OK, this should be a fun one. I talk about the stress response a lot and its effects on our bodies, but lets look at what specifically Cortisol (The Stress Hormone) does to ourselves.
Cortisol is a hormone, which is mainly released at times of stress and has many important functions in your body. Having the right cortisol balance is essential for human health and you can have problems if your adrenal gland releases too much or too little cortisol.
What is cortisol?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands which sit on top of each kidney. When released into the bloodstream, cortisol can act on many different parts of the body and can help:
your body respond to stress or danger
increase your body’s metabolism of glucose
control your blood pressure
Cortisol is also needed for the fight or flight response which is a healthy, natural response to perceived threats. The amount of cortisol produced is highly regulated by your body to ensure the balance is correct.
What triggers the adrenal glands to produce cortisol?
STRESS, physical, chemical and emotional trigger release of cortisol. Cortisol production by the adrenal glands is regulated by the pituitary glands. The pituitary is a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain that is sometimes referred to as the "master gland" because of its wider effects on the body.
When you wake up, exercise or you’re facing a stressful event, your pituitary gland reacts. It sends a signal to the adrenal glands to produce just the right quantity of cortisol.
Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease... The list goes on and on.
Chronic stress and elevated cortisol levels also increase risk for depression, mental illness, and lower life expectancy.
Whats the Big Deal?
Living today has increased stress, physical, chemical and emotional stresses are at all time highs. Many people are living daily in a state of STRESS RESPONSE, which can lead to many different and serious health concerns. Too many chemicals in our foods, drinks, air, etc. Sitting all day is actually a physical stress (we were not created to sit all day), mentally, our children are more stressed than any other generation in our history. Stress is higher for everyone in this generation.
What can we do to reduce Cortisol levels?
Lots of things can help reduce stress levels and in turn, cortisol levels. Being a chiropractor, getting adjusted is shown to reduce cortisol levels instantly, but there are many other ways, exercise, yoga, meditation, music, reading, and on and on. Ergonomics can help reduce physical stress, improving our diets can reduce many chemical stresses, and doing whatever makes you happy and calm will help reduce emotional stress.