Since there seems to be such a correlation between chronic stress, belly fat and heart disease I decided to write this post for you because it's Heart Awareness month. It all has to do too with an ugly little hormone known as cortisol. This is one of the factors I write about in my book (21 Days To Rapid Fat Loss) which cause body fat.
Since we live in a fast paced economy driven world today, stress seems to big a very well known thing to most all of us.
Ahh stress. We are all so familiar with this term. Our ancestors knew stress as something different. Our bodies were designed to combat stress by what we call “fight or flight”. Meaning we either physically fight the stress at hand or we move away from it. Today’s stress however is much different. It is more chronic than immediate, meaning it is more the low level constant circumstances that weigh on us over time. The problem is that this chronic stress builds and we don’t usually combat it correctly. This can have a negative effect on our central nervous and hormonal systems. The main culprate in all of this is a hormone known as Cortisol.
Cortisol occurs naturally in the body so it does have a role in homeostasis of the body. However, unlike our ancestors that either fight or flight when under stress and cortisol levels are raised, our stress and cortisol levels rise and stay at an elevated level. This over time causes many health problems and also weight gain. High levels of cortisol in the body have been scientifically linked to issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, sleep disorders, low sex drive (that’s not fun!) and of course obesity. Men are especially susceptible to higher levels and one documented indication is men that hold a lot of their fat in the stomach area tend to have higher levels. This does not however rule out women from having high levels of cortisol in the body. More woman have shown a scary increase of heart disease and high cortisol levels.
It is very important we find ways to physically as well as mentally combat stress. It is no wonder why someone that eats a healthy diet and works up a sweat with exercise is able to control their levels of cortisol in the body. Just remember you can’t “flight” or run from stress, but you can “fight” it with a sound exercise and nutrition plan.
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There is not a test available to see your levels as far as I know. But there are signs that tell you that your cortisol is high. Some of these are lowered energy levels, lowered sex drive, more abdominal fat compared to the rest of the body,high blood pressure. If you have some of these signs chances are that your levels are elevated, also your lifestyle plays a big part. The best thing to combat cortisol is through a sound exercise program, this will naturally lower your levels because you are physically using your body to produce other hormones to counter act this. Hope this helped.
Greg Crawford www.itsalifestylefitness.comFebruary 13, 2010 - 12:21pm
This is great information, thank you for the share. I am also interested in the questions presented by Pat. How can we reduce the levels?February 13, 2010 - 11:02am
Greg - Great info, thanks for sharing this. Is there a way an individual can measure their Cortisol level? How does someone know if they have too much? How do they reduce their levels? Thanks, PatFebruary 12, 2010 - 6:23pm