metabolic glitches, leading to weight gain and finally obesity.
    STRESS ➡️➡️ Coping mechanism 
    ➡️➡️ Metabolic glitches
    ➡️➡️ Weight gain
    Originsl STRESS + STREE about new weight gain ➡️➡️ Obesity
    ➡️➡️ Obesity complications

    What Evidence-Based Strategies Can Help Manage Stress and Improve My Metabolic Health?

    So now that we know why stress has negative effects on your metabolic health, what are you gonna do about it? Let’s find out some evidence-backed strategies to reign in the stress monster and improve overall well-being:

    Physical Activity:

    Make physical activity your ally in combating stress and nurturing mental wellness. Exercise acts as a natural mood booster, and releases endorphins(natural high) that promote euphoria and relaxation. But more importantly, it dials down cortisol levels, improves sleep, removes metabolic glitches, and compacts the stress-induced metabolic havoc. Your goal is 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or ( 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly)  along with muscle-strengthening exercises to reap the rewards. Divide that any you want it, just get up and go! 

    Healthy Lifestyle Habits:

    Embrace wholesome habits like balanced nutrition, lots of sleep, plenty of hydration, and fostering social connections to fortify overall well-being and resistance against stress. A diet rich in fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats improves metabolic function and overall health. Prioritize quality sleep by establishing a sleep routine and creating a sleep-friendly environment. Stay hydrated to prevent stress-induced brain fog.
    Lastly and most importantly, create and nurture meaningful social bonds for mental support in navigating life’s ups and downs, this is what keeps you resilient in the face of stress.

    Mindfulness Meditation:

    what is everyone talking about when they talk about mindfulness? Mindfulness meditation is a practice centered on embracing the present moment without judgment. For example, when you sit and think and relax, you meditate on the fact that OK yes your wife left you and she took the dog, yes the boss is a pain in the rear and your house burnt down and the government hates you and your having a bad hair day, all these stressors are enough to raise anybody’s cortisol. But you sit with it and you think yes all these things and I am still alive and still kicking. Que sera sera.  Research indicates that mindfulness can reduce cortisol levels, turn down inflammation, and fortify your insulin sensitivity, nurturing metabolic health. Embrace mindfulness in your daily routine to ease stress and improve your overall well-being.


     150 min
    moderate-intensity aerobic activity
    5 days 30 mins
    3 days 50 mins 
    2 days 75 mins
    a table of options to achieve your goal of 150 mins of moderate-intensity aerobic activity/week
    Aerobic exercises = running,  bicycling, elliptical, HIIT, sprints, anything that gets your heart going 

    Muscle strengthening exercises = bodyweight exercises, pushups, situps, pull-ups, squats, lunges, etc with or without weights

    Conclusion

    This complete guide shows you the relationship between stress and metabolic wellness, offering a roadmap to navigate stress toward metabolic well-being in a holistic way. By weaving mindfulness, relaxation techniques, physical activity, and healthy lifestyle habits into your routine, you can tame chronic stress’s monster and nurture optimal metabolic health. Remember, even small steps toward change can provide big improvements in your overall well-being. So, grab hold of your life today, and start on the journey to reclaim control over stress and unlocking the key to metabolic wellness.

    References:

    National Institutes of Health, a laboratory study of stress-induced cortisol and eating behavior.

    National Institutes of Health, Cortisol awakening response and psychosocial factors.

    National Institutes of Health, Yoga, mindfulness-based stress reduction and stress-related physiological measures: A meta-analysis
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