Health & Medicine

Drs. Oz and Roizen: Your fat chance of beating stress

In Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life,” the maitre d’ of a French restaurant (John Cleese) persuades the obese patron Mr. Creosote (Terry Jones) to have just one more after-dinner mint.

When Creosote eats the mint, he explodes all over the restaurant.

True, a healthy amount of body fat has great powers: It promotes reproductive health, good skin quality and clear thinking. Fat cells also help trigger chemical reactions that control growth, immune function and other aspects of basic metabolism.

But too much body fat (visceral fat around your organs and fat under your skin) does more than make your jeans tight. In addition, it triggers massive inflammation and increases your risk of everything from depression to cancer.

And a new study says it sets off a cascade of signals to your noggin that changes how your brain deals with stressful events and metabolism.

In short, excess body fat can interfere with your ability to turn off your stress response, putting you into cortisol-fueled, heart-damaging, immune-system-weakening, memory-decaying, food-craving overdrive. You get sucked into a vicious cycle of overeating, feeling stressed and then overeating (wrongly) to feel soothed.

The good news is that knowing this gives you a powerful way to feel more relaxed and lose weight: Get yourself on a Five-Food-Felon-free diet (no trans and little sat fat; no added sugars or syrups; and no grain that isn’t 100 percent whole); start walking 10,000 steps a day. Then your brain can start helping your body shape up and calm down.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic.