The C Word (Cortisol) Part 2
How does Cortisol affect your Body?
There have been many, many studies done on how stress affects the human body, leading us to the conclusion that stress leads to heart disease, depression, digestion problems, musculoskeletal disorders, respiratory problems, immunological problems and even eating disorders. However, as established above, stress releases the hormone cortisol into the body. While cortisol has it benefits, it is the continued overexposure to this hormone that has doctors worried about things like diabetes, immune system suppression and fertility problems and more. But why?
Under light stress or extremely stressful conditions cortisol releases glucose into the body by tapping into the body’s protein stores in a process called gluconeogenesis. The resulting boost of energy is what fuels the “fight or flight” mode. In short, increased exposure to this process, in theory, will lead to the body’s immunization to insulin which will result in the higher glucose level over time. The body begins to become “Insulin Resistant” if this process continues.
Immune System Suppression
Cortisol also offers the body anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation caused by bad eating habits and heightened stress levels releases cortisol excess in the body, which acts to inhibit the inflammation. Cortisol also inhibits the immune system for a short period of time, by preventing proliferation of T cells. This is the body shutting down non emergency processes to deal with a perceived emergency response. Constant exposure to cortisol will maintain a low immune system, leaving your body open to a myriad of attacks and possible diseases including Cancer.
Cortisol is known to be related to erectile dysfunction as well as irregular menstrual cycles and ovulation. Stress and Cortisol are associated with male and female sexual dysfunction. What’s more, cortisol is produced in the same glands that produce sex hormones, so if those glands are constantly producing cortisol, there is no time for it to produce the androgenic sex hormone, causing infertility. Cortisol always wins the tug of war with what hormones should be produced, it is one of the only hormones that increase as we get older.
If you would like more information about how cortisol changes your life as you age please call us at 888.908.0804 Beyond Biology can help.
Look for Part 3 of the Cortisol story.