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Why do I gain weight around the middle?

With our modern hectic lifestyle stress is inevitable. But when it becomes chronic it can take a toll on our body and wreak havoc on our endocrine and nervous systems. Stress and sugar - I called it the two S’s can play a significant role in the size of your midsection. When we’re stressed, our body releases stress hormones, specifically cortisol. Cortisol helps to regulate blood sugar by triggering the liver to release glucose but when we have chronic high stress we can expect to see higher overall blood sugar.

One of many ways to insulin resistance

Insulin resistance affects over 25 % of Americans and it has a profound effect on inflammation, hormone health, and weight as well.

We don't have to be overweight or obese to be affected. In fact, insulin resistance can happen even if you are within the normal weight range.. I've seen this multiple times, where individuals have elevated blood sugar because of high cortisol due to stress.

Our nervous system chooses between a parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system mode. In today's modern age, with so many non-life-threatening stress sources, we can end up living in a sympathetic-dominant nervous system mode with higher levels of adrenaline, and higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which overtly affects other hormones e.g. insulin that can have an impact on our blood sugar regulation.

Here comes the fact that many are not aware of. Chronic stress increases blood sugar and insulin demand completely separate from food!

What is insulin resistance?

It's a condition in which the hormone, insulin, becomes less effective at managing sugar levels in the blood after eating or drinking anything that contains a simple sugar.

Insulin is a hormone that is produced by the pancreas and acts to open the doors of the cells, taking glucose out of the bloodstream and putting it into the cells for energy. But when all of a sudden there is too much glucose in the cells they will “ shut the door “ and a build-up of insulin and blood sugar rises. Now we have high blood sugar that is being converted into fats and has an impairment on our ability to use fat for fuel. When our body is not using fat for fuel we gain weight instead. The liver stores that excess sugar as fat.

Insulin resistance is a state in which your cells have become insensitive to the hormone insulin. ‘Insulin resistance’ simply means that the cells of our body have slowly stopped responding to insulin. When cells don't respond enough to insulin, blood glucose levels rise as a result also called hyperglycemia. Over time can contribute to health concerns like diabetes, inflammation, hypertension, and weight gain.

Cortisol test

If I suspect cortisol is the culprit in I recommend a 24-hour cortisol urine test to check out the cortisol awakening response. The urine test will show if there is elevated first-morning cortisol as a possible reflection of ongoing stress. Elevated cortisol may likely cause a blood sugar surge first thing in the morning and the pancreas will therefore produce even more insulin to lower the blood sugar level and set the body up for hyperinsulinemia.

Is insulin resistance reversible?

So, what happens? We don't feel very well. We feel hungry, weak, and tired and we're getting fatter. When we feel hungry, weak, and tired, what do we do? This whole situation promotes a more sedentary lifestyle, more chronic stress, and excessive food intake. This becomes a vicious cycle.

First, we have to find the stressor and remove it from keeping damaging the body. Each person is different and needs customization for their unique lifestyle as well as their body.

There are multiple ways to reverse this dynamic but nothing works unless we are dedicated to doing some lifestyle changes and sustaining it.

If you have not changed your diet or exercise regime but gained weight for no other reasons and can’t lose those extra pounds please get in touch with me.

I hope this has been helpful

Until next time

Mille Xx


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