The C Word (Cortisol) Part 3
Stress Weight Related to Cortisol and UCN3
The biggest drawback of overexposure or continued exposure to cortisol is weight gain. However, stress also releases a peptide hormone called corticoliberin, which is linked to Urocortin 3, or UCN3, a gene doctors are now calling the comfort eating gene. UCN3 has also been linked to Type 2 Diabetes, which, combined with Cortisol’s link with the disease, seriously heightens your chances of this diagnosis. UCN3 directly affects the way your body feels about food when you are stressed. It inhibits your body’s ability to gauge your appetite level, which may lead to over eating. What makes matters worse is that UCN3 doesn’t just make you hungry, it encourages your body to crave sweet, fatty, unhealthy foods, because it makes your body think that it needs more fuel to deal with extreme stress.
UCN3 and cortisol’s connection to the “fight or flight” mode, that we experience under extreme stress, completely confuses your body into thinking it needs to eat more. This leads to comfort eating, because the food you take in releases more insulin into your body. In response raising your glucose levels, which offers an overall calm feeling which in many cases is what we become addicted to. This, in turn, leads to something called insulin resistance, because the more insulin your body produces the quicker your cells get used to it’s effects, leading to diabetes and may be if unchecked, the need for insulin injections.
On the other hand, weight gain is not just related to eating under stressful situations. Cortisol can also be related to high blood pressure as well as decreased thyroid function. This is a major player in weight gain. Cortisol has also been implicated in increases of specifically belly fat. It does this by metabolizing triglycerides and relocating them to the visceral fat cells (the hard fat in the muscle in the abdomen) in the body. Adding insult to injury, Cortisol also aids in the development of adipocytes into mature fat cells. This is done on the cellular level in the adipose tissue, which leads to more fat storage in the belly. It is the proverbial snowball down the mountain, it is hard to stop the progression. Furthermore, belly fat itself leads to other serious health complications, like strokes, heart attacks, metabolic syndrome and high cholesterol (which itself leads to even more complications).
How to Stay Healthy the Dos and Don’ts
There are a number of factors that lead to the production of cortisol on a daily basis, as well as those that help in the reduction of cortisol levels in the body. Let’s take a look at some things you can do to reduce production and some things that you should avoid.
• Excessive caffeine intake causes an increase of cortisol
• Lack of sleep heightens cortisol levels
• Intense workout releases masses of the hormone, don’t overdo it
• Burnout caused by over working also releases a great amount of the stress hormone
• Believe it or not, travelling to and from work or school also releases cortisol depending on the duration of the trip and the level of predictability and effort involved in getting to your destination
• Not eating enough also causes cortisol production, so starving yourself to lose weight will only force your body to gain weight
• Take your Omega 3 fatty acids to help reduce production of the hormone
• De-stressing with music therapy helps a great deal, depending on the music of choice of course
• Taking time to get a massage will be beneficial to reducing cortisol as well as releasing pent up tension the your muscles
• Having fun and laughing with your friends and family causes a huge reduction in cortisol levels
• Regular dancing, at home or on the dance floor, reduces levels in great numbers
• Take Supplements like relora, bacopa, irvingia, theanine and ashwaghanda do allot to maintain healthy cortisol levels and to help with weight loss and traditional weight gain. Speak to your doctor or a Beyond Biology health professional before taking any herbal supplements or medication of any kind.
It is clear from the lists above that stressful situations and causing your body to undergo unnatural processors, like starvation, causes high levels of cortisol production. The main aim for a healthy lifestyle, free of too much cortisol, is to de-stress on a regular basis, and to keep your stress levels to a minimum on a daily basis. Please feel free to call us with any questions you may have about this harmful hormone. 888.908.0804