Stress, Hormones, and Poor Gut Function

A majority of Americans eat a diet which consists largely of high sugars and refined grains. This means that most Americans today suffer from instability in their blood sugar levels. The problem with this type of diet is that these foods are very rapidly converted into glucose and contribute to overeating, constant cravings, and poor nutrition. Contrary to popular belief, the worst possible breakfast to start your day with is a bowl of cereal, skim milk, and a banana. It is important to understand what is going to happen to your body if this is the food you choose to eat.

Hormonally, a few things happen. First, insulin drives blood sugar levels too low, creating a reactive hypoglycemic state. This may create feelings of irritability, moodiness, and an inability to focus. The body, and especially the brain, needs adequate levels of glucose to thrive. In addition to the negative effects low blood sugar has on the brain, it also stresses theadrenal glands. The adrenal glands regulate the stress response within the body. The adrenals release a hormone called cortisol, which is used to elevate blood sugar. You will therefore be trapped in a vicious cycle that sets you up for failure.

Cortisol is a hormone that is released by the adrenal gland in response to events such as waking up in the morning, exercising, and experiencing acute stress. Its far-reaching, systemic effects play many roles in the body’s effort to carry out its processes and maintain homeostasis. Cortisol therefore informs on cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation, immune function, weight management, proper digestion and nutrient absorption, as well as other health matters.

Whether or not a particular individual’s stress levels will result in high cortisol levels and leaky gut is not readily predictable. The amount of cortisol secreted in response to stress can vary among individuals, and some people are inherently more reactive to stressful events. For example, women who secrete high levels of cortisol when they are under stress tend to eat more at those times than women who secrete less cortisol. Additionally, women with higher cortisol levels tend to store their excess fat in their abdominal area, and these women report having more lifestyle stress than women whose fat gets stored on their hips.

We do not necessarily know every time our body comes under attack. Also, sometimes we rationalize that certain foods are not really harmful for us but rather less than ideal, when in fact we know they are actually bad for us. However, eating foods that are rife with toxins and antigens or that consist of “empty calories” will damage your body. Insidious sources of strain on the body that cause widespread inflammation include refined sugar, anemia, stress, lack of sleep, cancer-causing free radicals, low-grade infections, and a “leaky gut” that lets food, waste, and pathogens freely enter our bodies.

Everything you eat either harms you or heals you, so it is vital to consume foods that enable the body to perform its vital functions and avoid foods that inhibit its performance.

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