stress not causing health problems

I see it every day in the forums and groups that I’m a part of dealing with health and specifically insulin resistance, weight loss resistance, and weight loss where people own the perceived fact that stress is keeping them sick or overweight or causing their insulin resistance.

Before you get emotional and attack me for even mentioning this, I would ask that you please just consider the possibility that your stress isn’t driving all of this.

It may not even be your stress response or how you react to stress that’s driving this either.

I say this not to discredit you or what you feel and believe but to empower you to see that this is an opportunity for change and growth. This is a chance to see this differently and approach it differently and give yourself a different outcome that you may have never had available to you before.

When the body responds to stress, good or bad, it doesn’t have a big hormonal cascade that impacts things like insulin resistance, body weight, weight loss resistance, and systemic inflammation.

When the body releases glucose or sugar in the blood, the insulin response is minimal. It doesn’t even compare to what happens with the same amount of glucose coming from our diet.

Eat something with 30 g of sugar, depending on how you eat it and what is in it, and combined with it will have a tremendously higher insulin response than if your body naturally releases that sugar throughout the day.

These reactions and responses are not the same at all whatsoever.

We started to understand this concept by testing the insulin response to glucose taken orally vs. injected intravenously. This led us to discover the incretin response that controls insulin secretion much more than the glucose in our bloodstream.

The bottom line is that the response was dramatically different, and the injected glucose did not impact the blood sugar or insulin as the oral glucose did.

Why does this happen? 

Because the body is way more intelligent than we give it credit for. Way more brilliant than I am and any other doctors out there. The body knows how to deal with this stuff, and it will if we just allow it and get out of its way. It doesn’t need help. It requires no interference.

When we fast, as in a complete abstention from eating for an extended amount of time, the body will still get all the glucose that it needs to where it needs it. 

The body doesn’t need us to eat anything to make glucose and bring it throughout the body for the brain, kidneys, skin, muscle, and anywhere needed. It will make exactly what it needs, upward of 80 grams of glucose each day even when you’re not eating.

Eighty grams is  320 calories if someone eats 2000 calories a day that’s over 15% of their daily intake that they’re getting from glucose while fasting.

The body will also recycle protein and amino acids constantly while you fast and increase its efficiency and effectiveness the longer you do it. So although you’re not eating, your body is still processing glucose, protein, and fat. It knows what to do and how to do it, and we should respect that and try to allow it in the best we can rather than try to control it or “hack” it to do something we “think” is better.

Back to stress. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is made in three main areas of the body, with only one-third of that cortisol being produced in your adrenals. So blaming this on adrenal fatigue isn’t the answer either.

A third of your cortisol is made in your brain to protect your brain because cortisol is the most potent anti-inflammatory substance ever discovered. It makes the medications we use look like toys and child’s play.

A third of your cortisol is made in your fat cells themselves. Burning fat or liberating fat from your body fat stores is inflammatory. This mechanism is there to help offset that. If you’re seeking an anti-inflammatory environment and diet and yet you want to lose weight, they are conflicting concepts. That’s why many people struggle and have trouble with them—understanding them will help allow the body to work as designed and will get you a lot more from your efforts.

If you want to have a better relationship with your stress response, I suggest you focus on it and work on it independently of anything else. It deserves such attention.

Learning how to reframe how you see stress and the stress in your life makes a big difference. Whether stress shows up as an adverse health factor in your life or not comes down to what you think about it in the first place. That has been shown repeatedly over and over in studies. 

Whether we believe our stress impacts health or not is true for us.

So if nothing else, I hope you read this, and you can see that there’s a possibility that the scapegoat of stress can be vindicated, and you can start to look to other places where you are in control and can make an impact on your health, healing, weight and weight loss, and quality of life.

We can do better

Dr. Don!

Health Book Discussion is “The Upside of Stress” by Dr. Kelly McGonigal
This book introduced me to one of my favorite health motivational quotes that I modified for my VAULT Resilience Program:

“Turning the physiology of stress into the biology of courage!”

the upside of stress