Thursday, June 15, 2006

Cortisol, we hardly know ya

…Writing in the Arizona Republic (june 13, 2006), Connie Midey explores the powerful “fight or flight” hormone, cortisol.

…”It’s not a simple hormone,” one doc said. An excess of cortisol can cause problems, but the doctors aren’t sure what things are caused directly by an excess.

…We need this stuff. Excreted by the adrenals atop the kidneys, cortisol acts on every cell in the body.

…Like its fellow hormone, adrenaline, it plays a role in fight or flight.

…In healthy amounts, Midey wrote, it helps the body respond to stress, produce energy, regulate heart functions, normalize blood sugar, and fight infection and inflammation. (Synthetic cortisol, hydrocortisone, is often used for allergies and to fight inflammation.)

…When chronic stress keeps the cortisol squirting out, it becomes toxic. It destroys tissues, can make you insulin resistant, slows healing, and impairs memory.

…Binge eaters seem to have more of it.

…Even thin people subjected to stress and then left with pastries in the room, will grab them.

…You can’t just knock this stuff out of the body, because it’s so vital to life. And commercial diet aids that claim to suppress it are not effective, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

…Yoga, reading, a nap, listen to music…these might be better.

…Oh, and (you guessed it) exercise. Aerobically fit people deal with cortisol better.

…Another tip: Keep fruit and veggies around. After that meltdown, you won’t be able to get your hands on an M&M.

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