Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, and Cortisol

Yay!! I’ve lost 25.6 pounds total so far with 54.4 pounds to go to reach my goal!  My BMI has dropped from 36.9 to 33.1 and my goal BMI is 24.9.

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Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, and Cortisol

Metabolic Hormones #7, #8, and #9:  Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, and Cortisol

Our fight-or-flight hormones can get us out of some pretty tight squeezes.

They help us make deadlines, save toddlers from tripping down stairs, and run to catch buses.

But while the effects of heart-pumping epinephrine and norepinephrine are fleeting, fat-storing cortisol’s legacy is longer lasting – and deadly.

Where Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, and Cortisol Are Produced:  The adrenal glands.

Cortisol, also called hydrocortisone, is produced in the adrenal cortex, the outer part of each adrenal gland.

The inner part of the adrenal gland, the adrenal medulla, produces the other primary stress hormones, norepinephrine (which restricts blood vessels, increasing blood pressure) and epinephrine (which increases heart rate and blood flow to muscles).

Each of these stress hormones is released in different ratios based on the challenge you face.

If you’re looking at a challenge you think you can handle, your adrenals release more norepinephrine.

If you face a challenge that seems more difficult, something you’re not sure you can master, you release more epinephrine, the “anxiety hormone.”

But when you’re overwhelmed, totally discouraged, and convinced you’re screwed, you release more cortisol.

How Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, and Cortisol Impact Metabolism:  When you first become stressed, norepinephrine tells your body to stop producing insulin so you can have plenty of fast-acting blood glucose ready.

Similarly, epinephrine will relax the muscles of your stomach and intestines and decrease blood flow to these organs.

These two actions cause some of the high blood sugar and stomach problems associated with stress.

Once the stressor has passed, cortisol tells your body to stop producing these hormones and to resume digestion.

But cortisol continues to have a huge impact on your blood sugar, particularly on how your body uses fuel.

A catabolic hormone, cortisol tells your body what fat, protein, or carbohydrates to burn and when to burn them, depending on what kind of challenge you face.

Cortisol can either take your fat, in the form of triglycerides, and move it to your muscle, or break down muscle and convert it into glycogen for more energy.

Excess cortisol also deconstructs bone and skin, leading to osteoporosis, easy bruising, and – ugh – stretch marks.

While the epinephrine (aka adrenaline) rush of acute stress suppresses appetite, any cortisol hanging around after the fact will stimulate it.

If you haven’t released the excess cortisol in your blood by punching back or running away, cortisol will increase your cravings for high-fat, high-carb foods.

Cortisol also lowers leptin levels and increases level of neuropeptide Y (NPY), shifts proven to stimulate appetite.

Once you eat, your body releases a cascade of rewarding brain chemicals that can set up an addictive relationship with food.

You feel stressed, you eat.

Your body releases natural opioids, you feel better.

If you don’t consciously avoid this pattern, you can become physically and psychologically dependent on that release to manage stress.

It’s no coincidence that stress eaters who self-medicate with food tend to have hair-trigger epinephrine reactions and chronically high levels of cortisol.

When stress continues for a long time, and cortisol levels remain high, the body actually resists weight loss.

Your body thinks times are hard and you might starve, so it greedily hoards any food you eat and any fat already present on your body.

Cortisol also turns adipocytes, young fat cells, into mature fat cells that stick with us forever.

Cortisol tends to take fat from healthier areas, like your butt and hips, and move it to your abdomen, where cortisol has more receptors.

In the process, it turns once-healthy peripheral fat into unhealthy visceral fat that increases inflammation and insulin resistance in your body.

This belly fat then leads to more cortisol because it has higher concentrations of a specific enzyme that converts inactive cortisone to active cortisol.

The more belly fat you have, the more active cortisol will be converted by these enzymes – yet another vicious cycle created by visceral fat.

How Norepinephrine, Epinephrine, and Cortisol Get Out of Whack:  Depending on genes and early childhood experiences, some lucky people may have very mellow adrenal reactions to stressful situations.

Many other people, however, tend to over-respond, even to minor threats, because the stress feedback loop became stronger and stronger with each negative experience in their past.

By the time these people are adults, their bodies have very touchy stress-response systems.

Chronic over-stimulation of our adrenals is epidemic.

We are both victims of and addicted to our stress.

And our bodies pay the price.

Long-term activation of the stress system has a lethal effect on your body.

When you abuse your adrenals as much as we do, you set yourself up for heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and other potentially fatal conditions.

But before you even get there, you could completely fry your adrenals.

“Adrenal fatigue” is a trendy term tossed around quite a bit right now.

Mainstream medicine has not officially recognized the syndrome, but some endocrinologists have built their practices on helping patients reverse this.

If you suspect either abnormally high or abnormally low cortisol levels, this plan is the perfect way to give your body the best nutrition and lifestyle strategies to support yourself in times of stress.

When you limit your caffeine to 200 milligrams a day, avoid simple carbs, processed foods, and refined grains, and get plenty of high-quality protein, in addition to following the destressing strategies we’ll talk about later, you’ll automatically help your body keep your stress hormones, especially cortisol, lower.

Please don’t take any over-the-counter “adrenal support” supplements – you could actually push your body into full-blown adrenal insufficiency, a very serious, potentially fatal condition.

We’ll talk about growth hormone in the next post.

Come join me on my weight loss journey!  I’d love to have you along!

Have an awesome day!

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If you’d like to read Jillian’s book, you can get it here: Master Your Metabolism: The 3 Diet Secrets to Naturally Balancing Your Hormones for a Hot and Healthy Body!

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Dick and Lenay

email: Lenay@dickandlenay.com – 715-431-0657

P.S. If your diet isn’t working for you, join me on my weight loss journey here – http://bit.ly/13lxgzD


 

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