Tuesday, February 02, 2010What is cortisol?
is a commonly referred to as the “stress hormone” because the body releases it in response to stress and anxiety. High levels of cortisol deplete collagen, counteract insulin, decrease bone density and weaken the immune system, often resulting in a variety of health conditions and diseases such as osteoporosis, diabetes, and adrenal fatigue. Recently, doctors at the University College London have proven that cortisol imbalance can significantly increase one’s risk of heart disease.
How does cortisol increase my risk?
Increased production of cortisol causes vasoconstriction or narrowing of the arteries. This results in a decreased blood flow, leading to plague build-up along the arterial walls. Arterial plaque is the number one cause of atherosclerosis and is a prime risk factor for heart attack and stroke.
What can I do to prevent a cortisol imbalance?
- Balance your hormones – High cortisol levels are often the result of a hormonal imbalance such as menopause or andropause (the male menopause). Elevated levels of cortisol are often typified by a wide range of symptoms including weight gain, adrenal fatigue, low libido, anxiety, insomnia and irritability. Fortunately, bioidentical hormones can help curb many of the resulting side effects and balance cortisol levels within the body.
- Stress reduction – Stress reduction techniques such as breathing exercises and mediation are great ways to naturally and effectively relieve stress. Relaxation exercises don’t take much time either. It can be as simple a s brisk walk or counting to 10.
- Exercise – Exercise and stress reduction go hand in hand. Physical activity doesn’t only benefit the body, but also the mind. What better way to blow off steam, than hitting the gym? When we work-out, our body releases endorphins that regulate our mood. These neurochemicals have a calming effect and significantly decrease the production of cortisol.