Note: this blog post was imported from my old website. Apologies in advance for any formatting issues.
Stress is going to kill you if you let it.
Everyone “knows” stress is bad, but do we really understand why? Let us dive into all the reasons why a broken lifestyle will destroy your health and your life if you don’t address it
Cortisol (the Stress Hormone)
I keep talk about stress, but I should differentiate, not all stress is bad. Stress simply refers to some sort of stimulus putting some form of strain upon a system. If the system is adaptive to the stress, we can consider it positive. But if the kind of stress is unable to be handled, or the volume is simply too high, then it turns negative.
Too much of anything can be a bad thing, and when your body and your health start responding negatively, you know something is wrong. Your nervous and metabolism will do everything it can to keep you alive, but when stress is too great, these results in MALADAPTATIONS. These are adaptations that are “good” in the sense that you don’t die, but bad in that ultimately negative changes to your metabolism.
All of this said, when happens hormonally when our bodies experiences stress of any kind?
There is a hormone that gets released, called cortisol. Cortisol is the stress hormone. Whats a hormone? Hormones are proteins that get strung together, and they that signal your cells and organs to do things -If you are underslept, cortisol is released -And if you are chronically sleep deprived, cortisol is chronically released
-When you exercise intensely, cortisol is released
-When you have a fight with your spouse or partner, cortisol is released
-When your wife’s mother visits for the weekend and you avoid her at all costs, cortisol is released
-When your kids stress you out, cortisol is released It doesn’t matter whether it’s physical or mental or emotional, cortisol release happens from ANY form of stress.
Along with cortisol, sometimes in “critical” situations, say narrowly avoiding a car accident, we will have an adrenaline release as well. This is an ancient biological mechanism that kicks our flight or fight response into high gear. In modern life though, being critically stressed out usually results in an adrenaline dump.
Does cortisol do anything good? Absolutely it does. Cortisol raises blood sugar (which you NEED for energy), it helps the digestive system metabolize proteins carbohydrates and fat by stimulating gastric acid secretion, it stimulates the release of potassium, and it increases glycogen resynthesis in the liver.
If you completely eliminate cortisol, you will experience extreme fatigue. While it sounds counter intuitive, Cortisol is like a “Start/Stop” hormone. It shuts down various processes of your metabolism so they can fire back up again. Without cortisol, everything slows to crawl. Cortisol is like sleep; too much and you’d get nothing done in life and be unproductive, but you obviously need enough sleep to make your body stop, recover, and for your physiology to function right.
Now, the irony is that when cortisol is too high, your other hormones drop. Why do they drop?
Because your body starts dipping into your bodies energy intake to make cortisol
???? What does that mean?
It means that all the food you EAT, its not just “fuel”, as Ive said before (in my book, which you should probably read)
Food provides raw material for hormone production. When cortisol production goes up, your body only has a finite amount of fuel for hormones, so it allocates that fuel for more cortisol.
ironically, cortisol then makes you HUNGRIER. And then this screws up Leptin (the hunger hormone, but lets stay on point here) and then you dont get full when you eat
And then you eat more. Which then screws up insulin (another hormone), which then screws up blood sugar, which leads to system wide inflammation,
which then prompts more cortisol release
And then this cycle just keeps on repeating itself
So all that said, Cortisol starts having negative effects very quickly. If you are constantly stressed out, your adrenal system will be secreting cortisol 24/7. The maladaptive effects of this are far reaching. If you have ever been curious why you “dont feel right” when you are highly stressed, here are all the reasons why:
-Insulin resistance, which makes your body more likely to store fat and degrades your muscles and tissues ability to metabolize blood sugar (this is the first first step toward Type 2 diabetes in adults).
-Insulin resistance causes insulin levels to go up, which then causes systemic inflammation (meaning inflammation across almost all of your bodies tissues)
-decreases testosterone levels (which affects mood and sexual health in both men and women)
-increases estrogen, which makes women and men moody, and kills libdo, and impairs cognitive function (estrogen degrades the parts of the brain responsible for logical thinking)
-Decreases growth hormone, which suppresses your ability to heal
-Decreases the immune system, which both inhibits recovery from injury and makes you more likely to get sick, and stay sick
-Cause collagen loss, which makes your skin age faster and can lead to increased mineral loss in bone
–reduces calcium absorption=increases the risk of osteoporosis and can weaken bones
-Decreases uptake of amino acids, and inhibits protein synthesis=exercise leaves you sore and you recover slower than normal
-Inhibits sodium and potassium loss=elevated blood pressure,
-Inhibits fluid loss via the kidneys=bloating and more blood pressure elevation
-reduces calcium absorption
-Depletes copper in the body-a copper deficiency reduces health of red blood cells, which causes a cascade effect of low energy, irregular heartbeat, increased cholesterol levels (and a bunch of other effects)
-Can impair short and long term memory
-Can inhibit T3 uptake=low energy, which people mistakenly think is a thyroid problem
Stress affects every aspect of your health, get a handle on it. </strong>
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