Cortisol is a hormone produced by the adrenal glands in response to stress. When everything is operating the way it should, cortisol’s actions do not have any detrimental effects on the body. But when things aren't well, as in the case when you have chronic stress, you produce excess amount is cortisol. When you are producing an abnormally high level of cortisol, this normally helpful hormone puts up some major roadblocks to your health and fitness.
Since cortisol’s main function is to increase blood glucose, too much cortisol actually inhibits your body’s ability to stabilize blood sugar by blocking the insulin receptor sites in your muscles and liver. An inability to regulate your blood sugar leads to fluctuations in energy levels, major sugar cravings, and it prevents your body from using fat as fuel. The less fat we burn, the less efficient we are at creating energy and the more reliant on glucose to fuel us.
High cortisol can disrupt the function of your thyroid as well. It can lower the amount of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland which tells your thyroid to produce T4. It also blocks the conversion of T4 to T3, the form of thyroid hormone that actually affects your metabolism, thereby by continuing to frustrate you with lack of progress toward your goals.
How Do You Know If Your Cortisol Is Elevated
The best way is to take a diurnal saliva test. This is a non-invasive test that uses saliva to measure your cortisol over a 24 hour period. This allows us to identify your individual cortisol profile, and provides clear direction for how to manage it.
We have also created a survey called the Hormone Health Questionnaire that looks at symptoms related to hormone dysfunction. Based on your answers, we will create a report that identifies your overall Hormone Health Risk, as well provide some specific actions you can take to make a difference right away. You can find the Hormone Heath Questionnaire here.