Are You Worrying Yourself Sick?
- Are you spending a lot of time worrying about stressful situations in your life?
- Are you on a diet to lose weight?
- Are you getting less than 8 hours of sleep a night?
If so, you may suffer from elevated levels of a hormone called cortisol.
Cortisol and Weight Loss
Elevated cortisol levels signal your body to keep eating and storing fat. By reducing your cortisol levels, you can prevent cravings and lose weight.
Is Cortisol Making You Fat?
Stress and Illness
We’ve known for a long time that stress makes us sick, but we haven’t really understood why. New research is beginning to uncover the true nature of the link between stress and poor health, and we’re starting to realize the extent of the damage that stress can cause. The primary stress hormone, cortisol, has been implicated in all kinds of illnesses and health problems.
Health Effects of Cortisol
What is Cortisol?
Cortisol is a hormone produced by your body in response to stressful events. The occasional release of this “fight-or-flight” hormone is essential to our ability to respond to emergency situations.
But too-frequent release of cortisol in response to the daily stresses of our increasingly hectic lives can have extremely negative health consequences. These include persistent fatigue, poor cardiovascular health, challenged immune function, and weight gain, among many others.
More About Cortisol
One reason is that cortisol levels naturally fluctuate throughout the day. They’re at their lowest at around 1-2am, and peak at around 6-8am. The 1am low gives your body a chance to heal and recover without the immune suppressing effects of cortisol. The morning high is partially the result of not eating all night. Cortisol breaks down the body’s energy stores and releases glucose and fat particles into the blood stream to help give you energy in the morning. It also increases alertness and gets you ready for the day. Over the course of the day, cortisol levels slowly decrease, until they reach a low again in the early morning.
Another reason is that some people under stress have a disrupted cortisol pattern, rather than simply high cortisol. These people do not get as much of a cortisol peak in the morning, or they get a higher than normal peak after meals. It’s very difficult to detect this with an off-the-shelf test.
If you test your cortisol at different times in the day, you could get very different readings. When your doctor tests your cortisol, he or she will most likely take several readings at different times of the day, and on different days to get a clearer picture of how your cortisol levels fluctuate.