The Stress-Metabolic Syndrome Connection

Updated: Mar 25

During my health crisis, I had what’s known as Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic Syndrome is a combination of high triglycerides, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

It takes a multi-faceted approach to reverse Metabolic Syndrome. One of the ways is to eat lower amounts of carbs (carbohydrates) to help reduce blood sugar (glucose).


My Nurse Practitioner, said I needed to lower my blood sugar. She wanted me to eat only 90 grams of sugar a day. Ok, no big deal. I thought, “I can do this.” Until something stressful happened. I turned to sweets- not drugs. Not overspending. Not excessive exercising- yes, it’s a thing.


My ‘drug of choice’ was food. Specifically sweets. It took me a while to figure out why I couldn’t stay at 90 grams of carbs a day. Every day I would make it my goal. And every day, something stressful would happen, and I turned to food- a candy bar, donut, etc.


Before my health crisis, my body was able to burn off those extra calories. But after I started having thyroid issues- it couldn’t, and the weight packed on adding to the problem.


It wasn’t until I started taking healthy action steps that I could let go of the need for sweets to soothe my soul. Healthy action steps like...

  • Stopping, preventing, and relieving daily stressors

  • Looking at and resolving my emotional triggers

  • Doing what I needed to do for myself (self-care, setting boundaries, forgiving & letting go, etc.)

Making these healthy habits- consistently- lowered my carb intake. Over time, I was able to reverse the Metabolic Syndrome.


WHAT IS METABOLIC SYNDROME

Stress (past or present) plays a significant role in the set-up of Metabolic Syndrome. During periods of stress, the body releases cortisol. This hormone switches off certain body functions like the digestive system, reproductive system, and more during the ‘fight or flight’ sympathetic stress response.

During periods of stress, one of the functions of cortisol is to increase blood pressure.

Cortisol also increases the glucose (sugar) in our blood. The purpose is to provide fuel our muscles for the ‘fight or flight.’ However, our body doesn’t know whether our stress is from a situation at work, lack of funds or if we’re being chased.

Most of our stressors don’t require us to have a physical response. Instead, our stressors are internal. The blood sugar circulating in our blood doesn’t get used and then is stored as fat. We don’t need to run away from something- extra blood pumping to our muscles- instead, we’re stressed at work, at home, and the constant stress keeps the blood pressure raised.


The problem is from chronic or ongoing stress. The cycle mentioned above repeats over and over- until we stop it by making consistent healthy choices. Taking healthy action steps.



Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome

  1. Prehypertension or hypertension (high blood pressure)

  2. Insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or diabetes II

  3. Obesity

  4. Difficulty losing weight

Relieving or preventing stress helps to reverse Metabolic Syndrome.

Stress-related health conditions develop when we are in a constant state of stress. The sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) response is continually activated (switched on). In other words, when there is excess cortisol flooding our body and switching off or suppressing normal- and needed- daily functions.


I could spend a lot of time sharing about how detrimental chronic stress is to our health. Check out some of the links in the post (below) for more information if you aren’t convinced yet.


I like to keep my posts short so let’s move on to the healthy action part.


Did any of this resonate with you? Take action.


Carpe Diem (make the most of the present time)

Here are some steps you can do -- right now.

  1. Check out this information from WebMD.com Metabolic Syndrome Health Center

  2. Read my related blog posts below.

  3. Seek help with the process if you get stuck.