Cortisol a glucocorticoid (steroid hormone), is continuously produced from cholesterol by adrenalin glands and is one of the stress hormones of the body.
It is secreted even we are not under stress, and it has highly important role in regulation aspects of all parts of the body's metabolism of glucose, protein and fatty acids. The functions of cortisol are also particularly important in controlling mood and well-being, immune cells and inflammation, blood pressure from falling to low, and maintenance of good condition of bones, skin and muscles.
Cortisol is released in a highly irregular manner with peak secretion in the early morning, so we wake up and then tapers out in the late afternoon and evening helping us to relax and sleep well.
Cortisol has been termed the "stress hormone" because excess cortisol is secreted during times of physical or psychological stress, and the normal pattern of cortisol secretion (with levels highest in the early morning and lowest at night) can be altered.
The trouble with stress hormone cortisol starts when we push our adrenal glands to overproduce cortisol for prolonged period of times - when we are under too much stress and we fail to manage it.
Typical symptoms associated with chronic stress and elevated stress hormone cortisol levels may include weight gain, fatigue, fluctuations of blood sugar, increased appetite, carbohydrate cravings, muscle weakness, and reduced immune system function.
With a long term exposure to demands and challenges, our ever-stressed, fast-paced superwomen lifestyle, our bodies are pumping out cortisol almost constantly, which can wreak havoc on our health (studies estimate that 75-90 percent of visits to the family doctors are for the conditions caused or made worse by stress).
The solution in order to reverse or prevent the damage is mindful eating approach.