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Cortisol

Cortisol, what is it? What is it doing for you or against you?

Cortisol a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and cardiovascular function, as well as the body’s use of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  It is often called the “stress hormone” because it is secreted in higher levels during the body’s ‘fight or flight’ response to stress, and is also responsible for several stress-related changes in the body.

Small increases of cortisol have great positive effects, like a quick burst of energy for survival reasons, heightened memory functions, burst of increased immunity, lower sensitivity to pain.  Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream (like those associated with chronic stress) have some not so good effects, like impaired cognitive performance, suppressed thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances, decreased bone density, decrease in muscle tissue, higher blood pressure, lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body and increased abdominal fat, which is associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. Some of the health problems associated with increased stomach fat are heart attacks, strokes, the development of higher levels of “bad” cholesterol (LDL) and lower levels of “good” cholesterol (HDL).

So basically, we’ve got to do our best to keep cortisol levels under control. How?

We can start by trying to make lifestyle changes in order to keep our bodies from reacting to stress in the first place. If that’s impossible, then we have to learn how to activate our body’s relaxation response after the fight or flight response occurs.  There are various stress management techniques available to us, and these ones have been very helpful to many in relaxing the body and mind, aiding the body in maintaining healthy cortisol levels: praying, guided imagery, journaling, exercise, listening to Music, breathing exercises, meditation, sex :).

 

So, what are you going to do about your cortisol levels?

 

What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a hormone that helps regulate blood pressure and cardiovascular function, as well as the body’s use of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. When your body experiences stress, it produces cortisol during the “fight or flight”response.

In itself, cortisol is positive as it helps the body deal with stress by granting quick burst of energy, heightening memory functions and lowering sensitivity to pain. But in today’s world where most people deal with stress 24/7, levels of cortisol get too high and stay too long in the bloodstream, and this can have negative effects on our bodies: poor cognitive performance, messed up blood sugars, suppressed thyroid function, decreased bone density and muscle tissue, and lots of other ailments, one of these being increased abdominal fat associated with a greater amount of health problems than fat deposited in other areas of the body. No fun…

So we go back to the issue of dealing with stress rather than ignoring it.

In order to keep cortisol levels healthy and under control, we need to make the necessary lifestyle changes that will allow our bodies to either not experience too much stress (good luck with that one!) or activate a relaxation response after the fight or flight response does occur.  And there is your permission to

laugh,

take a bubble bath,

read a magazine,

buy flowers,

breathe deeply,

work up a sweat,

make love,

go for a walk, 

meditate,

play,

and smile…

Tell them Barb told you to!    

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