Cortisol is a steroid hormone that is released in the body in response to physical or psychological stress.
It is part of a set of corticosteroid hormones secreted during stress by the adrenal cortex. The secretion of cortisol triggers various energy-generating processes that aim to provide the brain with sufficient energy supply to prepare the person to deal with stressors.
The secretion of cortisol is predominant and, unlike that of adrenaline which is immediate, it is later and only occurs after a few hours. the role of cortisol is essential; its action is generalized to the whole organism.
This hormone plays a determining role in almost all physiological systems, intervening in particular in the regulation of blood pressure, cardiovascular function, carbohydrate metabolism and immune function.
Cortisol has a hyperglycemic action, that is to say that it increases the level of sugar in the blood by promoting its synthesis in the liver from amino acids released by the catabolism of proteins that it causes. Cortisol thus helps to reconstitute the hepatic reserves of sugar which were initially used in the first reaction to stress under the effect of adrenaline.
In addition, cortisol weakens the body’s immune defenses by destroying the lymphoid tissues essential in the fight against pathogens.
The prolonged secretion of cortisol and corticosteroids in general, in chronic stress, causes a progressive exhaustion of the adrenal cortex glands. This excessive secretion is responsible for various metabolic and organic disorders including arterial hypertension, osteoporosis, reduced immune defenses, sensitivity to allergic diseases, type II diabetes, skin disorders, depression, obesity and particularly abdominal overweight which is linked to syndrome X.
Chronically elevated cortisol levels can lead to a host of health problems, from insulin resistance and destruction of nerve cells to depression of the immune system. If your cortisol levels are too high, you can put on weight, lose your mental sharpness, and become vulnerable to a variety of illnesses.
Constant stress leads to a constant release of cortisol. As your body adjusts to chronic stress you become hyperinsulinemic, which causes a new round of cortisol to be released, which makes you fat more (especially in the abdominal area), and causes inflammation. chronic.
Too much cortisol causes further discomfort in the body, impaired muscle maintenance and regeneration, decreased libido and brain health problems.
When the body is forced to produce adrenaline and cortisol day after day, the body must constantly renew its energy reserves. It therefore stores it in the form of adipose tissue around the waist. This is a practical solution, as the cortisol secreted by the adrenal glands, located above the kidneys, is easily accessible. If necessary, it will draw on these fats to transform them into sugar.
Many excess weight and abdominal overweight are the consequence of the stress, poorly controlled, of daily life.
The role of the HSD
One of the factors that complicates the role of cortisol in its relationship with fat is a small enzyme found deep in fat cells, HSD (11 beta hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-1). The function of HSD is to convert the inactive cortisol back to active cortisol, which will again function as a potent agent promoting fat storage, particularly in the abdominal region. Research has shown that HSD activity is more concentrated in abdominal fat cells than in other fat cells in the body.
In fact, HSD is present in all cells of the body, but a much larger proportion is found in fatty tissue, liver tissue and brain tissue.
HSD is able to raise blood cortisol levels even when it is at a perfectly normal level.
It has been several years since we know that obesity can be associated with high blood levels of cortisol. But it has been found that people under intense stress and suffering from obesity or a high accumulation of abdominal fat, may have normal blood levels of cortisol. This led researchers to discover that certain enzymes, particularly HSD, are very active in increasing the body’s cortisol levels directly in the cell. You can therefore have a normal blood level of cortisol and yet suffer from a high level of cortisol directly in the cell, this is especially true in people who are overweight or overweight.
It is therefore a true vicious circle, difficult to break. Pharmaceutical companies have understood all the benefits they will be able to derive from the production of drugs which act directly on the action of HSD. They are therefore engaged in intense research to produce this new class of drugs that can be used for health problems as widespread as diabetes, obesity or brain disorders.
How to control cortisol in the body
Reducing the level of cortisol in the blood, a consequence of chronic stress, and reducing the activity of HSD, and the reactivation of cortisol in adipose tissue, would make it possible to prevent and treat these conditions and would also make it possible to achieve more easily a healthy weight and reduce abdominal overweight.
The level of cortisol in the blood can be controlled by effective management of daily stress. There are several ways to control the effects of stress and therefore reduce our blood cortisol levels.
The techniques of relaxation, meditation, controlled breathing, are effective and proven means. We have already developed several columns on these techniques.
The consumption of certain supplements called “adaptogens” can reduce the physiological incidence of stress. Panax ginseng, ashwaganda, suma and schissandra are some herbs that are known for their action against the effects of stress.
How to reduce the action of HSD naturally
As we have shown, controlling cortisol levels in the blood is not sufficient to limit the effect of cortisol on fat accumulation in the body. It is essential to take into account the action of the enzyme HSD in the cells of adipose tissue. This action is independent of the person’s state of stress. In addition to the methods mentioned for controlling the effects of stress, it is therefore necessary to have a strategy for controlling the action of HSD.
A large consumption of fruits and vegetables rich in certain flavonoids may be an effective strategy to reduce the action of HSD and reduce the overall activity of cortisol in the body.
Flavonoids are polyphenolic compounds possessing an inhibitory action on the activity of HSD. Quercetin found in apple and onion, naringenin in grapefruit, genistein and daidzein in soybeans. These are all bioflavonoids that work by neutralizing and controlling the action of the HSD enzyme.
Naringin, a flavonoid found especially in grapefruit, tangeretin found in citrus fruits (bitter orange, tangerine, etc.), and sinensetin found in orthosiphon or Java tea.
These different flavonoids have an action on the activity of HSD in the fat cell.
The consumption of grapefruit should however be avoided when consuming certain classes of drugs.
Among plants, Liquorice and more precisely one of its compounds, glycyrrhetinic acid, exerts a notable action of reducing the activity of HSD. But the use of this plant cannot be envisaged over a long period. Indeed if it reduces the activity of HSD, the glycyrrhetinic acid of licorice increases the lifespan of certain hormones, such as aldosterone, a hormone which promotes water retention. Its prolonged use therefore causes hypertension in some people.
Easily applicable and highly effective natural strategies for controlling the body’s total cortisol
However, some very simple lifestyle rules are very effective in reducing the level of cortisol in the body.
There is also a supplement, a concentrate of the 3 most active flavonoids to reduce the activity of HSD, and which has an action 3 times more powerful than the simple consumption of fruits. This is because flavonoids are mainly present in the internal part of the peel, a part of the fruit that is rarely eaten.