I’m not a doctor, nor a biological scientist, but I do know that people under stress produce a hormone called cortisol, which helps the body deal with a stressful event by increasing energy and immunity and even lowering sensitivity to pain. That might explain, for example, how someone with a broken leg can still walk to get help for those more seriously injured.
However, a long-term presence of cortisol in the body can be detrimental, possibly decreasing bone density, hampering thyroid functioning, raising blood pressure and – the one upsetting to most people – increasing abdominal fat and causing a big belly. Fat deposited in that area, as opposed to others (like your hips), has been linked with serious health problems, such as stroke and heart attacks. (I am giving a simplified view of cortisol; for in-depth information, speak to a medical professional.)
(I am inviting my readers to send me nonsensical shidduch questions that they have been asked, and I will put them in a future column. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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