Everyone has had to deal with stress at some point, that is simply part of life. However, if stress is chronic, i.e. long-term and is not processed well, this can result in an increased level of the stress hormone cortisol and associated health effects.
How does stress arise?
The process is quite simple: we get a stimulus that signals a kind of dangerous situation, for example when we have to speak to a lot of people. We cannot run away from each of these situations. And staying relaxed is much easier said than done. If we cannot resolve the stressful situation, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal cortex axis ( HPA axis ) is started as a stress reaction. Glutamate spreads in the brain, activates the cortex (cerebral cortex) and the so-called limbic system. At the end of a process chain, cortisol is then released.
If we have too much cortisol and a chronically high level of it, this has a negative impact on metabolism in many ways.
Why is high cortisol so bad? 10 reasons!
In short: bad stress (so-called distress) is a real destroyer of the metabolism. Especially because the hormone cortisol is released, which affects the body and mind very negatively from a certain level.
Here are 10 examples of the negative influence of increased cortisol:
- Too much cortisol makes you listless. It is an antagonist of testosterone, which means that it prevents us from producing enough testosterone. This can have a negative impact on our libido and sexual desire. That is why cortisol is also called the “anti-Viagra”.
- A high cortisol level is bad for our intestines. It promotes the so-called leaky gut syndrome, in which our intestines allow toxins to enter the body more easily. This causes inflammatory reactions in the body.
- Cortisol reduces fertility. It affects the production of progesterone. Progesterone controls the woman’s cycle and has a strong impact on fertility.
- Cortisol weakens the immune system. It has an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effect, ie it suppresses the immune system. As a result, we get sick faster.
- Cortisol promotes obesity. It increases the blood sugar level, which can create a kind of cravings for us. At the same time, there is a risk of insulin resistance, which in turn promotes the formation of bad fat in the middle of the body.
- Cortisol reduces sleep quality. If its level is permanent and also elevated at night, it is difficult for us to fall asleep and sleep well through the night.
- Cortisol makes us age faster. Collagen is a structural protein that is responsible for our aging, especially skin aging but also brain performance. Cortisol destabilizes the collagen. We get old faster – and look like that too.
- Cortisol breaks down muscles by releasing glucose and amino acids from the muscle to provide energy.
- Cortisol is associated with depression and anxiety. Many studies have shown that depressed people tend to have high levels of cortisol.
- Cortisol makes us tired and lacking in energy. Due to various metabolic processes, including the prevention of the hormones DHEA and testosterone, cortisol robs us of a lot of energy and makes us feel weak.
Measure the cortisol level
So stress and cortisol can be extremely harmful to us. But it doesn’t have to be. Cortisol is not bad per se! On the contrary – it is essential for our survival! However, it depends on the dose. We should avoid too much stress and high cortisol levels.
In some of our blood tests, like male wellness and female wellness, cortisol is measured in addition to other hormones. So you can see whether your cortisol level is elevated and take your health into your own hands.
How do I reduce stress?
Reducing stress and thus reducing cortisol is a very individual topic and depends on the causes of stress. Possible starting points are meditation, yoga, movement, good time management, learning to say “no” or simply looking for a good coach with whom you can untie the knot in your thinking. Because negative spirals always create stress.
So overcome your inner bastard and reduce your stress! Thank you with more happiness, serenity, and health.