Ryan Ahern

Cortisol In Hair Samples Prove Stress Is Why You're Gaining Weight

The first thing you usually notice about someone is their hair.

Hair can tell a lot about a person, and Lady Gaga even has a song about it.

What you may not know is, scientists can identify how stressed out you've been and if that stress is the cause of unwanted weight gain just by studying your luscious locks.

In a recent study done by scientists at University College London, they found that when the hormone cortisol was present in strands of hair, it often coincided with people who were overweight.

That means if you are working a high-stress, 80-hour-a-week job, you're almost guaranteed to gain weight and have a harder time sweating it off.

It has been said by health professionals for many years that the hormone cortisol causes you to store fat. That's because when you're stressed, your body goes into flight-or-fight mode to prepare itself for an attack.

And when you reach a high stress level, you tend to overeat because your body believes you've expended calories to deal with said stress, even though you haven't.

This would all be great if we were actually out in the wild hunting for food or hiding from predators, but because we sit in front of computers every day, all that extra fat won't do you much good.

On top of that, most of us stress eat to relieve anxiety, which can be exacerbated by weight gain.

In the past, studies measured cortisol levels through blood, saliva and urine.

The problem with using those samples is, the amount of cortisol varies depending on what time of day researchers took them, so they are not as accurate or reliable as hair strands.

Now that these brilliant scientists found a way to more accurately measure your cortisol levels, doctors can use that data to better help their patients with weight-loss and stress management.

Lead researcher Dr. Sarah Jackson (UCL Epidemiology and Public Health), told Science Daily,

These results provide consistent evidence that chronic stress is associated with higher levels of obesity. People who had higher hair cortisol levels also tended to have larger waist measurements, which is important because carrying excess fat around the abdomen is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and premature death.

So, if you are trying to lose weight, but the scale just won't budge, you may want to look at how much stress is affecting your life.

When you can't completely avoid anxiety-inducing situations, try to find ways to relieve the stress.

Give yourself a real lunch break, go to a meditation group or simply stop saying, "yes" to every event or project offered to you and let yourself live a little.

Your happiness, health and waistline depend on it.