Today on Ask the Nathropath

Hormones Part II. Cortisol and Fat Loss!

Take it away Mark!


First, let we start by saying that the information I’m sharing with you today is meant to be educational and by no means constitutes a consultation. Hormones should always be monitored by your health care professional.

Let’s get started!

Cortisol, the stress hormone and fire alarm of the body!

It is a glucocorticoid hormone which is produced in the adrenal gland by a specific region known as the Zona Fasciculata. I know whatever that means right? But for us as practitioners understanding what it does this is important as there are many minerals, vitamins and other hormones that will be affected by the increase of this hormone.

So what does increase Cortisol mean for you?

1)     Forces the body to store fat; predominantly in the waist

2)     Increased appetite and cravings

3)     Increase blood sugar

4)      Not allow sugar to be metabolized well

5)      Decrease immune activity

6)      Decrease bone formation

7)      Depressed moods

8)      Low Libido

9)      Low energy & loss of motivation

10)    Decreased muscle tone

But WAIT!!!

Not all is bad about Cortisol!

This hormone is responsible for sending alerts to let you know you are being hurt or are in danger.

It keeps you primed and ready to react quickly in dangerous situations, it dilates the eyes, and ears so you can better track things.

It helps you burn fat and increase sugar production when you are exercising or having sex, and it does cause some endorphin release when you are experiencing a pleasurable experience.

It also helps to reduce pain when you are hurt, aids in memory function, and increases immunity in short bursts.

All these actions of Cortisol are closely monitored by your brain in a region called the hypothalamus. Imagine if we had to think about how to control all these actions? It’s amazing what that power house of your brain can do!

The KEY to Cortisol is not to make it a chronically highly produced substance in the body

Well, how do you do that?

Great question! I’m explain further in this article, but for now let’s first get a better understanding of when is it released.

Every time you perceive danger, such as running from a tiger, sprinting away from a guy in an alley way with a weapon, avoiding an accident, getting into an argument.

The more likely culprits are your personal stresses: like your kids, your spouse, your boss, your finances, your home, your food, your cell phone constantly beeping every time someone sends you a message, and when your body is mad at you due to nutritional deficiencies.

These are the times when Cortisol will be released in high amounts and stay in higher concentrations in the blood…this is the danger zone!!!

So how do you identify if you are in THE DANGER ZONE?

  • Cravings for coffee
  • Fatigue/ tiredness in mid-day
  • Inability to start to lose weight
  • Losing hair on your head
  • Premature aging
  • Cravings for certain foods at certain times (sugar when stressed is a common one)
  • Trouble getting motivation to start activity
  • Depression
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Sore joints
  • Low libido
  • Inflammation/ chronic bloating/water retention

These are all signs that you may be in need of some hormone rebalancing.

What can YOU do to combat this issue?

1)      DESTRESS!!!

Create a Stress Free Zone!

Take time to let off some steam, set realistic deadlines, work with people and ask for help, eat at the correct times a day and make sure you get foods from all 4 food groups (proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and water), meditate, practice yoga, stretch, go for a long walk, take a bath, read a book, exercise in ways that you enjoy, forgive someone who has made you upset, take time to mend broken bridges.

STOP being an emotional train wreck!!!

Emotions are meant to be felt and expressed, so stop holding them in.

These are all key ways to eliminate the chronic stress from your life.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that 90% of disease is directly related to stress.

YES 90%!!!

Take a second and really think about how that affects your life.

Commitment to making the lifestyle changes needed to lower the stresses in your life; for your health & happiness, AND for the health and happiness of everyone else in your life.

2)      Supplements!!!

Now this is where I can offer some help.

There are many classes of supplements designed to help with chronic stress placed upon us by our fast paced North American lifestyle. But PLEASE, before you run out and stock up on my recommendations, make sure to consult with your health care professional.

First on my list is…

1)      Adaptogens.

These are herbs (plant derivatives) designed to help your body adapt to stressful situations. Their actions help the body modulate the amounts of Cortisol released at a given time due to a stressor, they will not take away the stress response, just help you modulate and adapt to it.

Some popular adaptogens are valerian root, ashwaganda, Siberian ginseng, panax ginseng, rhodiola, and fenugreek.

2)      B vitamins

In particular B3, B6, B9, and B5, these all have actions to help regulate stress and give the cells a chance to relax.

3)      Vitamin D3

This amazing powerhouse will help your immune system respond to stress and allow recovery of some chronic issues related to brain chemical imbalances.

4)      Zinc, Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium and Phosphorus

These minerals help give the organs back some minerals they may have been lost over the chronic stress periods, again only recommended by health care professionals.

And my favorite….

5)       Omega 3’s

These amazing compounds are anti-inflammatory, lubricating, cell membrane modulating and just overall great for humans. The doses can vary and sources vary so speak to a professional before running out and buying the cheapest, and largest container you can find.

As you can see the topic of hormones and fat loss is very complicate. Each hormone has a certain balancing act with body parts as well as with other hormones.

If you are concerned with stress and the impact that is having on your health and fat loss goals I encourage you to speak to someone, take the steps necessary to allow yourself the ability to heal internally before you worry about the external signs and symptoms. This is the only true way to heal yourself.

Take along hard look in the mirror put your stressors in a row and decide how you will respond to them differently. And remember no matter what the situation someone has been through it before, so ask for help.

Until next week, Stop stress and Start Living!

Mark Kibyuk