Is Stress Causing Diabetes?

Stress has been linked to A LOT of different diseases! Look through sites like WebMD or the MayoClinic, and you’ll find that stress is a risk factor in as many as 80% of the diseases, illnesses, ailments, and disorders listed there. There’s no doubt about it: stress is a killer.

Did you know that high stress levels may be a cause behind diabetes? According to a Swedish study, of the 1.5 million men interviewed, those with poor stress management habits had a 150% higher chance of developing diabetes than those who handled stress. Talk about a major risk factor in a very serious disorder.

But why? How does being stressed over work or home life cause you to develop insulin resistance? What’s the connection between the two?

Well, it all comes down to hormones. Stress triggers the production and release of cortisol, the hormone that controls your “fight or flight” response. When your body is in “fight or flight” mode, it needs a lot of energy for either the fight or flight. The hormone raises your blood sugar levels, giving you that available energy just in case. Once the “danger” passes, cortisol is reduced and your blood sugar levels go back to normal.

But in cases of chronic stress, the levels of cortisol remain high. This means that your body stays on high alert, and your blood sugar levels never drop back to normal. The higher levels of glucose in your blood means that your pancreas has to produce more insulin in order to cope, leading to a higher risk of insulin resistance–also known as Type 2 Diabetes.

And the effects don’t end there! Stress can cause you to make poor food choices. “Stress eating” rarely involves munching on carrots or enjoying lentils and beans. Most people who eat as a result of stress tend to snack on unhealthy “comfort foods” like cookies, cake, muffins, baked goods, pizza, high-carb foods, and junk food. Your stressful lifestyle may be negatively impacting your food choices.

Don’t even get me started on how your stress stops you from working out! If you’re overloaded with work and home tasks, you can’t find the time to fit in a trip to the gym. Your workouts slip, and you end up suffering from poor healthy and weight gain as a result. When you gain weight, this only makes your insulin resistance worse, increasing your risk of diabetes even more.

What’s the key? You can’t really quit your job, and the stress at home isn’t going anywhere. So what can you do?

Manage stress — Easier said than done, right? If you’re stressed at work and at home, you may have a very hard time avoiding the stressful things in your life. But that’s when it’s most important to take some “me time”. Slot one enjoyable, relaxing activity into your day, no matter how busy you are. Make time to take it easy, and it will help you to unwind.

Eat right — Stop stress eating, and improve your diet. Poor eating habits will only stress you out more, so you have to get your eating under control!

Exercise — One of the best ways to let out your stress is by hitting the gym, punching a bag, or pedaling your heart out. Exercise can help you to manage your stress, and will improve your health overall. Even if it’s just half an hour a day, it’s enough to keep you feeling good and get your body in shape. Mix up cardio and weight training to see serious results!

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