If you were to rate your stress levels on a 1-10 scale, what’s your stress level right now?
Stress is a foundation of our body systems. It has allowed us to survive as a species for centuries. Stress triggers a cascade of biochemical and hormonal responses that keep us safe in emergencies and when under a threat. The signaling starts in the brain and moves down to the adrenals which in turn release cortisol and other hormones that tell the body to shut down all metabolic operations and direct energy to the muscles to run or fight.
Unfortunately, we live a life under constant stress, especially chronic mental stress which causes cortisol to be elevated at all times. Elevated cortisol signals the liver to release sugar to the bloodstream as well as signaling the body to break down muscle tissues and other organs so they can be converted into additional sugars that could be immediately converted into energy.
The problem is that we have no use of that sugar since we are not under a real emergency, and our muscles are already flooded with sugar. The excess sugar winds up escorted to the fat cells by the insulin hormone. As if that wasn’t enough, higher insulin and cortisol levels trigger the desire to eat more carbs and sugars while running on slower metabolism.
To top it off, high levels of cortisol negatively affects the brain, especially memory and thinking. Cortisol also lowers the immune system and is associated with many chronic diseases.
One of the fastest ways to raise your stress levels even more is lack of sleep. Learn more about it in the next post.