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The good, the bad and…the Cortisol

The good, the bad and…the Cortisol

Cortisol is one of the steroid hormones and it is made in the adrenal glands. Secretion of the hormone is controlled by the hypothalamus, the pituitary gland and the adrenal gland. In a nutshell, Cortisol it’s notably known to be the “the stress hormone” that’s for a good reason indeed.

The cortisol, once released, can be received by most of the bodily cells, so it can affect many different functions in the body.

Cortisol can do really a lot of positive things to our body, such as:

-helping control blood sugar levels

-regulating metabolism

-reducing inflammation

-and much more…

In women, cortisol also supports the developing fetus during pregnancy. If so, why cortisol is commonly considered as “bad” and often included among the stress response biomarkers?

All of its functions make cortisol a crucial hormone to protect overall health and well-being under normal circumstances, that’s really true.

On the other side, our lifestyle and daily demands are constantly altering or unbalancing the cortisol levels in our system, and here comes the bad side of cortisol.

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Bear in mind that cortisol is also the major age-accelerating hormone. Cortisol is able to weaken immune function, reduce bone formation through calcium absorption, and create a loss of collagen (which weakens support in muscles, tendons, and joints).

Cortisol also counteracts insulin, contributing to high blood sugar and that’s why cortisol is also linked to weight gain and storing of belly fat. In a nutshell…we don’t want to interfere with the normal functions of our body, and in particular with the levels of cortisol inside our personal living system. But, what can be considered as “normal” and under which circumstances?

Variability of Cortisol levels

In a ‘normal’ situation (i.e. you are not chased by a lion or undergoing any similar life threatening situation…) and for a person not suffering of any particular disease, Mr. Cortisol’s typical day can be schematized as follows:

corti1

    Cortisol production is at its peak around 30 minutes after waking up. And this is actually needed, to ensure a correct and fresh waking up (you can kick the adrenals up drinking some lemon water with a pinch of salt, it’s worth the try, or sun exposure, that will help as well).

    Then, the levels of cortisols gradually fade to a minimum before going to sleep, so reasonably low levels of cortisol in the evening are more than welcome.

    Beside that, we all know that during the day we receive external stimuli or we can face events that cause us to undergo “stressful” situations, and so a series of chemical reactions start inside our body. One of the consequences of this chemical production is to have peaks of cortisol when we don’t want.

    corti2

      When a stressor occurs, in fact, our limbic system, a more primitive part of our brain, instantly responds to danger and thus we face a “fight or flight” response.

      In the old times we, as humans, used to consider a stressor any life threatening situation (see lion above) so this primordial reaction is something we inherited from our ancestors, and it’s not so bad, in line of principle.

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      But nowadays we rarely have the same type of life threatening situations inducing a “fight or flight” response: the predatory attacks of the new era are completely different things, such as demanding tasks, losing our keys, starting a new company, or in-laws coming for Thanksgiving.

      The problem is that, in terms of chemical reactions, the above situations are considered pretty much the same from our inner body.

      A big difference in today’s world, though, is represented by the frequency and the intensity of the stimuli. Something occurring rarely in the prehistoric era (i.e. predator attack) is now occurring more frequently, almost on every day, with less intensity but still effective in terms of body reaction to the stimulus.

      In the long run, the fight or flight stress response is not even turning off, thus, the cortisol levels are not following the normal path as they should be and they remain relatively high during the evening, impacting consequently on the quality of our sleep and body recovery.

      In addition to that, there are other elements and situations inducing the release of cortisol in our organism, and these are, again, associated with the lifestyle of the modern era. Some examples of conditions releasing cortisol are:

      -Staying up late

      -Poor sleep

      -Caffeine intake

      -Poor diet

      -A non properly planned workout routine

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      -many others…

      So, what to do to keep cortisol levels under control?

      6 things to do to manage cortisol

      Spending time in Theta

      No, it’s not the name of a fancy island or a new planet on another constellation. I am talking about brain waves, and in particular about the ones linked to the brain state of REM sleep (dreams), lucid dreaming and advanced levels of meditation.

      To cut it short: in a state of very deep relaxation our brain produces waves at a slow frequency of 4-7 cycles per second. This stage it’s extremely calming and it’s really body-restoring. Factors like high levels of stress, overconsumption of caffeine during the day and the faced-paced lifestyle could have an impact on our transition to deep sleep.

      Acting on stress reduction, with meditation, as example, will consequently drop down the cortisol levels.

      Drink milk (or, better, its peptides)

      In various studies, the administration of milk peptides resulted in a net reduction in cortisol of -20.69% when compared with the placebo group. It turns out that nutrients found in cow’s milk (the bioactive peptides) exert a sedative effect on the brain. This is also the reason why a warm glass of milk helps to fall asleep, since generations.

      Eat better

      I know, this ‘magic’ solution seems to be everywhere, but it’s true: we are what we eat, and an anti inflammatory diet, eating whole food, would help lowering cortisol levels.

      Extensive research has shown that a high quality fish oil like cod liver oil or krill oil, rich in omega-3s and fat-soluble vitamins, can effectively lower cortisol levels that were increased by mental stress.

      Sleep and Recovery

      Sleep deficit has been linked to elevate cortisol levels (and for prolonged hours) in helicopter pilots on 7-day duty for emergency medical services. Although the test has involved a particular category of workers (and work related stress), the association between lack of sleep and cortisol is still valid: so hit the sack early, or take a nap.

      Switch to tea

      Caffeine elevates cortisol levels, so drink your coffee, but try to switch to tea or decaf after 2pm or anyway at least 6/8 hours before bedtime, your body will thank you.

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      Eat more fruit

      Oranges and grapefruits, in particular. These 2 citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, which has been linked to reduced cortisol levels. A study in 2001 examined the effects of supplemental vitamin C on high cortisol levels brought about by physical stress in marathon runners. Ultramarathon runners were given 500 mg a day of vitamin C, 1500 mg a day of vitamin C, or a placebo seven days before a marathon, the day of the race, and two days after the race. Researchers found that athletes who took 1500 mg per day of vitamin C had significantly lower post-race cortisol levels than those taking either 500 mg a day or placebo.

      Resources:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stressor

      http://samples.sainsburysebooks.co.uk/9780471651581_sample_266798.pdf

      https://labtestsonline.org/understanding/conditions/cushing/

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15517308

      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022030294770260

      http://www.journalofdairyscience.org/article/S0022-0302(00)74983-6/fulltext?mobileUi=0

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15558991

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2249754/

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11590482

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      Last Updated on July 12, 2021

      100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

      100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

      Want to learn some quick and easy life hacks that are easy to do, low cost and saves you time?

      By tweaking little things in your daily life, it can make your life much more convenient!

      Here’re 100 of the most practical life hacks so you can just pick up any of them right away!

      83 tie a small piece of bright colored fabric

        84 write random letter

          85 use a rubberband

            86 dorm smell bad

              87 lean your phone on your sunglassess

                89 how to waterproof your shoes

                  90 take a picture of the name card

                    91 iron inside out

                      92 old newspaper

                        93 tumble try shoes

                          keep a card like this

                            SONY DSC

                              94 soap bar

                                95 make a hole

                                  96 drop the battery

                                    97 use a coozie

                                      98 when taking a picture

                                        use a clean dust pan

                                          try a pants hanger

                                            use your cellphone light

                                              use a spring from an old pen

                                                quick and easy iphone speaker

                                                  user binder clips

                                                    wrap a wet paper towel around your beverage

                                                      put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle

                                                        clean out an old lotion bottle for your beach

                                                          use a muffin tin to serve condiments at a bbq

                                                            doritos are great for kindling

                                                              use nail polish to identify different keys

                                                                use a hanging shoe rack to store cleaning supplies

                                                                  freeze grapes to chill white wine without

                                                                    use paper clips to organize your cables

                                                                      almost finished your jar of nutella

                                                                        sick of having a box full of tangled

                                                                          unroll the rim to increase the capacity

                                                                            cut open toilet paper rolls and use as a cuff

                                                                              remove the stem from strawberries

                                                                                turn an old bottle into a simple little cord holder

                                                                                  for iced coffee and iced cappuccino, use frozen coffee cubes

                                                                                    how to fold a fitted bed sheet

                                                                                      tired of snoozing past your alarm

                                                                                        place a rubber band around an open paint can to wipe your brush on

                                                                                          ut a wooden spoon across a boiling pot

                                                                                            use bread clips to save flip-flops

                                                                                              take pictures of friends holding items

                                                                                                how i always know which headphone is the left one

                                                                                                  put a stocking over the end of a vacuum

                                                                                                    How to make sure you drink enough water

                                                                                                      user a can opener to open blister

                                                                                                        good sandwich guide

                                                                                                          turn your muffin pans upside down

                                                                                                            50 pounds of groceries and living on the 5th floor

                                                                                                              the right way to make a blt

                                                                                                                add one teaspoon of baking soda

                                                                                                                  38

                                                                                                                    hair straighteners equals to collar irons

                                                                                                                      stack your clothes vertically to see them all

                                                                                                                        the right way to make cookies in the summer

                                                                                                                          how to clean a blender

                                                                                                                            the right way to eat a popsicle

                                                                                                                              use bread clips to label and organize power cords

                                                                                                                                to get the built up residue off of your shower head

                                                                                                                                  user a hair clip to orgainize long wires

                                                                                                                                    a frozen saturated sponge in a bag

                                                                                                                                      rub stuck zipper teeth with a graphite pencil

                                                                                                                                        use a soda pop tab

                                                                                                                                          50

                                                                                                                                            51 How to multiply large numbers in your head.

                                                                                                                                              52 How to open a bottle if you dont have a corkscrew.

                                                                                                                                                rub a walnut on damaged wooden furniture

                                                                                                                                                  kids fall out of bed

                                                                                                                                                    use toothpaste to clear up hazy car

                                                                                                                                                      58

                                                                                                                                                        59 keep pizza out while driving home

                                                                                                                                                          60 put your straw through the tab to keep it from rising

                                                                                                                                                            hold oreos with a fork so your fingers

                                                                                                                                                              Never lose your remotes again

                                                                                                                                                                hiding your emergency money

                                                                                                                                                                  use a bread tab to hold your spot on a roll

                                                                                                                                                                    if you are at a hotel and run out of chargers

                                                                                                                                                                      keep a square of cardboard in a ziplock bag

                                                                                                                                                                        If you need to pee or smoke at a bar

                                                                                                                                                                          drill holes in the bottom of your garbage

                                                                                                                                                                            use an accented letter as your passcode

                                                                                                                                                                              use a squeeze ketchup bottle top with your shopvac

                                                                                                                                                                                do something unusual when locking the door

                                                                                                                                                                                  when heating leftovers space out a circle in the middle

                                                                                                                                                                                    dont burn yourself in those hard to reach candles

                                                                                                                                                                                      put a small amount of water in a glass when you microwave your pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                        75 use a piece of paper to organize

                                                                                                                                                                                          use half a pool noodle

                                                                                                                                                                                            pencil case to store cables

                                                                                                                                                                                              78 clothespin to hold nail

                                                                                                                                                                                                79 make blts

                                                                                                                                                                                                  80 take a picture of your fridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                    81 fill plastic water bottles

                                                                                                                                                                                                      82 right ways to eat chips

                                                                                                                                                                                                        99 if your plug keeps failing

                                                                                                                                                                                                          100 put the banana on the wire

                                                                                                                                                                                                            88 before you throw away a post it

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Source: Reddit LifeProTips

                                                                                                                                                                                                              There you go, 100 awesome life hacks that you can try right now to make your life a lot easier!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              30 Brilliant Camping Hacks I Wish I Knew Earlier

                                                                                                                                                                                                              20 Popular Life Hacks From the Internet Debunked (or Verified)

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