Many of us are afraid of obesity more than poverty or illnesses. An inflated body may affect our appearance but what’s more important is that it could cause problems in our body such as diabetes, high levels of blood pressure and cholesterol and gout. The psychological threat it creates may also develop into mental issues including anxiety and depression, which in turn create physical problems on a more serious level. That’s why many people are willing to take every possible means to lose weight. But do they know the most effective one of all is ‘happiness’?
Hormones – the culprit behind fat accumulation
Mental and physical conditions affect each other. Obesity, which is a physical issue, could affect our emotions and sometimes it is our emotions that lead to obesity. To be more specific, it is our hormones that call the shots behind the scenes. When our ‘bad’ hormones level goes up, fat will accumulate or worse, getting depression and anxiety. In the worst-case scenario, we may develop bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa, the two extreme types of eating disorders that harm the body inside out. So what types of hormones cause obesity?
It is our body’s primary stress hormone. The cortisol level in our blood, along with blood pressure will increase under stressful situations, such as in an examination, at a job interview, meeting a deadline or suffering from shock. A moderate amount of cortisol can fight inflammation and strengthen the immune system whereas an excessive amount will provoke our appetite to consume more calories. What’s more, it helps the accumulation of fat cells in the abdomen which gives us the big belly.
It is a crucial hormone in controlling our blood sugar level and fat metabolism. The more insulin our body secretes, the harder it is to decompose fat. Alongside the fact that unnecessary calories can accumulate more easily to become fat, it is a double-up effect that makes losing weight more difficult. Food made from refined starch, such as white bread, plain rice, biscuits and sticky rice dumplings, is one of the causes of increased insulin secretion, while anxiety and stress can cause secretion disorder which not only leads to obesity but also diabetes.
It’s a neurotransmitter nicknamed ‘happy hormone’. We may feel down if we lack serotonin, and some may even develop bulimia nervosa or anorexia nervosa if they were already worried about their body shape. Moreover, serotonin and cortisol work against each other. If our body can’t keep a balance between them, either one of them goes up or down will bring us to stress-led obesity.
Smile every day to keep obesity away
It’s clear that each type of hormone has its unique function. So the best way to get healthy and an optimal body shape is not to take out any one of them but to maintain their balance. How? Here are some suggestions:
Exercises: Doing exercise not only burns excessive calories but also increases dopamine and endorphins, the 2 substances secreted from our brain to make us happy. Rhythmic and repetitive exercises, in particular, can increase serotonin and thus help fight leptin including cortisol and insulin.
Interests: Flower arrangement, cooking, yoga and meditation are some of the popular interests people like to take up in recent years. They help improve concentration, make us feel relaxed and less stressful. When stress is put under control, cortisol and insulin level can also be maintained.
Outdoor activities: Research points out¹ that the morning sun helps stimulate serotonin secretion. We can also absorb vitamin D from sunlight to strengthen our immune system.
Probably, everyone knows how to get our health back on track but few actually act on it. So let’s walk the talk from today for better health for the rest of our life!
Source: Yahoo Hong Kong x AXA LIVE/LIFE website
¹ Information from BBC News: https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/trad/science-58492398 (Chinese version only)