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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

VAT and Stress: The Door Swings Both Ways

When it comes to stress and VAT, the door swings both ways:

What I mean is this:

1. Stress and worry causes a larger VAT;


2. The VAT releases cortisol (adrenal hormone) in the blood and can make one feel like they are under stress.

Review the pictures to the left and below. These pictures are what Cushing's disease, excess cortisol, looks like. So, without doubt one can see that the stress hormone cortisol produces a a large VAT/SCAT. Not all people with elevated cortisol are severe enough to have Cushing's Disease---but even in the 'grey' areas between 'optimal health' and 'Cushings' the people tend to have some of these symptoms.

The VAT has high activity of an enzyme called 11-beta-hydroxysteriod dehydrogenase type 1. This enzyme is responsible for converting inactive cortisone to the active cortisol. Thus, the larger the VAT, the higher the concentrations of cortisol. This cortisol may or not be reflected in the plasma but is definitely seen in higher concentrations at the tissues level. The activity of this cortisol producing enzyme is barely detectable in the SCAT.

On the other side of the coin is stress. There is a definite association with stress, worry, cortisol levels and thick waist. Those people who have the highest stress were also found to have the highest levels of plasma cortisol as well as the biggest VAT. In addition, some people eat when they are stressed or depressed, especially sugary comfort foods, in an attempt to medicate away feelings.

There is a moral to this story and that moral is that the proverbial dog is chasing its own tail.

Stress causes an increased VAT....and an enlarging VAT causes more stress hormones to be released.

And thus, to battle the VAT beast, we must not only watch what type of foods we eat, we must also watch our stress levels. And this includes, btw, sleeping! Insomnia is a major stressor and we must take all steps necessary to return our circadian sleep rhythms to normal without depending on drugs that don't allow us to get into a from slow Hz, deep restorative sleep.

Or, looking at it from a different direction, do you want less stress in your life? (and who doesn't?)

Then reduce your body's cortisol burden by reducing your VAT!

I love you all. Stay tuned....