You don’t have enough energy to get things done. You continue to gain weight despite eating clean and exercising regularly. Then there are the mood swings. One minute you’re irritable, the next minute you’re angry and all the sudden you feel anxious and depressed to the point you don’t enjoy life.
You feel wired and tired at night, which makes it difficult to shut down your mind and fall asleep. Conversely, you keep waking up in the middle of the night with your heart racing.
Severe brain fog, even simple tasks take you twice as long to complete due to poor concentration.
Chips, chocolate and ice cream are your top food cravings.
Skin breakouts decades after puberty.
Can you relate to any of these?
If so, then your cortisol is most likely out of whack. You have to regulate this fight or flight hormone now before it’s too late. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms I completely understand because, once upon a time, I’ve been there myself where my cortisol levels were flat, and it became very difficult to enjoy my life then.
So, what in the world is cortisol?
Think of cortisol as nature’s built-in alarm system. It’s your body’s main stress hormone. It works with a special part of your brain to control your mood, motivation, and fear. Your adrenal glands-triangle shaped organs above your kidneys make cortisol. Cortisol is best known for helping fuel your body’s fight or flight response in a crisis, but cortisol also plays an important role in a number of things your body does.
What is cortisol responsible for?
- Managing how your body uses carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. It’s a major regulator for metabolism
- Lowers inflammation
- Regulates blood pressure
- Increases blood sugar (glucose) levels during stress
- Controls your sleep/wake cycle
- Boosts energy to handle stress effectively
So how does all this work?
A major part of your brain known as the hypothalamus and pituitary gland sense if your blood contains the right level of cortisol. If levels are too low, your brain fine tunes the hormones accordingly. Your adrenal glands pick up on these signals and adjust the amount of cortisol to release.
What you need to understand is that different parts of your body contain cortisol receptors, which receive and use cortisol hormones in different ways. How much cortisol you need varies from day to day. For instance, when you’re under high alert, cortisol can alter or shut down functions that get in the way. So during stressful situations, your digestive or reproductive system, your immune system and growth hormones shut down.
How does cortisol impact thyroid health?
Cortisol specifically is often linked with weight gain. Both an excess and deficiency of cortisol can impact blood sugar levels and thyroid function, which then trigger adrenal fatigue, symptoms of low metabolism and weight gain.
Thyroid function tremendously slows during stress. Special thyroid hormones such as triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) hormone levels decrease. In return, the conversion of T4 hormone to T3 may not occur, leading to higher levels of reverse T3.
This is the main reason most people gain weight during stressful situations.
So what are the major stressors that may lead to cortisol imbalances?
- Emotional stress
- Lack of restful sleep
- Excessive sugar and carbohydrate intake
- Night work schedule
- Frequent skipped or delayed meals
- Severe infections
- Overworking (mentally or physically)
- Surgery or traumatic injury
- Excessive exercise (especially endurance)
- Environmental toxic exposure specifically heavy metals such as cadmium from cigarettes, lead and mercury.
Cortisol also has a close relationship with the hormone insulin, which controls blood sugar. When cortisol levels increase, your cells become resistant to insulin. In turn, this may cause high blood sugar, weight gain and Type 2 Diabetes.
When cortisol levels drop excessively this is known as adrenal exhaustion, which I witness 90% of the time in my patients. In this case, blood sugar may drop or increase, causing hyper or hypoglycemia, both lead to adrenal fatigue, low stress tolerance and obesity.
One important concept to understand is that high or low cortisol levels can trigger symptoms of poor metabolism such as difficulty losing weight (especially around your stomach), low energy even with rest, depressed mood, sensitivity to cold, decreased memory and poor concentration.
American Psychology Association (APA) indicates that half of Americans are living with extreme stress, which is taking a toll on people and contributing to major health problems, unhealthy relationships and lost productivity at work.
And no, it’s not just your age. Whether you’re in your 40’s, 50’s or in your 60’s. You deserve to feel amazing at all times and look fabulous within your body.
Don’t you dare settle for less.
STOP wasting your time trying a cookie cutter approach that’s got you stuck…
And the good news is that there is a simple natural approach to get your stress hormone such as cortisol balanced that is simple and side effect free so you can take control of your health and be happy again.
I discuss this topic in my recent Facebook live video here: