Stress is one of the major afflictions of the modern age. The effects it has on the body can be far reaching, and many illnesses and sufferings we go through these days can be traced back to stress.
That begs the question: what about cholesterol and stress? Is there a connection, and can stress have a negative effect on your cholesterol levels as well?
In this article we’ll investigate the effects of stress on cholesterol. We’ll see what modern research and studies have revealed, and what you can do about it.
Job Stress Raises Cholesterol?
Let’s dive right into a report published on the Mail Online a few years ago, about research done in Spain on 90,000 people. This is a big sample, so it bodes well for some definitive results. To summarize the findings of this research: it found that people under more job stress had a negative cholesterol imbalance, meaning more bad cholesterol and less good cholesterol. The basic result was that people with job stress was 10% more likely to have abnormal cholesterol levels.
Seems pretty clear that stress can be bad for cholesterol then? Well, not quite so clear yet. Unfortunately, the NHS in the UK soon pointed out some flaws in this study. The most glaring one is that the study did not take diet into account. A bad diet is one of the major contributors to unhealthy cholesterol levels, so that left this otherwise solid study with a big sample strength dead in the water.
We’ll clearly have to find some better evidence than that, so let’s keep looking.
Why Would Stress Increase Cholesterol Levels?
Stress activates the body’s fight-or-flight response. When this happens, cortisol and adrenaline are released for increased blood flow should your body need it. Cortisol also gives you shot of glucose, raising your blood sugar levels. Since your body is not in a state of high energy consumption as anticipated, these sugars are left unused and ends up producing more triglycerides, which raises cholesterol levels.
Or something to that effect. Point being, stress sets off a chain reaction in your body that inevitably leads to higher cholesterol levels.
Now, let’s try to find some more studies to back that up.
Strangely enough, in the Far East…
…two studies made on victims of a poisoning incident found no significant link between PTSD and cholesterol. Similarly, a study done on white-collar workers in Taiwan have found no consistent association between their job related stress and their total cholesterol levels.
Maybe the difference in diets could account for a less severe reaction observed in these studies. It is very interesting, but not conclusive. Let’s look further.
A 1992 study found that mental stress and bad posture significantly increased cholesterol. It also concluded that mental stress rapidly caused these increases.
In another study at University College London, 200 government workers were given stress tests to perform. The study found that the stress test raised cholesterol for everyone, in different levels.
Very significantly though, in the followup three years later, they found that the people with the highest cholesterol response to the tests also had the highest rises in cholesterol after three years. While these were found to be largely down to body weight, it hints at the fact that people who struggle to cope with stress may also struggle to maintain a healthy body weight, and that is a major contributor to cholesterol.
This proves that stress indeed affects cholesterol levels, often indirectly due to the other mental and physical effects it has on the body, and that it can even be predicted to increase over time as people deal with everyday stressful situations.
If you ever needed a motivator to reduce stress in your life, that should be it. There is a cumulative effect taking place as long as you remain under stress, or have overly stressful reactions to challenging periods or events in your life. All that stress and the response your body has ups your cholesterol levels.
Before I give you a few pointers for reducing stress, let’s quickly conclude this article. So, the question was, does stress raise cholesterol levels?
While there are many factors at play here, I think a yes answer is fair. The chain of reactions caused in the body by stress fits the bill for an increase in cholesterol, while we have also seen that stress can have a cumulative effect over time it it leads to increase in body weight, for example.
So, lose the stress if you want to easier keep your cholesterol balances at a healthy level.
There are a few ways you can reduce stress, and in doing so, of course, make your cholesterol management that much easier.
The first stress buster is exercise. Yep, for some people it’s a pain, but regular exercise helps you to relax while burning up those excess sugars produced during stressful times. Remember, you don’t need to hit the gym for an hour. Just do something active – mow the lawn (not on one of those little tractors!), grab a shovel and clean out some weeds, walk around the block a few times. Just get moving.
Meditation is another way to help your body chill out. It is tough to learn at first, but the more you do it, the more you will realize the benefits that just 15 minutes or so of quiet time for your mind can have on your stressed out body.
You may also wish to cut down on coffee. It can increase the effects of anxiety and stress, and there is also another coffee and cholesterol connection.
Finally, to help yourself control your cholesterol even better, Choleslo is a good supplement that have produced great results for many people.