Cortisol is a hormone you may have heard of recently. This is a hormone we need to maintain life and is the main hormone released in a fight or flight situation. Two of the main functions of cortisol is the regulation of blood sugar levels and to help reduce inflammation but to put it simply, it is the stress hormone. How is it bad? Well, due to high stress lifestyles, the adrenal glands are under constant pressure to release cortisol which are body is not adapted too. If we stay in this alert state for prolonged periods it time, it means we always feel switched on. Heart rate and blood pressure will be high, and even our digestion will be affected.
Chronic high cortisol levels can lead to:
- Weakens the immune system
- Increases body fat (especially in the abdominal region) and reduces the body’s ability to burn fat
- Over time can lead to muscular atrophy
- Increase in anxiety levels
- Trouble sleeping
- Brain fog
- Lower levels of good bacteria
When under constant stress, the body can reach its limit. This is known as adrenal gland fatigue. This is when the body cannot respond in the correct manner to the long term stressors a person may be experiencing and in return it struggles to produce cortisol.
Lowered levels of cortisol usually relate to:
- Inability to think clearly
- Irregular blood sugar levels
- Noticeable levels of fatigue above the norm
- Suppressed immune function
- Total body inflammation
- Changes in mood
Cortisol is an essential hormone and we need it but when it is constantly released at a high level that’s when the problems occur. This makes it imperative that we find ways to lower the stress in our life. This can be through means of exercise, yoga, meditation, proper nutrition, breathing techniques or even just taking some time daily to do the things that you enjoy. Lowering stress in life will lead to healthier cortisol levels and a healthier lifestyle overall.
As mentioned before, cortisol is essential which means that there of course a range of positive effects! Next week we will be discussing the positive effects of cortisol and the benefits it has to your body!