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How Owning A Pet Can Improve Your Overall Health – PART 2

Pets can improve your emotional health. They give unconditional love and are always happy to see you. They shower you with love and attention.

This is PART 2 in a series on How Owning A Pet Can Improve Your Overall Health

CLICK HERE for PART 1

Knowing that you have someone who loves you at home gives you a sense of security and stability. Even if the rest of your world is chaos at the moment, having a loving relationship—even if it’s with a pet—can keep you grounded enough to cope. People with loving relationships toward their pets (it doesn’t count if you find them to be a burden or nuisance) also are more likely to be more confident in their day-to-day lives and have higher self-esteem.

Here are some specific ways pets can improve your emotional health

  1. Being around animals improves your mood. Throw a ball for a dog. Pet a bunny. Watch a fish swim or a turtle mosey around. You’ll feel calmer and less frantic.
  2. Just interacting with a pet can decrease the stress-inducing hormone cortisol and increase the feel-good hormone serotonin. You already know (from what you read in PART 1 of this series) that owning a pet can lead lower blood pressure. But that’s especially true during times of high mental stress, when pet owners are more likely to keep a lid on their blood pressure. .
  3. Pets make you feel happy. You know that gooey feeling you get when you stare deeply into your pet’s eyes and it lovingly stares back? That triggers the same hormonal feedback loop that a mother and her newborn baby feel when they gaze at one another. This release of oxytocin, also known as the love hormone, helps you bond to your pet and vice versa. It makes you feel happy, secure, and well. If you feel like your pet is your best friend—or even your child—now you know why.
  4. Growing up with a pet helps children develop empathy. Parents have long used pets to teach their children the responsibilities of physically taking care of someone else. Research shows that is just the start, because having a pet also improves kids’ emotional intelligence. The bonding hormones discussed above help children relate to a creature other than themselves. That helps kids learn to care for the feelings of their pet in addition to their physical needs. These lessons in empathy will help kids relate better to humans as they grow up. Children who have higher emotional intelligence tend to be more successful later in life.

PART 3 will discuss how Owning A Pet Can Improve Your Mental Health

 

SIX WAYS SLEEP DEPRIVATION CAN LEAD TO WEIGHT GAIN

Most people know they should cut calories and exercise more to trim down, but there’s now significant scientific evidence that another critical component to maintaining your natural normal weight  is avoiding sleep deprivation, sleep scientists say.

“There is no doubt that insufficient sleep promotes hunger and appetite, which can cause excessive food intake resulting in weight gain,” says Eve Van Cauter, director of the Sleep, Metabolism and Health . She has spent 15 years studying the topic.

Here are six specific ways sleep deprivation is linked to weight gain.

  1. When you are running on low energy, you automatically go for a bag of potato chips or other comfort foods.
  2. Ghrelin is the hormone that tells you when to eat, and when you are sleep-deprived, you have more ghrelin.
  3. Leptin is the hormone that tells you to stop eating, and when you are sleep deprived, you have less leptin.
  4. The more sleep-deprived you are, the higher your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which increases your appetite.
  5. When you’re sleep deprived, the mitochondria in your cells that digest fuel start to shut down.
  6. Your body goes into survival mode. Sleeplessness can fool your body into thinking you’re in danger. Your metabolism slows because your body is trying to maintain its resources, and it also wants more fuel.

Top Ten Reasons Why Stress is Fattening

Effects of Stress

Let’s define stress first. Most people only think of psychological stress when they hear the term “stress”. Things like family or job issues, or traffic or money worries. Yes, these can certainly be stressful. There are also less obvious stressors and what I call “hidden” stressors that have the same physiological effect on the body.

Here are my TOP TEN HIDDEN STRESSORS that can affect our weight

  1. Sleep deprivation
  2. Digestive issues
  3. Nutrient depletion
  4. Chronic pain
  5. Environmental Toxins
  6. Dieting
  7. Over-exercise
  8. Hormonal imbalance
  9. Chronic infection

Chronic stress affects disrupts the daily cortisol rhythm. Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is responsible for a wide range of processes within the body including immune responses, the regulation of metabolism, and acting as an anti-inflammatory. It also plays an important role in the way in which the body responds to stress.

Cortisol levels are generally high in the morning as we wake from a prolonged period of sleep, with an increase of up to fifty percent in the twenty to thirty minutes after waking. This is known as the ‘cortisol awakening response’. Then, as the day progresses, our cortisol levels naturally begin to drop in a fairly constant and regular fashion that is termed a diurnal rhythm, ending up as low in the late evening. This allows the body to keep a regular sleeping pattern, with the cortisol level dropping for periods of sleep, then replenishing during the following morning.

When cortisol is out of balance, the body thinks it is being attacked and will conserve energy as much as possible. So stress has the following effects on the body which all contribute to weight gain.

  1. increased blood sugar
  2. increased storage of fat
  3. increased hunger
  4. increased belly fat to store as energy
  5. increased fatty acids and triglycerides in your blood
  6. increased cravings for quick energy foods (sugar)
  7. decreased immune function
  8. decreased fat burning (to conserve energy)
  9. decreased cell sensitivity to insulin so sugar stays in your blood stream
  10. decreased digestive function

So now you know why stress is fattening!

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