In my quest to start getting healthy I came across the perhaps lesser-known cortisol effect.

When I went to my doctor all those months ago, one of the things he tested my blood for was cortisol. I had no idea what that was. So, I asked my good friend Google who popped up loads of info for me to absorb. As it turns out cortisol is not a new thing. It’s a hormone produced in your adrenals on top of your kidneys, and its integral in the fight or flight mechanism that kept our ancestors from being eaten.


In basic terms what it does is in stressful situations your adrenals produce cortisol and epinephrine, which together make sure that your blood pumps faster and harder around your body. It needs to do this to take the large supply of glucose it has made sure is available to your large muscle groups, like your legs and arms, to use to get you out of the stressful situation. This is great for when you need to run away from a horde of zombies or a werewolf infestation. It’s not so good when you’re stressed at your desk with nowhere to run to.

(I thought of this as similar to playing Magic the Gathering. You shuffle your cards and draw your opening hand. It’s all mana. You draw another card and it’s also mana. Great, got lots of “energy” or power just waiting to be used but there’s nothing for it to do.)

The problem is this little hormone helps to make your cells insulin resistant and helps to create fat cells. In fact, the list of issues this one hormone has a hand in causing if left unchecked made my mouth hang open. No wonder my doctor was so keen on testing my levels.

The constant pumping out of this hormone into your blood stream also tires out your adrenals leading to adrenal fatigue. That is where you feel like sleeping all the time even when you’ve had a good night’s sleep.

Luckily it’s not all doom and gloom. I’ve found various experts who say that with lifestyle changes like stress management and eating a diet that doesn’t lead to inflammation, I can reverse these effects.

The first step is identifying the stressors and finding a way to limit them or neutralize them and that way I can reshuffle my deck and hopefully get a better hand.

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