Cortisol is a hormone that is secreted by the adrenal glands and is responsible for regulation of blood pressure, blood sugar, metabolism, immune system and inflammatory response.
Cortisol is at higher levels early in the day and is at its lowest level in the evening and is known to raise higher when your body is under stress and is responsible for stress-related changes in your body.
When cortisol is released for a short period of time, it helps give us quick bursts of energy, improves our memory and immunity and helps give us a lower sensitivity to pain. But what happens when our body loses its ability to relax following a stressful event? If we are continually stressed, we become chronically stressed and therefore the cortisol remains at higher levels for a long period of time which can be very negative and result in poor thyroid function, blood sugar imbalances, decrease in bone density and muscle tissue, higher blood pressure, lowered immunity and increased BELLY FAT.
Research has shown that stress for long periods of time leads people to gain weight and there is a deposition of fat in the abdominal area. Studies show that people who are kept in a high stress environment develop belly fat. Even some people who are not obese, start to gain fat in the belly when under stress.
Cortisol secretion varies among individuals. People biologically react differently to stress. One person may secrete higher levels of cortisol than another in the same situation. Studies have also shown that people who secrete higher levels of cortisol in response to stress also tend to eat more food, and food that contains high fat and sugar, than people who secrete less cortisol. If you’re more sensitive to stress, it’s especially important for you to learn stress management techniques and change your lifestyle.
To keep cortisol levels healthy and under control, the body’s relaxation response should be activated after a stressful event occurs. You can learn to relax your body with various stress management techniques, and you can make lifestyle changes in order to keep your body from reacting to stress in the first place. The following have been found by many to be very helpful in relaxing the body and mind, aiding the body in maintaining healthy cortisol levels: Yoga or breathing exercises, listening to music, journaling, prayer and exercise.
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