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: Cortisol – it’s making you fat and unhealthy

Cortisol – it’s making you fat and unhealthy

02 Aug
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So what is cortisol?

 

I think that’s a good enough question as any to start off with. Cortisol is being talked about a lot more these days , probably because we are living in a world of stress and busy lives.
Cortisol is your stress hormone and is what occurs in the body when stress happens. The classic scenrio to describe it the most efficiently is as your ‘fight or flight” hormone. For example, let’s go back millions of years ago during the hunter gatherer days when you were searching the land for food minding your own business when a sabre tooth tiger appears ready to eat you, what happens next is a series of neurological, biochemical, hormonal and physiological actions that are designed to help you run away and live to fight another day.

In a series of events it would look like this:

Stress occurs ( nasty sabre tooth tiger)

Stress response ( lots of reactions in the body)

Fight or flight ( flight in this case )

Stress response ends ( hormones die down, you relax, live life happy)


But fast forward to life now and it is a whole different story. We are under what is know as chronic stress where we face things much scarier than a sabre tooth tiger like mortgage payments, credit card bills, lack of sleep, deadlines, the tube, relationships etc etc. the reason for it being much scarier is that we can’t escape them as easily as toothy predator.

So our series of events looks something like this:

Stress occurs ( work, bills, everything! )

Stress response happens ( lots of reactions )

Fight or flight doesn’t happen ( we can’t get away from it all )

Stress response continues ( we can’t relax and switch off, which leads to elevated levels of cortisol)

Death! ( well, not as such but it is killing us)

Now you might think ” dale, stop this crazy talk, deadlines are nothing to worry about, that’s just life” but over a long time, elevated cortisol levels can be as detrimental to overall health just as much as elevated cholesterol is for heart disease or excessive blood sugar is for diabetes. It will make you fat, kill your sex drive, shrink your brain, ruin your immune system and generally keep you down.

 

What has this go to do with weight gain?

So if we revert back to the start of this post where I talked about  cortisol being our fight or flight response and how we now have this chronic level of elevated cortisol. In the normal situation if we were stressed, cortisol would normally stimulate fat stores as energy to help us run away if need be. But since we don’t actually get to that point then the body just clings on to the fat just in case it is needed. Because the abdomen has more cortisol receptors that is where most of the fat tends to be directed.

Luckily there are ways of sorting this stuff out with three magic words. Diet , Exercise and Supplements.

Exercise


Being active general is great for the body, but actually working out properly and following a routine can increase the production of serotonin and dopamine in the body both of which are the feel good hormones we produce in the brain. Researchers at duke university have found that exercising for thirty minutes a day for 3-4 times per week can be as effective as prescription antidepressants for relieving symptoms of anxiety and depression. Not to mention the effects it can have on your body composition with the reduction of body fat, the increase of muscle and also bone density and the reduction of appetite.

Try my Stress Buster Package designed to help to relieve you from daily anxiety.

 

Diet

Selecting the right kinds of foods is simple. If its grown naturally, eat it.  If its man made avoid like the plague. So fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish. Fresh is the order of the day and more is most definitely better as scientific research has proven that an abundance of fruit and vegetables can reduce the risk of obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, stroke, heart disease and many cancers. Avoiding sugar, alcohol and processed foods will keep your body in a happy state.

 

Supplements

If you were to take some natural dietary supplements then they will help with the control of stress, relaxation, more restful sleeps,balancing blood sugar levels,promotion of weight loss, and also boosting your immune system.

Just like the sports drinks industry the pharmaceutical companies are spotting a growth in the awareness of cortisol and are making new drugstore counteract it so be very wary of cortisol control drugs as it will probably be the next big thing.

The best natural cortisol controlling supplements are;

 

Magnolia Bark

Which is a traditional chinese medicine that has been around for decades and was used to treat various syndromes and digestive disturbances but it also has cortisol lowering effects.

Theanine

This can be found in green tea and is an amino acid that offers different benefits like a non-sedating relaxant to help increase the brains production of alpha waves which makes it  great for combating tension stress and anxiety.

 

Phosphatidylserine

PS is thought to be related to brain cell function where it plays a key role in muscle metabolism and immune system function and has been shown to control cortisol overproduction, especially after exercise.

 

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA’s)

BCAAs have been shown to have a beneficial effect on counteracting the rise in cortisol and the drop of testosterone,whichis often seen when people undergo stressful training. They are also good at preventing muscle breakdown, improving mental performance, increasing energy levels and reducing fatigue. the only problem with them is that because the primary sources of BCAAs are so expensive, commercial products only contain small doses which means they have to be taken in high doses to see any effect.

 

Here are some funny pictures. They might help relieve some stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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