One of the most frightening things in the fitness gyms is catabolism. And when we mention cortisol, the hormone which activates the degrading processes in our body, real drama occurs. But what is actually cortisol and is it really that dangerous?
Every substance produced by our organism has its role in our life support and survival. In terms of function, the hormones are signal molecules and regardless of their structure and composition, they activate certain processes in the cells.
Cortisol and adrenaline have direct tasks, related to the actual survival of the organism. They are responsible for its mobilization in case of imminent threat.
- Adrenaline (and noradrenaline) release immediately after your body detects the threat. Increases the heart rate and the blood pressure, in order to secure the feeding and breathing of the brain, muscles and heart. Accelerates the metabolism, makes the transition of glycogen into glucose in the liver easier, and prepares the body for peak stress.
- Cortisol maintains blood pressure high, increases blood flow (nutrients and oxygen). Helps for the release of big quantity of glucose in the blood and blocks the receptor reaction to insulin. Frees the fats from the fat depots and increases the level of triglycerides in the blood. All this happens in order to ensure fuel for a lot of energy in the situations which our brain recognizes as flight or fight and to increase its endurance.
Benefits from stress hormones
Cortisol has its role not only in stress situations, when its levels are extremely high; its work in normal conditions is also very important.
When blood sugar is low, cortisol degrades protein to amino acids and helps the liver to transform them into the nonsufficient glucose, decreases the cell susceptibility to insulin. Secures the energy needs by releasing the fatty acids from the fat depots. Participates in the maintenance of homeostasis. These functions are extremely important in case of long periods of food shortage. Cortisol maintains blood pressure within normal limits and optimizes the work of the cardiovascular system. Enhances the immune system, decreases pain perception, reduces inflammation and strengthens the natural defense against diseases. Stimulates concentration and memory.
What are the harms caused by increased cortisol?
The qualitative, efficient workout is recognized by our body as stress. But as every other real situation, the released adrenaline and cortisol help our body to quickly deal with it. In this sense вЂ“ catabolic stress hormones are only part of the chain: overloading вЂ“ stress of the body and muscles and recovery.
Things are getting quite dangerous when constant stress keeps the levels of cortisol high for a long period of time. If you are an athlete, this happens if you are frequently over exhausted and over trained. There are a lot stressing factors in our everyday lives вЂ“ lack of sleep, malnutrition, overeating, stimulants, day-to-day problems and concerns, work, etc. In these cases, the effects of stress hormones, which are invaluable in real risk situations, become absolutely dangerous:
- Insulin resistance and vulnerability to prediabetes condition grow quickly.
- The levels of testosterone are decreased which interferes not only with the growth of big and strong muscles but also the overall health of the man and the woman. Libido is decreased and the reproductive capacity of both male and female individuals is affected.
- Immunity is suppressed and weakened вЂ“ the excessive quantities transform cortisol from alliance against inflammations into surpassing factor.
- The nervous cells are damaged and memory is suffering.
- Renovation of bone substance is impaired and bone viscosity is reduced.
- In case of prolonged production of cortisol, the suprarenal glands responsible for this production are damaged.
Cortisol itself is not dangerous. What is dangerous is its prolonged increased or decreased production.