Two University of Florida health researchers have uncovered an interesting phenomenon regarding body fat. It now looks as though our fat actually ‘talks’ to our brains by sending signals that affect our metabolism and how we deal with stress.

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The exact pathway of those signals is still being discovered, but the researchers believe uncovering this information could help to stop a vicious cycle. Stress makes us eat more, and more fat makes us more stressed out, leading to obesity. It turns out that having too much fat can impair the body’s response to stress.

James Herman, Ph.D., a co-author of the study and professor in the department of behavioral neurosciences and psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati, says:

“It moved our understanding of stress control to include more parts of the body. Before this, everyone thought that the regulation of stress was mainly due to the brain. It’s not just the brain.” He explains that there are many more components controlling metabolism than researchers originally assumed.

Another researcher found that a glucocorticoid receptor in fat tissue affects the way the body controls stress and metabolism. This may be even more reason for people to stay active and reduce their stress levels, since the less we move, the more likely we are to become obese, and in turn become extremely stressed out. This is like a one-two punch to the physiological systems, since both obesity and stress are two of the biggest killers.

In one study, stress and depression alone caused people to be 48 percent more likely to die or have a heart attack, creating a “psychosocial perfect storm,” and now 1 in 5 deaths in America can be attributed to obesity.

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The good news? Every minute of exercise you engage in can increase your lifespan – even if you are already in your 60s or 70s. My advice? Stop reading this, and go for a walk outside. You’ll reduce stress and live longer.

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