Modern life is stressful. We constantly have important things in our mind. Due dates, exams, children, long working days, etc. You know how it is, and you know how it feels when that stresses you out, but if you do not know what is happening inside your body when you are experiencing a frustrating situation, this is what's happening: your levels cortisol They rise, and with it comes certain effects if not maintained, can cause chronic conditions.
When you are stressed, the hypothalamus, a small region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. This causes nerve and hormonal signals boost your adrenal glands located on top of the kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.
What is cortisol and what it does?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, more specifically a glucocorticoid that is secreted by the adrenal glands (a hormone is a chemical that is performed on a body part, but passes into the bloodstream and have effects on other body parts) .
We have two small adrenal glands that are on top of each kidney. We all need to live cortisol, and small doses delivered in the body can have positive effects, such as:
- Help the body balance the effect of insulin to keep blood sugar at the right level and the use of sugar and fat for energy
- Help the body respond to stress control and
- Help regulate blood pressure
- Help regulate the immune system
However, the continued high level of cortisol in your body has negative effects. The condition in which the level of cortisol in your body is too high for a long period of time, is called Cushing's syndrome.
Some causes of Cushing's syndrome include:
- Chronic stress - Cortisol is also known as the "stress hormone".
- Adrenal problems - There are several rare disorders of the adrenal glands that can cause high levels of cortisol.
- steroid medications - Some people taking steroid medications that are similar to cortisol.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol.
- severe depression.
What are the symptoms of high cortisol levels (Cushing's syndrome)?
Mood swings - such as being more irritable, depressed or anxious than normal.
It is normal to feel moody or low from time to time, but if you feel like you were constantly depressed and / or anxious, then you could be experiencing the consequences of long-term effects on the production of cortisol, serotonin and dopamine.
High levels of cortisol, causes energy is removed from the gastrointestinal tract, decreases the production of the necessary enzymes to digest food, and reduces the absorption of minerals and nutrients. And in fact stress is one of the reasons that the digestive system to malfunction.
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Heart disease and high blood pressure
As we have learned, high levels of cortisol, can be caused by a stressful lifestyle. Too much stress can raise blood pressure, which can in turn lead to an increased risk of heart disease.
Cortisol production is naturally high in the morning to help wake up. However, people who chronically stressed their adrenals to overproduce cortisol, cortisol alter their concentrations so that it is low in the morning when they wake up, instead of high.
Cortisol stimulates appetite and cravings for sweet foods dense in calories and high carbohydrate foods. So if you have high cortisol levels in your body for a long period of time, chances are you're going to want to eat fat and high calorie foods.
Skin aging and wrinkles
As if high levels of cortisol did not do enough damage inside, also dehydrates the skin. Dehydrated skin means premature wrinkling.
Other symptoms include:
- Aches and pains - especially back pain.
- Increased susceptibility to infections - cortisol can weaken the effectiveness of the immune system
- facial hair in women.
- You can sign purple / pink stretching (striae) appear - similar to those seen in some pregnant women.
In most cases (apart from when steroid medication is the cause), symptoms develop gradually. The diagnosis is often unclear for quite some time, because most of the symptoms can also be caused by other common problems.
It is worth noting that the fact that you may be experiencing one or even some of these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have high levels of cortisol. The above symptoms may be associated with other medical conditions. It is always best to visit your doctor if you are worried about how you feel.
If you feel like you're experiencing any of these symptoms, then it may be time to take a look at your lifestyle and ways you can modify them in order to reduce your levels of cortisol.
How to lower cortisol production
A good workout is a natural stress buster. If I feel frustrated or angry, then I know running is safe to clear my head. Exercise also helps increase muscle mass and increase the brain's production of serotonin and dopamine, which are brain chemicals that reduce anxiety and depression.
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Cut the Caffeine
200 mg of caffeine is said to increase cortisol levels in the blood by 30% in one hour. Try alternative drinks without caffeine for two weeks and see how you feel.
A deeper and longer sleep
A good night's sleep allows your body relax and reduce cortisol levels. If you have trouble sleeping, you can read these articles:
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You did not sleep well at night? Consider these things before going to bed
14 Natural remedies for the treatment of insomnia.
Keep your blood sugar stable blood
Both donuts and cookies are delicious, try to avoid eating too much of them. Too much refined sugar and simple carbohydrates raise insulin production.
Enjoy eating little and often, and food that is balanced in protein, complex carbohydrates and good fats like olive oil, nuts and seeds (nuts and seeds have amazing health benefits).
Diets rich in complex carbohydrates keep cortisol levels lower than the low-carbohydrate diets.
Make sure you stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Drink a glass when you wake up and before you go to bed, help keep your cortisol levels down.
Taking supplements anti-stress
B vitamins, minerals such as calcium, magnesium and chromium, zinc and antioxidants such as vitamin C, alpha lipoic acid, grape seed extract, and CoQ 10 complex.
There are a number of plants and herbs that can be used to treat stress and anxiety such as St. John's wort, chamomile and oats.
Meditate or listen to relaxation tapes
When it comes to relax and reduce cortisol levels go calm with soft music or mediation.
It's easy to get stuck in a stressful lifestyle. We can not always help our circumstances and what we have to face. However, you can take methods, as above, to help you cope with stress, and therefore keep cortisol levels low.
But for now, you do not have to do anything drastic. Just take a deep breath, light some scented candles and relax. Life is too short to suffer for small things. For more useful information on how to relieve stress and anxiety see these articles:
What is anxiety and how we can learn from it?
7 Questions you should ask yourself the next time you feel intense anxiety
6 Nutritional Steps to prevent depression due to lack of Serotonin
Researched and written by equipment Lucid Life