Friday, June 02, 2006

More Stress, Depression & Health

More and more studies seem to link chronic stress to a host of health problems, that all intertwine with each other. One would really think that librarians would be very unstressed people, in a low-stress job. But I, and most of the librarians I know, really put a lot of stress on ourselves. It's certainly lower stress than law practice, at least most of the time. But I know more librarians with migraines, and that has to tell you something.

Here link is a fairly accessible website about the links between:

Chronic Stress -- Body Fat (especially around the abdomen) -- Inflammatory Diseases

It is a commercial site, so please take with a grain of salt their sales pitch for their all-natural cure for the problem. But they do a good job of explaining the problem, and giving real footnotes to real studies of the problem, which is summarized:

* A diet high in refined carbohydrates and other "fabricated" foods leads to both increased weight and increased inflammation.

* Excess weight itself causes chronic inflammation.

* Chronic inflammation contributes to more insulin resistance, leptin resistance, and other metabolic disorders. It also decreases favorable adiponectin and increases unfavorable resistin.

* Insulin resistance and leptin resistance stimulate accumulation of more weight, make weight loss more difficult, and induce hyperandrogenism (excessive levels of male hormones) and other symptoms of PCOS.

* The added weight induces more inflammation and thus more insulin and leptin resistance, which in turn prevents you from burning off fat stores, and causes you to store even more fat.

Here is the vicious cycle of obesity and leptin resistance: Extra fat produces chronic, low-grade inflammation. The chronic inflammation produces a chronic anti-inflammatory response, led by SOCS molecules. The SOCS response stops leptin from reducing obesity. So weight goes up, which causes more inflammation. And the cycle starts all over again.

Here is an abstract from PubMed link, "The Association Between Burnout, and Depression, Inflammation Biomarkers" by Sharon Toker, et al., 10 J. Occup. Health Psych. No. 4, pp. 344-362 (2005).

Briefly, they found gender differences in responses. Women displayed biomarkers for inflammation when they were burned out, but not when they were anxious. Men, on the other hand, displayed biomarkers for inflammation when they were depressed, but not when they were anxious or burned out. The study looked at 630 women and 933 men.

Another abstract, link, from J. Psychosom. Res. 2002 Jan;52(1):1-23, "Stress, inflammation and cardiovascular disease," by Black PH, Garbutt LD, finds chronic stress to contribute to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

And yet another abstract link, Gastroenterology. 2002 Oct;123(4):1099-108, "Chronic stress induces mast cell-dependent bacterial adherence and initiates mucosal inflammation in rat intestine," Soderholm JD, et al.

(Wow! that's a title!) Nevertheless,
These findings suggest that chronic psychological stress can be an initiating factor in intestinal inflammation by impairing mucosal defenses against luminal bacteria ....

So, What's a Stressed, Depressed, and Tubby Person to do? That first link has some pretty good basic advice:

How to Break the Diet-Inflammation-Overweight Vicious Cycle

You can break this vicious cycle with three simple actions:

* Eat a healthy diet (snip)

* Get regular exercise.

* Remove or control sources of chronic stress.

The above measures will:

* Help you lose fat weight.
* Improve insulin resistance and leptin resistance.
* Reduce inflammation.

The healthy diet does not have to be a commercial diet (I snipped out the website's little self-promotion). Just eat more vegetables and fruit, more whole grains. Eat less processed carbohydrates, less sugar and other sweets and a LOT less fat.

The exercise is good news, too. You don't have to get all hot and sweaty, or do 30 minutes all at once. It turns out that if you stroll for a total of 20 - 30 minutes every day (not all at once, but in bits through the day), it counts. It's better to get the heart rate up 3 times a week, but if you have joint issues or just hate to exercise, know that just parking a little farther away in the parking lot gets you some points. Walking around the block once in the morning and once in the evening at a leisurely pace counts. All this stuff from my youth of No Pain No Gain turned out to be a bunch of HOOEY! Yay!

And if you can walk outside, preferably someplace pleasant and with somebody you like (even your dog), it will cheer your heart. You'll feel better right away, I promise!

1 comment:

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