Does stress lead to metabolic disease?

Diabetes is a metabolic disorder with many possible causes. Studies show that psychological stress also plays a role.

High demands at work, time pressure or conflicts in personal life. there are many reasons why people get stressed. The reaction of the body is always the same. Pulse and breathing become faster, muscles tense, pupils dilate, while digestion slows. The body is on alert. What saved our ancestors’ lives when they were running from wild animals is now more of a health risk as chronic stress affects our metabolism. Professional Association of German Internists (BDI) warns. Blood sugar and blood pressure go up due to stress and can stay high. This can lead to cardiovascular disease, and chronic stress also plays a role in the metabolic disease diabetes.

Studies show that stress can trigger type 2 diabetes

An emphatic man in a blue shirt stands on the subway and touches his temples with his fingers (symbolic image).
Stress increases blood sugar levels. It is possible that long-term stress can even contribute to diabetes (symbolic image). © Westend61/Imago

Evidence of this is, among other things, a study by Tel Aviv University, in which 677 working women and men participated. For the study, the study authors used a questionnaire to check whether study participants were suffering from burnout, a chronic fatigue syndrome. In addition, the researchers looked at whether the subjects developed type 2 diabetes within three to five years. Participants with burnout were found to have a 1.8-fold increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even after controlling for other risk factors for diabetes, such as age, sex, body mass index, smoking, and alcohol consumption. and physical activity.

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Also, the scientific group, Professor Dr. Karl-Heinz Ludwig from the Helmholtz Zentrum München was able to demonstrate the link between stress and the development of type 2 diabetes in two large studies (KORA and Monica). Both studies examined the health status of the population of Augsburg for more than 20 years. People with high levels of workplace stress had a 45 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Ladwig said in an interview. Federal Ministry of Education and Research explained.

Stress can make existing diabetes worse

Scientists see this as evidence that stress is an independent risk factor for diabetes. Anyone who is constantly under mental stress should pay attention to their body, check their blood levels regularly, and exercise. Because physical activity helps prevent diabetes. It should be loud for 30 minutes German Diabetes Foundation daily at least. Exercise makes cells more sensitive to insulin, blood sugar is converted directly into energy, and blood sugar levels drop.

Even if you already have diabetes, it’s important to reduce stress. This is because stress activates the sympathetic nervous system (parts of the brain and adrenal cortex), which produces a number of stress hormones. Above all, cortisol, norepinephrine, and adrenaline. These hormones cause blood sugar and fat levels to rise and reduce the effect of insulin, making diabetes more difficult to treat. Therefore, it is especially important for diabetics to avoid stress or learn appropriate stress coping strategies.

For example, the following are suitable:

  • Autogenic learning
  • Breathing exercises
  • Mindfulness exercises such as “body scans”
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Progressive muscle weakness

This article contains only general information on the relevant health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. It in no way replaces a doctor’s visit. Our editorial team is not allowed to answer individual questions about medical conditions.

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