• Deanne Panday

Cortisol- #1 Health Enemy

Often known as the stress hormone, cortisol works as a key player in the body's stress response and is often measured in as an indicator of stress. Cortisol plays a vital role in the body’s functioning. Although, elevated levels of cortisol poses a threat to our health. Our bodies are equipped to deal with a baseline level of stress, thanks to our adrenal glands. The problem is that when regular stress starts to spike, your adrenals have a tough time managing stress smoothly. And that's where cortisol comes into the picture.

What really is cortisol?

Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps us manage serious threats. In normal amounts, cortisol plays an important function in the body, e.g. regulating your metabolism and helping your immune system. As your adrenal glands start secreting too much cortisol into your bloodstream, however, your body ends up paying the price in the form of big-time side effects like weight gain, muscle weakness, mood swings, high blood pressure, and exhaustion.

Positive effects-

Cortisol levels fluctuate constantly. For example, normally, cortisol is present in the body at higher levels in the morning, and at it is lowest at night. The cycle repeats daily. It can also fluctuate based on what a person is experiencing.

For instance, although stress isn’t the only reason that cortisol is secreted into the bloodstream, it has been termed “the stress hormone” because it’s also secreted in higher levels. Small increases of cortisol have some positive effects:

A quick burst of energy Heightened memory functions Helps maintain homeostasis in the body Increased immunity Lower sensitivity to pain

So, what exactly happens when the cortisol levels rise in our body?

While cortisol is an important and helpful part of the body’s response to stress, it’s important that the body’s relaxation response be activated so the body’s functions can return to normal following a stressful event. Our fight or flight mechanism gets activated in case an animal attacks you or when a car is about to hit you, the defence tendency to jump or tackle is due to your cortisol. Unfortunately, in our current high-stress culture, the body’s stress response is activated so often that the body doesn’t always have a chance to return to normal. This is confusing for the body, resulting in a state of chronic stress.

Higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream leads to Impaired cognitive performance, Suppressed thyroid function, Higher blood pressure, Hyperglycaemia, Lowered immunity and inflammatory responses in the body along with slowed wound healing. It weakens our body by causing a deterioration in your bone density and muscle tissues. The most visible effects of high cortisol levels is increased lower abdominal fat. When the cortisol is pumped up in our body, sugar is released to regulate it. This sugar settles down in your lower abdomen, causing weight gain. This weight is tough to lose.

That is why, if stress is not dealt with correctly, Cortisol goes ahead to be your No. 1 Health enemy. Strong efforts should be taken to balance the cortisol levels of your body. Read all about stress and healthy ways to cope up with stress in my book- ‘I'm not stressed’.

I’m not stressed- Deanne Pandey

‘Are you stressed? The workplace has become increasingly competitive, family life has its never - ending complications, and when you step outside, you have to deal with heavy traffic, aggression, and massive pollution. No wonder that you’re tense and agitated, have hyper reflexes and blood pressure that’s higher than the midday sun. But you’re not alone. Fifty percent of Indian professionals suffer from stress with stress - related diseases from depression to lack of fertility drastically on the rise. In I’m not stressed, Deanne Pandey, one of the country’s leading health and fitness experts, shares with you her secrets to tackle this looming lifestyle problem. She tells you what stress really means, how to know when you have a serious case of it, and most importantly how to deal with it with through a simple plan of diet, exercise, sleep, meditation, and breathing. With advice from leading psychiatrists, cardiologists, endocrinologists, and celebrities who have to deal with high - level stress, I’m not stressed is your mantra for enduring health and happiness.’

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