WHAT IS CORTISOL?
Many of us have come to know the hormone cortisol as the hormone that goes up when we are ‘stressed’ and the hormone that promotes the development of belly fat. However, even though cortisol has gotten a ‘bad rap’ when it comes to the waistline, it is an extremely important hormone that is the only hormone your body could not live without.
Although other hormones, such as adrenaline, are released when you are in a stressful situation, cortisol is the body’s primary survival or ‘fight or flight’ hormone. For instance, when you narrowly escape the crosswalk as a hurried car speeds past you, adrenaline is the hormone that prompts you to get out of the way, but it is cortisol that allows you to keep running. Its sole purpose is to divert all your bodily resources away from unimportant things (reproduction, sleep, digestion, etc) to ensure your survival. Cortisol causes a rise in blood sugar, pulse, and blood pressure, a decrease in bowel and immune system function, and a reduction in the activity and effectiveness of all other hormones in your body.
High Cortisol Symptoms
Unlike all the other hormones produced by your body, cortisol is a ‘catabolic’ or wear and tear hormone. As such, it is important that all hormones are properly balanced to prevent excessive tissue breakdown. If a balance does not exist, high cortisol states can ultimately lead to such diseases as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, immune system abnormalities, and even cancer.