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How Talking Politics Makes You Fat

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How Talking Politics Makes You Fat

When we were raising our family, the dinner table was always a place for lively discussion. We’d talk with the kids about their day, current events, local issues, interests — you name it. Through dinner-table conversations we discovered big gaps in the kids’ educations and found out about their friends.

I’ve always enjoyed lively discussions. (What I call a “discussion” others have tagged as “debates,” “confrontations” and “arguments”. Did I mention I like my discussions lively?)

Recently, though, I’ve banned political discussion at the dinner table. Why? Because I figured out the “lively” part of it was helping to keep me sick and fat.

How Can Talking Make You Fat?

It’s not the talking that does it. It’s the lively discussions of things you feel strongly about. Because, when you feel strongly, your stress levels increase. And stress does terrible things for your digestion and your overall well being, unless you’re running away from a predator at the moment, in which case stress is very good.

I guess Emily Post and all those etiquette people knew what they were talking about when they decreed that religion and politics weren’t appropriate for the dinner table.

When you’re under stress, blood flow is diverted from your digestive system to the muscles (you know, to help you run away from that tiger). This slows down digestion which creates some immediate problems. (Think, half-digested food just sitting there. . . and sitting there. . . and sitting there. Yuck.)

There are also longer-term problems which are even more serious.

Stress Hormones

The major stress hormones are adrenaline and cortisol. Adrenaline is short term. It gives you that extra surge of energy for running or fighting.

Cortisol is the long-term stress hormone. It’s produced in the adrenal gland, and factors strongly in aging and degenerative diseases. Excess cortisol has been associated with weight gain, diabetes, heart attack, high blood pressure, depression, brain damage, dementia, osteoporosis and depressed immunity.

When stress lasts longer than a few minutes, cortisol actually turns off other hormones and bodily functions that detract from the “fight or flight” response.

Among the functions that are shut down during stress — healing. Your damaged intestinal lining, or leaky gut, for example, won’t have a chance to get better when you’re under stress.

Another effect of too much cortisol is you start craving sweets and snack foods because the hormone that controls your appetite is suppressed. Then the extra cortisol causes you to store more of those extra calories as fat in your mid-section.

Leaky gut

If you have leaky gut — and apparently about 80% of Americans do — that creates a huge stress on your body all by itself.

(If you missed the first part of my series in leaky gut, you can find it here.)

There are steps you can take to heal your leaky gut.

  • Eliminate gluten and other food allergens
  • Take a good quality probiotic
  • Treat infections and overgrowth of yeast and other bad bugs
  • Eat whole, unprocessed foods
  • Support intestinal healing

That last item, support intestinal healing? You can’t do it if you’re always stressed.

While talking politics at the dinner table probably isn’t the most stressful thing you do all day, it’s one of the easiest to change.

And while you’re thinking about that, think of other ways you can reduce stress in your daily life.

How do you handle the things that stress you out? Leave a comment by clicking the link above this post.

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