Our body is wise, and every time it faces situations of stress or even some tissue damage, it secretes a hormone that helps increase sugar levels in the bloodstream and improve glucose usage in the brain while increasing the availability of substances that repair tissues so that we can react quickly and efficiently in those moments of stress or injury.
This hormone, known as the stress hormone, is cortisol.
As previously mentioned, it has an effect on all organs and tissues in the body.
However, it has also been shown that one of cortisol’s effects is to decrease bone formation.
There are several synthetic forms of cortisol used to treat a variety of diseases such as Addison’s disease, rheumatic inflammatory diseases, allergies, rashes, and eczema.
¿How is it produced?
This hormone is secreted by signals from the brain from the pituitary gland to the adrenal glands (located above each kidney) as a response mechanism.
This release is controlled by the part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
It sends information to the pituitary gland triggering its secretion.
The secretion of cortisol significantly increases upon awakening.
Since at those times there is a need to generate a source of energy after the long hours of sleep.
Similarly, it significantly increases at dusk since this produces a certain amount of stress for the body.
High levels of cortisol
However, in the long run, continuous high levels of cortisol can cause health problems by suppressing the immune system and altering metabolism. This can increase the risk of developing diabetes, osteoporosis, chronic fatigue, and weight gain.
In addition, high levels of cortisol can have negative effects on brain function and mood, and can even cause a vicious cycle in people with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, as they may have a deficiency in the ability to shut off cortisol production. Furthermore, decreasing bone formation can also lead to growth problems.
Factors that Increase Cortisol Levels
There are factors that typically increase the levels of this hormone such as caffeine intake, alcohol consumption, consumption of low-quality foods that are high in sugar and fat, dehydration, lack of sleep, intense or prolonged physical exercise, stressful situations, severe traumas or stressful events, and anorexia nervosa.
Factors that Reduce Cortisol Levels
This is a hormone that is naturally produced by the adrenal glands and is released in response to stress. This hormone plays an essential role in the body’s stress response system, as it helps to regulate blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and the immune system. However, excessive or prolonged cortisol production can have negative effects on the body, such as weight gain, immune system suppression, and increased risk of depression and anxiety.
One effective way to reduce the levels of this hormone is through moderate exercise, especially in the mornings. Exercise not only helps to reduce stress and improve mood, but it also has been shown to decrease its levels. Similarly, music therapy and meditation for at least 3 hours a week have also been found to reduce cortisol levels.
Therapeutic massages are another effective way to reduce the levels too. These massages can help to reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation, which can in turn help to reduce cortisol levels.
Sexual activity has also been found to reduce cortisol levels, as it can help to promote relaxation and release tension.
Laughter and humorous experiences have been shown to reduce its levels as well. Research has found that watching a comedy or engaging in a humorous activity can help to reduce those levels and promote a sense of well-being.
Consuming vitamin C, black and green tea, and interacting with pets in prolonged companionship and especially during periods of longer than 10 minutes of petting have also been found to reduce its levels. These activities can help to promote relaxation and reduce stress, which can in turn help to reduce cortisol levels.
Maintaining good sleep habits, such as getting 7 uninterrupted hours of sleep at night, can also help to reduce cortisol levels. Additionally, stress management techniques and maintaining harmonious relationships can help to reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can in turn help to reduce cortisol levels.
In conclusion, there are many factors that can help to reduce cortisol levels, including moderate exercise, music therapy, meditation, therapeutic massages, sexual activity, laughter, vitamin C, black and green tea, interacting with pets, good sleep habits, stress management techniques, and harmonious relationships. By incorporating these activities into our daily lives, we can help to reduce stress and promote a sense of well-being.