Cortisol is often called the stress hormone as your body releases this hormone during periods of acute stress or when you are under a lot of pressure. Cortisol is released by the adrenal glands in times of stress.
The adrenals are the small, walnut sized glands that sit above your kidneys. These glands fire up your stress response, allowing you to either ‘fight or take flight’ from some type of threat.
The adrenals release both, adrenalin and cortisol to assist this natural physiological reaction to stress. These stress hormones increase your heart rate, blood sugar levels, blood pressure and constrict the arteries. Cortisol is longer acting in the body than adrenaline.
Normal cortisol metabolism undergoes a diurnal rhythm, meaning that your cortisol levels vary throughout the day, with the highest levels typically produced in the early morning.
Ideally, cortisol is lowest level at night, especially around midnight to two am. Elevated cortisol at this times disturbs sleep, leading to insomnia.
Cortisol peaks in the early morning, helping us to wake and prepare for another busy day. Low levels at this time indicate adrenal exhaustion.
Raised cortisol is often associated with 'apple shaped' weight gain or belly fat. To lose the belly fat you need to reduce cortisol. Cutting stress & adequate sleep are paramount to help reduce soaring cortisol levels.
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