Excessive secretion of cortisol is fast becoming an epidemic due to the psychological perception of stress from work, finances, training.
What is cortisol or Stress Hormone?
Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is produced by the adrenal glands which sit on top of each kidney. When released into the bloodstream, cortisol can act on many different parts of the body and can help:
- your body respond to stress or danger
- increase your body’s metabolism of glucose
- control your blood pressure
- reduce inflammation.
Cortisol is also needed for the fight or flight response which is a healthy, natural response to perceived threats. The amount of cortisol produced is highly regulated by your body to ensure the balance is correct.
What triggers the adrenal glands to produce cortisol?
Cortisol production by the adrenal glands is regulated by the pituitary gland. The pituitary is a pea-sized gland at the base of the brain that is sometimes referred to as the "master gland" because of its wider effects on the body.
When you wake up, exercise or you’re facing a stressful event, your pituitary gland reacts. It sends a signal to the adrenal glands to produce just the right quantity of cortisol.
What happens when you produce too much or little cortisol?
Symptoms of too much cortisol include:
- weight gain, particularly around the abdomen and face
- thin and fragile skin that is slow to heal
- for women, facial hair and irregular menstrual periods.
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