Chronically elevated cortisol could be the culprit.
Chronic stress is something most of us are dealing with in today’s fast paced lifestyle. Juggling family, work, travel, partners working away, no partner, finances, school and physical activity all increase the release of cortisol, a steroid hormone. Cortisol is produced from cholesterol in the adrenal glands and under normal circumstances is released when we wake, exercise or are under acute stress. Prolonged high levels of stress and chronically elevated cortisol can have deleterious effects on weight, immune function, and chronic disease risk.
The following article discusses the effects of elevated cortisol on blood sugar, weight gain and gastrointestinal problems, making sense of what may be happening in your body if you are at risk. The good news is that through diet, lifestyle and possible supplementation you can break the vicious cortisol cycle, lose weight and get your well-deserved life back!
Blood Sugar Imbalance and Diabetes
The fight flight response driven by cortisol releases glucose into the bloodstream which is fine if we have to fight or flee from a predator. However long term elevated cortisol consistently produces glucose leading to elevated blood sugar levels. Cortisol also effects insulin by making the body’s cells resistant. The pancreas starts to struggle trying to keep up with the production of insulin leaving glucose remaining in the blood rather than the cells where they are needed, increasing the risk of diabetes.
Weight Gain and Obesity
Long term exposure to elevated cortisol can lead to weight gain through visceral fat storage. Cortisol helps release triglycerides from normal storage areas and relocates them to visceral fat – in the deep abdomen.
The blood sugar imbalance mentioned above leads to the cells being starved of glucose which sends a hunger signal to the brain and can lead to overeating and body fat gains. Cortisol also affects our appetite and we crave high –calorie foods. Other hormones are affected by cortisol which stimulate the appetite even further.
Due to the over activity of our sympathetic nervous system in fight flight our parasympathetic nervous system is suppressed. The parasympathetic system is involved in healthy digestion and restoration which can’t occur in fight or flight. When eating in a stressed out state with high cortisol our digestion and absorption are extremely compromised. We may have indigestion, irritation, inflammation, bloating and irregular bowel patterns. Unless the underlying issues related to cortisol are addressed further digestive complications can occur.
Further issues related to chronically elevated cortisol include immune system suppression, cardiovascular disease, fertility problems, insomnia, chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid disorders, dementia, depression, and other conditions.
It’s not all bad news! Help through an anti-inflammatory diet, stress management techniques and possible supplementation can assist in normalising cortisol and weight loss.
Yours in happy healthy weight loss
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