Have you ever been so stressed out you can’t think straight? Crunch time, trying to make a rational decision and you can’t even clearly see the problem? This happens when there is too much cortisol in the brain. There is point where the brain cannot properly make and store new thoughts and memories because it is overwhelmed by cortisol. In our stress-driven society, cortisol overload is a major cause of dementia-related problems in our population. Your adrenals make DHEA plus the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. Adrenal exhaustion comes from coping with chronic stress, poor nutrition, yo-yo diets, emotional turmoil and even job-related stress. Adrenal exhaustion means that your adrenals are bone-tired from pumping out cortisol and they can’t make enough DHEA to support a healthy hormonal balance. What is the end of this? You feel worn out, tapped out, stressed out, overwhelmed and depressed. Cortisol is an adrenal hormone that should start out with high levels in the morning and taper down through the day, being replaced by rising melatonin in the evening. Cortisol should peak by about 8 am to get you going and then slowly drop off to reach their lowest at about 8-10 pm so that you can fall asleep. The hormone melatonin should be on the rise after 5 in the evening and peak around 8-10 pm to put you to sleep. Cortisol wakes you up and melatonin makes you sleepy. Stress causes cortisol levels to elevate instead of drop at night.
What happens with high cortisol levels
Chronic elevation in cortisol is extremely detrimental to your health. It has been linked to adrenal fatigue, hormonal imbalances, heart disease, excessive blood sugar levels, elevated cholesterol, excess body fat (particularly around the midsection), and depressed sex hormone levels in both men and women. High cortisol will tank your sex life and it also breaks down muscle tissue, which can really douse your results in the gym. Gaining weight on your diet? Cutting back the calories sends a signal to your body that you’re under attack. Low-calorie meals and frozen diet dinners kick the stress hormone cortisol into overdrive. A recent study published in Psychosomatic Medicine found that you’ll get a stress boost just by going on a low-calorie diet. Cortisol actually tells the body to retain weight, so as you eat less, you actually weigh more. A common finding in patients with autoimmune disease is high cortisol. Patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis also have high cortisol and a loss of circadian rhythms(Axelrod). High cortisol levels help bring on stress and hormone-related cancer but melatonin blocks the effects of estrogen upon cancer cells in hormonally-influenced cancers, such as breast, endometrial, ovarian and uterine cancers. Large amounts of alcohol deplete hormones and increases cortisol levels and smoking has been found to reduce melatonin levels. If the thyroid is low the adrenals will come up to compensate and this will also cause extra cortisol.
Health and Wellness Associates