If you listen to the news or open a newspaper these days you may feel some stress. It is a time of great uncertainty. Have you noticed that you are eating more as a result? You might be, since stress increases our appetites. The physiological systems responsible for this are meant to protect us. Here is how. When we experience stress the brain instantly signals our body to release a hormone called cortisol. This hormone tells the body to mobilize our fight or flight reflex. The heart races, blood vessels constrict. We are ready for action. Yet with chronic stress the system does not shut off. Researchers at UCSF suggest that chronic stress activates a mechanism that directs us to look for foods high in calories, fat and sugar. Without this system chronic stress would deplete our energy reserves and we would not survive very long. So though eating more may keep us going, when we do not burn these calories we store them right around our mid-sections. We should be concerned since 63% of Americans are overweight or obese. Here are some simple tools to fight the trend. When stressed, get enough sleep, eat lightly, do not drink too much alcohol and exercise. Protect your heart, body and mind by practicing moderation.