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Cortisol: Functions and management

stress

Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland in response to stress. It plays an important role in the body’s stress response system, helping to regulate various physiological functions.

However, chronic or excessive levels of Cortisol can have dangerous effects on the body.

Firstly, It is important to understand what this hormone is and it’s primary functions in the body.

(A) Functions; – 

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(1) Cortisol helps the body to stimulate metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins.

(2) Additionally, It regulates blood pressure by influencing blood vessel construction and the release of certain hormones involved in blood pressure control.

(3) It has anti-inflammatory properties that help to reduce inflammation in the body.

(4) Cortisol levels naturally fluctuate throughout the day, peaking in the morning to help wake us up and gradually decreasing towards the evening to promote sleep.

(5) It release follows the diurnal pattern, with its highest levels in the morning and lowest levels at night. It regulates HPA (hypothalamus pituitary adrenal) axis. The hypothalamus releases corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH), which stimulates the pituitary gland to release adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH). ACTH stimulates the adrenal glands to produce and release cortisol.

(6) Both physical and psychological stress release of cortisol. Chronic stress can lead to dysregulation of the HPA Axis, resulting in prolonged elevated cortisol levels.

(7) It is essential for short- term stress response but chronically elevated levels can have negative impact on the body, such as impaired immune system, weight gain (particularly belly fat), depression anxiety, disrupt the sleep-wake cycle leading to Insomnia or Poor sleep quality, hyperacidity, bloating and poor nutrient absorption.

 Maintaining a healthy cortisol level is important for overall wellbeing.

(B) Management for regulate cortisol levels; – 

(1) Engaging in stress reduction activities such as meditation, deep breathing exercise, yoga and hobbies can help you to lower cortisol levels.

(2) Moderate exercise help to regulate stress levels.

(3) Eating a balanced diet, tryptophan rich foods such as eggs, paneer, tofu, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds, banana, pineapple, managing caffeine intake and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can promote healthy cortisol levels.

(4) Weight lifting and progressive muscle relaxation can lower stress levels and promote relaxation.

(5) Stay adequately hydrated by drinking enough water throughout the day. Dehydration leads to stress imbalances.

(6) Surround yourself with supportive and positive relationships. Social support can help to reduce stress and promote overall wellbeing.

(7) CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) can help to identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors that lower stress levels.

In conclusion, understanding the impact of this hormone on the body and implementing strategies to manage stress levels can contribute overall quality of life.

Remember, cortisol regulation is a complex process and everyone’s response may vary. If you are experiencing persistent stress related symptoms, it’s recommended to consult a psychiatrist.

Dr.Hetal Patel

Admin

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