Stress is the 21st century’s disease.
Stress follows us in our daily routines whether a student stresses for an exam or a husband stresses for his job interview. The brain treats all situations the same by producing Cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone.
The brain works on the “fight or flight” mechanism .It works on this mechanism since ancient times when man was hunter and gatherer ,when faced with a predator the adrenal glands would skyrocket with adrenaline and cortisol,to produce energy, in order to escape the predator .After escaping the dangerous situation cortisol levels would quickly come back down to normal ,but in our modern day situations that just doesn’t happen.
When we face anger or fear in our day and age we can’t just punch our boss in the face without getting fired .So, we have to suppress these feelings and cortisol levels remain at high levels because of this.
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, in the glucocorticoids class of hormones. When used as a medication, it is known as hydrocortisone. It is produced in humans by the zona fasciculata of the adrenal cortex within the adrenal gland.
What does Cortisol do?
Cortisol is the body’s response to cope with stress. If we face a lion without cortisol we aren’t able to flinch, we just stand there. Cortisol frees amino acids in the muscles,glucose in the liver and fatty acids in the fat tissue.
Cortisol has powerful anti-inflamatory and imunosupressive properties,both being important in regulating the normal reactions of the immune system.
Too low levels of cortisol levels leads to a condition named “Addison’s disease”. This condition is an autoimmune disease.Patients with Addison’s disease will experience fatigue, muscle loss, weight loss, mood swings and changes to the skin.But, don’t worry this condition is rare.
Here’s where the normal metabolic response should end by fighting or fleeing ,but in our days cortisol tends to stay high.
What does high cortisol do?
A syndrome,Cushing’s syndrome, characterised by high levels of cortisol all the time leads to rapid weight gain in the face, abdomen and chest;this increases visceral fat.This also causes weight gain and muscle loss.
Cushing’s syndrome also causes a flushed face, high blood pressure and changes in the skin. Osteoporosis and mood swings can occur in Cushing’s disease.
With or without Cushing’s disease high cortisol affects women’s menstrual cycle. Other factors that are linked with Cushing’s disease is anxiety and depression.
High cortisol is linked to:
– increase in appetite and desire for certain foods(usually fast-food)
– increase in the body fat percentage
– loss of muscle tissue
– lowering of bone density
– high anxiety levels
– higher depression levels
– irritability and anger
What factors raise cortisol levels and what to do to keep cortisol in check?
– stressful situations which we don’t have much control upon ,only to alter our mindset
– Sleep ,or better said lack of sleep raises cortisol levels.
Sleep is the most important factor to keep cortisol levels in check. Sleeping from from 10pm to 5 am is the most restful . The hours from 10pm to 2am are double as effective than the rest.
– Our diet is an important factor. An alkaline diet,rich in vitamins and minerals helps us maintain a lower cortisol level by covering any mineral or vitamin insufficiency.
– sports :running, fighting ,swimming,football,etc lower cortisol levels ;so go get yourself a pair of running shoes , and go drop those levels
-vacations relax us and lowers our cortisol levels
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