Patty Christopher, MS,PT


Advanced Weight Loss & Wellness

When under stress, our adrenal glands produce the hormone cortisol to help us prepare for fight or flight. Cortisol helps control mood, motivation and fear, manage metabolism, regulate blood pressure, control sleep/wake cycle, and keep inflammation in check.

During times of sustained stress, overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones can disrupt almost all of our body’s processes, putting us at increased risk for many health problems, including: anxiety, depression, headaches, irritability, heart disease, and sleep problems; disrupted digestion, mental function (brain fog) and metabolism; weight gain (especially around the midsection and upper back), rounding of the face; memory and concentration impairment; fatigue, low sex drive, muscle weakness and severe fatigue; impaired healing and cell regeneration; weakened ability to fight infection; thyroid imbalances; acne, thinning skin, easy bruising and flushed face. Excessive exposure to cortisol can also lead to diminished bone density and decreased strength of bone attachments of ligaments, and hair loss. Also, telomeres shorten, causing cells and immune system to age and become susceptible to damage.

How do we naturally lower cortisol levels? Allow yourself the opportunity for eight hours of quality sleep. Exercise regularly. Eat healthy foods (avoid sugar; consume dark chocolate, fruits, black and green tea, prebiotics and probiotics, and plenty of water). Vitamin B-Complex helps reduce cortisol levels, and Vitamin C is believed to buffer high cortisol levels. Because of it’s impact on bone density, Vitamin D is also beneficial for those experiencing sustained stress and elevated coritsol levels. Fish oil, high in omega-3 fatty acids, and ashwaganda have also been shown to reduce cortisol levels. Recognize and develop strategies to address stressful thinking and increased physical tension, and use relaxation techniques when you recognize signs of elevated stress. Engage in activities that increase life satisfaction. Maintain healthy relationships and practice spirituality.

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