Why and how? Well let me begin @ your nervous system:
Your nervous system is comprised of a central nervous system – CNS (integrating, processing and coordinating sensory data and motor commands) and a peripheral nervous system -PNS (delivering sensory information to the CNS and carrying commands to body systems). The commands the PNS carries to your body systems can be voluntary or involuntary… Still hanging in there?..this next bit is what you really need to understand in order to improve your own health and performance!..
The involuntary commands in your body – such as your heart beating, digestion, sweating etc – are managed by a system called the Autonomic Nervous System – ANS.
The ANS is split into 2 branches, that have opposing effects:
sympathetic – which prepares you to “fight or flight” when presented with a stressful or challenging situation. During these stressful situation stress hormones are released (adrenaline and cortisol from the adrenal glands) elevating your blood pressure, heart rate and increasing sweating. Also, the sympathetic nervous system decreases digestive and repair processes.
parasympathetic – which prepares you to “rest or repose” supporting digestion, metabolism, growth and repair of muscle tissue (via growth hormones).
So (this is the IMPORTANT BIT!), when you are stressed (or have taken stimulants) for a long period of time you will have an over production of cortisol and adrenaline leading to a breakdown in body tissues and quite probably “adrenal fatigue”. In this stressed body your parasympathetic nervous system is suppressed leaving you unable to digest foods or repair your body effectively.
What about sugar? Well, stress hormones break down your reserves into blood sugar for immediate energy use, which then causes an increase in insulin levels (stores the blood sugar) and unless you are “flighting or fighting” the following will occur: high blood sugar > insulin released > low blood sugar crash > craving for sugar in the form of lollies/choc bars/jubes etc (NB – coffee is an adrenal stressor and will magnify this response) > and repeat! This cycle disrupts your bodies hormones and leads to weight gain and if not addressed correctly Type II diabetes.
Stressful situation = fatigue = sugar cravings = weight gain!
How do you stop this unhealthy cycle?
Incorporate relaxation into your weekly schedule
Learn stress coping mechanisms to use within your daily schedule
Distress with a stretching workout or meditation
Eat more unprocessed foods
If you have questions or need strategies and exercises to easily deal with stress get in touch