How Stress Really Leads to Weight Gain

Stress and Weight Gain | Life Insurance |

Many people follow a healthy diet because we’ve been told that we should stay away from lots of carbohydrates, fats, and sugar if we don’t want to pile on the kilograms. But, how many of us know that it is not just comfort eating that can make us gain weight?


Researchers say when a person is under pressure their body naturally builds up fat. They have discovered that stress triggers a hormone called “A disintegrin and metalloproteinase with thrombospondin motifs 1” or ADAMTS1 which produces fat cells in the body. This is what can create that “spare tyre” around the waist and is likely to target internal organs like the liver and pancreas, wrapping fat around them, which increases the risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


Stanford University School of Medicine in the US released new evidence that stress can make you gain unwanted weight. According to Dr. Brian Feldman, senior author of the study, stress hormones encourage fat cells to develop. The body takes stress as an indication that there may be difficult times ahead, triggering a reaction to store as much available energy as possible.


In the past, it was believed that fat cells were just inactive bags of calories, but new research reveals that they send and receive important hormonal signals. Kept within “fat depots” in the body, they can affect stem cells around them. Scientists at Stanford say the ADAMTS1 hormone which prompts this, changes stem cells into more cells ready to collect fat. This means that if you are already overweight, your body is likely to produce more fat cells, and now scientists are saying that stress triggers a similar effect.


Stress triggers fat

Our country has the highest overweight and obesity rate in sub-Saharan Africa, according to The Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa, could this mean that, amongst other causes of weight gain, South Africans are under a lot of stress?


Stress Triggers Fat | Life Insurance |

The researchers found that a highly demanding job can make a person gain weight, as it can put you under more stress which leads to comfort eating and a poor diet, and individuals in this situation are likely to become overweight. The new discoveries from Stanford University showed that the ADAMTS1 hormone is the main signal that causes stem cells to begin storing fat.


The researchers said fighting the effects of the hormone was complex, because if you block fat creation, extra calories have to be stored somewhere else in your body, and if they go somewhere else outside fat cells it could be more detrimental to your metabolism. The study examined a group of steroid hormones produced under stress, which trigger ADAMTS1. They originate from the adrenal glands above the kidney, in response to a signal from the brain.


These hormones are believed to trigger comfort eating, as they act directly on the tongue’s taste cells, affecting how they react to sugary foods. Other hormones that had the same effect in producing fat cells out of stem cells are glucocorticoids. According to the report, the researchers said that they had observed that the glucocorticoid signal is embedded in the high-fat feeding pathway, and tying those dots together was really exciting.


Unfortunately, you can’t always foresee the situations that may put you under stress, such as the amount of pressure at work, but there are certain things you can do, such as taking out a Life Insurance policy, that will afford you more peace of mind, secure in the knowledge that should something happen to you, your loved ones will be provided for.

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