What Is Cortisol?

Cortisol is a steroid hormone produced in the cortex of the adrenal glands. It is released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Cortisol is secreted in the largest quantity in the morning. It is sometimes called the “fight or flight” hormone because it initiates a cascade of physical responses to stress, including increased heart rate and providing your body with a quick jolt of energy. It does this by rapidly increasing the amount of sugar in the bloodstream through a process known as glycogenolysis. Cortisol also aids in the metabolism of fat, protein and carbohydrates, and acts to suppress the immune system. Cortisol is essential for health, but too much cortisol related to stress can be very damaging to your health.

Cortisol Imbalance in Women

Women, Stress and Cortisol Levels

Many people live with chronic stress Women are more susceptible to chronic stress than men because women often have more responsibility, including work, taking care of the house and being a mother. Chronic stress results in cortisol imbalance in women. High cortisol levels due to chronic stress cause unpleasant symptoms and lowers progesterone and thyroid production. These hormone imbalances add to the unpleasant symptoms.

Cortisol Imbalance in Women

During periods of stress, the adrenal glands produce high levels of cortisol, so long periods of chronic stress are characterized by elevated long-term cortisol levels. High cortisol levels cause women to age more quickly and increase the risk of heart disease. It leads to the depletion of essential nutrients. High cortisol levels also increase your risk of infection because it weakens the immune system and increases the breakdown of muscle and tissue.

Overtime, the adrenal glands cannot meet the demands of continued stress and become fatigued. Adrenal fatigue eventually results in lower cortisol because the glands cannot continue the elevated production.
Low cortisol levels due to adrenal fatigue will cause many unpleasant symptoms and increases the risk of health conditions such as heart disease.

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