Relationship between stress and weight gainOctober 30, 2016
Caution: 10 signs of high Cortisol levels!October 31, 2016
We live in a dynamic world, a world in which sedentary lifestyle, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular diseases are the most significant problems of our times. In response to the stress to which we are exposed, our bodies release the cortisol hormone that seems “unnecessary” but at the same time is vital for the proper functioning of the human body. In this article we will discuss what is cortisol, cortisol meaning and how does it affect weight loss and weight gain.
Cortisol is a steroid hormone, glucocorticoid, which is separated from the adrenal cortex. Glucocorticoids go into a complex interaction with pituitary, which controls the secretion of cortisol in the daytime and by the pancreas, thus influencing the carbohydrate metabolism.
How is this done:
- Stimulates the formation of glycogen in the liver and muscles, decreased insulin sensitivity and delayed spending the glycogen reserves while fasting.
- Moreover, regulating the processes of phosphorylation in the body, they help the glucose absorption in the intestine and its use in tissues.
- In addition, they are actively involved in protein metabolism by aiding the formation of glycogen from nitrogen-lacking protein residues resulting from their deamination.
A special characteristic is the influence of glucocorticoids on muscle function, while shortages develop muscle weakness or extreme fatigue.
Positive effects associated with the release of cortisol
Under normal levels, the cortisol may be useful for the organism, because of it:
- improves memory and ability to concentrate;
- increases the body’s resistance;
- significantly decreased sensitivity to pain;
- actively participates in the processes of maintaining the inside fluid state or the so called homeostasis.
Normal levels of the cortisol hormone in the blood help the proper functioning of many vital processes of the body, especially under conditions of prolonged stress.
Problems at higher levels of cortisol
When cortisol levels in the body are increased for a prolonged period, this leads to:
- impaired cognitive abilities;
- suppresses the activity of the thyroid gland;
- imbalances in the blood sugar level. Very often a state like hyperglycemia is observed;
- high blood pressure;
- lowered immunity;
- slow wound healing;
- significantly increased adipose tissue (often associated with pathological conditions such as heart attack, stroke, elevated levels of LDL, etc.);
- decreased muscle tissue;
- significantly reduces bone density and creates a potential risk of osteoporosis;
- decreases the secretion of testosterone and somatotropin;
- difficult glucose utilization;
- generate the appearance of stretch marks, ulcers, and diabetes;
- accelerates the aging process of cells.
Eating habits and cortisol
It turns out that nutrition is the most important factor in maintaining a relatively constant level of cortisol in the body.
Garlic is one of the foods that are actively involved in maintaining normal levels of the hormone in the blood. This is due to the high content of vitamin C, which is well known for its antioxidant activity.
It increases the ratio of testosterone/cortisol by approximately 20% and takes an active part in the creation of collagen, a crucial factor in the presence of high levels of the hormone.
The intake of vitamin C reduces the sensation of pain during the heavy and intense workout. One of the most abundant amino acids in muscles – L-glutamine helps to increase muscle synthesis, increases the resistance and stimulates the release of somatotropin – a hormone known as cortisol antagonist.
On the other hand phosphatidylserine, a phospholipid which is located in small quantities in the food, the brain, and the muscle cells, reduces the release of cortisol in response to stress induced by a hard workout.
It can be of two types – animal and soy, the second greatly reduces the level of cholesterol. The animal phosphatidylserine, which is located in the beef brain, is considered potentially dangerous because of the possibility of becoming infected with “mad cow”.
Carbohydrate intake during and after exercise significantly reduces the catabolic effects of cortisol. And this is the best time to eat something sweet after a tough workout.
The combination of fast protein with carbohydrates is more than recommended! Sports drinks can cause a release of insulin, which can lead to termination of the secretion of cortisol.
How to control the cortisol levels?
To be effective, the process of “controlling” the level of cortisol, it is important to remember that it is necessary to build a proper diet, including 6-8 small meals. If you decrease the calorie level twice can lead to an increase in cortisol levels by approximately 40%. So pretty much you eat twice as little and your cortisol levels increase with almost 50%.
The use of appropriate supplements leads to good results in controlling this hormone. Sugar, chocolate, coffee, foods with a high-fat content lead to increased secretion of cortisol.
For example, three cups of coffee during the day lead to an increase in the cortisol levels for about 18 hours. If you add sugar, the effect is even stronger.
Everyday stress is most often caused by immobilization, an allergic reaction, nutrient imbalances, high intake of alcohol. Caffeine or sugar is something common for all of us. Depression, inadequate sleep, hard workout or even excessive sitting in front of the computer are something common nowadays. But on the other hand, we can easily train the body to effectively fight the physiological and emotional problems.
The first thing you certainly can do is to change your lifestyle. Incorporate various techniques for dealing with stress, breathing exercises, hypnosis, meditation, yoga, sex or even just listening to good music.
The reduced amount of caffeine, increased sleep time and more frequent walks outdoors, are only part of the solution to this “problem”.
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