Debbie Judd is a nurse for Drs. Michael and Mary Dan Eades —
authors of Protein Power. Debbie
writes for Body Trends, as well as with the Eades answering literally hundreds of emails, phone
calls and letters regarding the Protein Power plan.
It's 5:00 a.m. That annoying, blasting noise awakens you. Your mind immediately starts to surge,
picking up where last nights thoughts drifted off. You mentally file the day's list of activities
that need to be accomplished and already feeling defeated; you realize you're not going to get
everything done — if only I had a few more hours in the day… You should go to the gym and workout — even
for 20 minutes but that will cramp your schedule even more and you're already exhausted and wonder
where you'll recruit enough energy to make it through the day — let alone a workout.
Debbie Judd, RN
While this daily blueprint boggles your psyche and schedule, the cost of stress physiologically
chips away at your immune system, damages memory cells in your brain, deposits fat around your
abdomen, hardens the life line to your heart and deprives you of that youthful, vibrant look. It
robs your spirit and leaves you with a tired, worn-out body.
Stress can either be physical or mental. Extreme levels of exercise, an over-trained athlete, heavy,
physical labor, a hectic lifestyle, a toxic body from heavy metals or substance abuse, constant
traveling, yo-yo dieting, lack of sleep, difficult relationships, changing jobs, a death in the
family, feelings of anger, resentment and insecurity, are a few if the many stressors in life.
Cortisol — what is it?
Cortisol, also known as Cortisone and Hydrocortisone, is a steroid hormone released by the adrenal
glands, along with hormones epinephrine and Norepinephrine in response to stress. These hormones
prepare you to deal with the stress by increasing your blood pressure and heart rate, shorten your
breath, sharpen your memory and concentration, increase muscle strength, reaction and agility,
converts your body into a fat storage mode and releases glucose from the body's reserves to fuel
this process. Also affected are digestion, motivation, mood, appetite, body temperature and pain.
Normal cortisol levels, as a result of healthy cortisol metabolism, vary throughout a 24 hour
period. The highest levels are early in the morning, preparing the body for the day's events and
the lowest levels are around midnight to 2 am, while sleeping. During a stress response, the body
releases higher levels to deal with the impending "stressor" and exerts a feedback signal that
tells the body to shut down the excess production once the stressor is removed. The problem: the
pressures of modern living are seldom removed causing the adrenal glands to excrete chronic high
levels of cortisol which have untoward health effects. Elevated cortisol is associated with anxiety,
difficulty loosing weight or unexplained weight gain especially in the abdominal region, sugar and
carbohydrate cravings, increased insulin levels, extreme fatigue and lethargy, depression and negative
attitude, irregular menstrual cycle, increased susceptibility to infections and for some, anorexia.
The long term effects of continuing stress cause the body to shift to a catabolic state (breaking
down) where recovery from physical stress is compromised.
Lowering your Cortisol levels
No matter what the circumstances in our lives, stress is inevitable but disease and illness don't
have to be. Learning to first recognize what the major stressors are in your life is the first
step to overcoming chronic elevated cortisol levels. For many, if our "plate is too full" we feel
overwhelmed, frustrated and used. But where's the fine line between feelings of satisfaction and
balance in life and taking on too much because you can't say "no" due to some buried need to be
wanted or prove you can do it all? Reaching for the ice cream bucket after an argument with a
family member or boss will only catapult you more towards increased cortisol (yo-yo dieting).
Ignoring emotions of frustration and anger will ultimately lead to an emotional explosion thereby
flooding your system with stress hormones and their immunological consequences for the next 24 hour
period. A toxic body can't efficiently or effectively orchestrate the metabolic processes needed to
survive, let alone thrive.
When you recognize that you are experiencing some or all of the symptoms of elevated cortisol levels,
its then time to step back and evaluate your life. We live in a goal driven society where we don't give
our bodies a chance to go back to baseline. We don't allow ourselves the time needed to recover from the
assaults of the day. Do you have a regular exercise routine? Does your diet consist of healthy choices
and regular eating patterns? Are the relationships in your life supportive to overall health and
well-being? Do you get enough restful sleep each night?
Yoga, Tai Chi, and other "mind-body" forms of movement are recommended for stress reduction and preventative
health insurance. Meditation, breathing exercises and quiet time are all ways to calm the spirit and
soothe the soul. Avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, Ephedra, Coleus, Guarana and Yohimbe which lead
to increased cortisol levels and replacing with a quality multi vitamin-mineral which is needed to
support the body in a stress response is an appropriate course of action. Other cortisol reducing
supplements, chief on the list are: Phosphatidylserine, Theanine, GABA, Ashwagandha, Passionflower
and Chamomile. Detoxifying the body is essential for creating a milieu conducive to healing.
The inner journey of life is the ultimate purpose of being here. To be aware and acquainted with
stress induced situations will help you recognize the balance that is your own and what is needed
to maintain healthy cortisol levels and therefore well-being.
For more information about Yoga and "mind-body" products visit:
bodytrends.com/products/yoga/ or call 800 549-1667
For information about detoxification visit: www.hightechhealth.com.
Copyright © July 2004 Debbie Judd, RN and Low Carb Luxury