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Cortisol: the Stress Hormone’s Effect on Your Health and Weight Loss

Stress is simply a part of life. Stress can be a positive thing: It can save your life in a fight or flight situation, or it can be the kick in the butt you need to finally finish that project at work you’ve been putting off. Too much stress, however, can have a negative effect on your mental and physical health. In today’s society, where we are moving faster, taking on more responsibility and are constantly technologically connected to the demands of work and home, our lives are becoming more overwhelming, and it may be taking a toll on our waistlines.

Cortisol, dubbed the “stress hormone”, is an important hormone secreted by the adrenal glands, responsible for many functions in the body including regulating metabolism and blood pressure, immune function, inflammatory response, and releasing insulin, which maintains blood sugar levels.

Cortisol isn’t only secreted when the body is under stress, but it is secreted in higher levels during the body’s “fight or flight” response to stress (think of when something pops out and scares the crap out of you. That surge you get is your body’s fight or flight response- you either jump and run, or start swinging.) The stress we encounter on a daily basis isn’t always so obvious or sudden, but daily stress, i.e. a jam packed schedule the next day or not knowing how you are going to afford next month’s bills, isn’t immediately remedied, so your stress levels stay elevated for an extended period of time until the stressor is remedied, or more often than not, until another stressor comes along and takes over.

Just as with everything in life, too much of something is never a good thing. Elevated cortisol levels cause many physical, negative changes to the body, including impaired cognitive function, blood sugar imbalances, high blood pressure, and lower immunity, causing you to feel slow and drained of energy, or even come down with an illness.


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What You Need to Know About Natural and Artificial Hormones

Carolyn Dean, MD, ND is a health pioneer with over 25 years of experience with women’s health issues. She’s authored 22 books including “Future Health Now Encyclopedia”, “The Complete Natural Guide to Women’s Health, “Hormone Balance”, “Menopause Naturally”, “The Yeast Connection and Women’s Health”, “IBS for Dummies” and “The Magnesium Miracle”. She is the medical director for the Nutritional Magnesium Association. For more info you can access a Free 32-page guide to the benefits of magnesium written by Dr. Dean at the non-profit www.nutritionalmagnesium.org.

Hormones have an important role to play in every woman’s health and well-being. When hormone levels fluctuate, this can cause weight gain and affect your ability to lose weight as well as affect mood, sexual desire, fertility and ovulation.

The female hormones estrogen and progesterone are produced by the female body in specific ratios every month. An imbalance of either can cause menopause and all the symptoms associated with it. These hormones are influenced by certain factors such as nutrition, diet, lifestyle, exercise, stress, emotions, age and ovulation. When estrogen and progesterone dance to the tune of stress and chemical disruption, they can fluctuate wildly and then gradually decline as we age.

Aging brings its own “blessings”—wisdom and memories—but also the possibility of weight gain and declining organ function—thyroid and adrenals, especially.


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Cortisol’s Risks and Rewards Based on Your Stress Level

Cortisol is a hormone that’s released into the bloodstream by the adrenal glands. It’s released in two ways: in low, steady levels and in high, short bursts. Releasing a short burst of concentrated cortisol is part of your body’s survival mechanism, also know as the fight or flight response.

Steady levels of cortisol provide low doses that help to regulate: