Your “Stress Hormone”
Today I want to talk about a hormone that gets a lot of attention and has gotten a “bad” reputation…
Cortisol is a steroid hormone and one of its main jobs in your body is to keep inflammation from getting out of control. It’s bad reputation comes from the label of “stress hormone.” While it is true that when cortisol is too high or too low, there are problems that abound, it’s not the villain it’s made out to be.
It is essentially a survival hormone responsible for regulating major biological processes including:
- Metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and protein
- Responsiveness of your immune system to infection & inflammation
- Your hormonal balance
- Sex drive & reproduction
- Your thyroid hormone production
Cortisol is meant to be secreted by your adrenal glands in a daily, rhythmic fashion, called a diurnal pattern. It’s highest in the morning when you want and need the most energy, and as the day progresses your cortisol level should taper.
In addition to this daily cortisol rhythm, cortisol production and release are increased whenever your stress response gets activated due to external or internal stressors. It could be a life issue, threatening situation, infection, blood sugar dysregulation, sluggish detoxification, or other overwhelming challenge to your resilience or reserves.
Cortisol gets mobilized for protection and your sympathetic nervous system is activated. This is your fight, flight, and freeze response. Blood pressure, blood sugar, heart rate, and inflammation all increase as well.
When responding to a temporary threat, this system works with perfect elegance. When the threat is over, your body resets relatively quickly to its former state, leaving no lasting consequences. FYI, you are hardwired to withstand a significant amount of stress in acute situations.
Your stress response works perfectly until it’s triggered too often, or just doesn’t turn off, meaning you barely get a rest from being on high alert. That’s when all of these protective responses become liabilities.
At the root of our twenty-first century chronic health issues is, not surprisingly, a modern chronic problem. We rarely ever “turn off.” And therefore neither does our stress response, which is where all of the trouble begins…
Your brain and body can actually get stuck in survival mode. Believe it our not, you can also get addicted to the stress hormones of cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. This has both short-term and long-term consequences.
As well as all of the symptoms listed above, here are some additional problems that result from stress overload:
- Chronic anxiety, overwhelm, and sleep problems
- Brain Fog
- Digestive problems
- Sugar, fat, and salt cravings
- Increased belly fat
- Hormonal problems
- Metabolic syndrome and high blood pressure
- Immune system problem and autoimmune disease
- Infamm-aging – premature aging + inflammation
Managing your cortisol levels is a critical part of optimal health and fitness.
If you’re interested in learning how your hormones actually work and how to get them to work for you so you can eliminate nagging symptoms like:
- Weight Loss Resistance
- Low Energy
- Poor Sleep
- No/Low Sex Drive
- Mood Swings
- Hot Flashes
- Gastrointestinal Issues
By the way, cortisol is just one of FIVE key hormones if you want to learn more about the comprehensive at home hormone test I do as a Functional Health Practitioner, CLICK HERE.
Lastly, this weekend, carve out some time to rest, to do things that you enjoy, to turn off your stress response, and allow your body to shift into a state of healing. 🙂