Lower stress levels for a healthier life!

STRESS wreaks havoc on our bodies, and can be annoying. For that, we can thank cortisol. This steroid hormone, which is released when you’re tense or anxious, can leave you feeling lousy, and put you at risk for becoming seriously ill.

What is cortisol?

Basically, it’s a steroid hormone produced by our adrenal glands, that’s released into our bloodstream during times of stress.

We often tend to think of cortisol as a bad thing, but it’s actually meant to be helpful.

When our cave-people ancestors were faced with a stressful or threatening situation, being chased by a wolf, for example, the release of cortisol activated the fight-or-flight response. As a result, they could act quickly to protect themselves, or, at least, try.

The problem

Today, there are lots of things that prompt the release of the hormone, from sitting in traffic, to emergency emails from our boss.

These constant stressors mean our body ends up flooded with non-stop cortisol, which can trigger a cascade of negative health effects.

How cortisol steroid works

Cortisol plays a number of roles in the body, and not all of them are bad, including maintaining healthy blood-pressure levels, regulating blood sugar, and turning food into energy.

It is responsible for maintaining the health of, and proper communication between, every cell in our body. When it is in a healthy rhythm, cortisol is highest in the morning to give us energy to get our day started, keep inflammation low, and keep immune response at its peak.

It is naturally lowest before bed, allowing us to wind down into a rest-and-repair phase. It also helps to keep us safe. When our body perceives a threat, our hypothalamus sends a signal to our adrenal glands to start pumping out hormones like cortisol. This release sets off physiological responses, designed to help us get out of danger, immediately.

Our heart rate and blood-sugar levels spike, and we start to feel anxious. And non-essential systems, like our digestive and reproductive systems, temporarily shut down. That allows our body to devote more energy and focus to helping us escape the threat.

Side effects of high cortisol levels.

Normally, all of these reactions stop when the threat goes away, and we start to relax again. But when the hormone is constantly being released because of chronic stress, we can start to run into issues.

A whopping 70% of diseases are related to stress. Chronically-high cortisol levels can weaken our immune system, increasing our risk for:

*Sleep problems (insomnia, waking in the night, waking up tired in the morning)


*Digestive issues

*Hormonal imbalances

*Anxiety and depression

*Blood sugar and metabolic problems (including sugar cravings, metabolic syndrome, PCOS and diabetes)

*Weight gain

*Decreased memory, focus and willpower

*Immune system imbalances, leading to more frequent infections reactivation of old viruses, allergies, inflammation, and even autoimmune disease

*Alzheimer’s and heart disease

Some simple lifestyle changes have been proved to help regulate cortisol levels:

*Get enough sleep. Aim for seven to eight hours a night. Poor sleep is tied to increased cortisol production. Consider cutting out caffeine and alcohol, later in the day.

*Be active. Regular movement is another must for managing stress. Lower-intensity exercise (brisk walking) is linked to lower cortisol levels.

*Curb your sugar intake. Sugar overload stresses your body, and can encourage the release of cortisol.

*Try meditative practices. Yoga, mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing.

*Numerous studies have found that contact with dogs and cats, during stressful situations, causes cortisol levels to drop.




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Posted by on Feb 7 2020. Filed under Health & Beauty. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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